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Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Tuesday January 18, 2022, 7:45 pm
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
When Storm “Arwen” blew in and prevented Molesey travelling to Jersey on 27th November the fixtures were astutely re-arranged. The reverse meeting due at Molesey on 2nd April is now being played at Springfield and Jersey travelled to Molesey for this midweek match.
Molesey sat bottom of the division with a 2-3-19 21-73 record, well adrift of safety and having played more games than any other team in the division. However, one of those wins was an outstanding one. It was against front runners Beckenham Town, who at the time were otherwise unbeaten in the league. Molesey have signed a number of new players over the last couple of months in an attempt to avoid relegation.
Molesey were relegated from the Isthmian League in 2008 but they won the Combined Counties Premier in 2015 to regain that level, only to be relegated back down again in 2019. In 2019-20 they were lying sixth when the season was curtailed but were thankful 2020-21 was abandoned as they were then in bottom place with a 1-1-13 record and it would appear that has only delayed the inevitable.
Walton Road, West Molesey is situated south of the River Thames, just a mile or so from Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace so Jersey were hoping to give the Molesey the chop too! The Hurst Park racecourse was situated just north of the ground. When the course closed in 1962 Mansfield Town bought one of the grandstands for later use as the West Stand at Field Mill. Before then the racecourse was the scene of a revenge arson attack by a couple of suffragettes following the death of Emily Davison at the Derby of 1913. Molesey’s ground was also one of the locations used in the Bend it like Beckham film made in 2002.
On a chilly night, only a few degrees above freezing, Jersey made five changes to the team that had beaten A.F.C. Croydon Athletic on Saturday. This was largely because work commitments prevented some of the squad travelling. Euan Van der Vliet, suspended on Saturday, resumed between the “sticks”. Jack Griffin came in to central defence which had the domino effect of captain James Queree moving to right defence and from there Jonny Le Quesne going into midfield.
Joe Kilshaw and Adam Trotter, substitutes on Saturday, started in midfield, instead of Kamen Nafkha and Calvin Weir. Fraser Barlow, making his 50th appearance, took on a more central role in place of Lorne Bickley, and Ruben Mendes-Pestana returned for the injured Karl Hinds. New “boy” Frank Tobin continued on the bench, alongside Kieran Lester and possible emergency goalkeeper, assistant manager, Kevan Nelson.
The pitch had suffered from the recent heavy rainfall in the area and it was bobbly in the extreme. A heavy roller will be needed when it is dry enough to utilise one.
Jersey kicked off attacking the Walton Road end and after a poor tackle by the home captain, Dan Choules, on Joe Kilshaw in the opening seconds Sol Solomon floated the resultant free kick in to the area where Kailan North headed it away for a corner.
Solomon moved forward for the corner which he curled towards the near post. Goalkeeper Shay Honey was impeded by his own defender, North, as they both went for it, so that although the ball was eventually scrambled clear the referee had already awarded the goal, much to the chagrin of the defending team.
On such a pitch subtle play was disrupted by the ground conditions, more often than by the opposition, and direct play was called for. North tried to redeem himself for the opening goal and after ten minutes did just that with a piledriver from twenty-five yards which Van der Vliet watched all the way and tipped over.
Luke Campbell spurned a good chance from a Solomon free kick a couple of minutes before Solomon doubled his own and his teams lead with his second goal. A long ball forward from Jay Giles landed about twenty yards out. Solomon chasing it held off defender Ben Smith and lobbed Honey as he advanced. It was placed high and took an age to drop, during which time Honey’s life no doubt flashed before him, but the touch was good and Smith chasing back was unable to keep it out.
A melee in the Jersey goalmouth was eventually cleared but during it Mendes-Pestana had taken a nasty kick in the face from Tate Greenaway. This resulted in lengthy treatment for the bloodied midfielder who was left counting his teeth and a yellow card for the home player.
Another foray forward by Molesey resulted in them reducing the lead with a well- executed move that belied the scrappy play that had characterised most of what had gone before. Luca Tartari, overlapping on the left wing, played in North on the edge of the box. A clever wrong footing lay-off gave William Robinson a half chance from eighteen yards left of centre and his cross shot to the bottom right corner threaded its way past Jack Griffin, Campbell and ultimately Van der Vliet.
Jersey managed to restore their two goal almost immediately and before the interval. Le Quesne crossed from the right and the ball eluded the slipping Smith as he stretched for it on the edge of the box. Barlow initially seemed surprised that the ball had reached him but he collected himself to work the ball out from under his feet and past the advancing Honey into the bottom left corner.
After fifty-two minutes Solomon thought he had scored his second successive hat-trick but it was chalked off by the linesman’s flag on the far side. One of the less contentious decisions he made during the evening commented some knowledgeable spectators.
Barlow shot just wide of the right post and Van der Vliet must have been thirty-five yards out of his goal when he made a vital “sweeper’s” tackle from a long ball forward from the Molesey defence. If he had misjudged that, he could have been found sitting on the sidelines again next week.
Le Quesne collected a caution when he let his frustration at yet another offside decision get the better of him by kicking the ball away. He had many a spectator sympathising with him.
Molesey had another promising break down the right and the loose ball hovered in the danger area before Trotter showed the decisiveness necessary by sprinting in to clear the danger whilst those around him dithered.
Solomon had a further hat trick opportunity but his chip was not lifted high enough to clear Honey. This was the last piece of action for over five minutes as the referee went down with severe cramp in his right leg, no doubt exacerbated by the very heavy ground conditions. Jersey’s physio., Kevan Nelson, worked at length on the referee’s leg and Declan Wyatt was eventually able to resume with fifteen minutes still to play.
Molesey brought on their second substitute, George Craig, and within a minute he had breached the Jersey defence. Molesey’s first substitute, Abel Vendrells, on the right, played the ball into Harry Boxall whose first-time flick found Craig well placed.
Van der Vliet dived to his right to parry his shot but prostrate could nothing about his close in follow up.
Jersey brought on Lester for Mendes-Pestana with five minutes to go and with his first touch Jersey could breathe easier again. Barlow muscled his way past Choules to reach the left byline and his cut back saw Lester react quicker than defender Cory Watson to apply a predatory finish from a couple of yards.
Within a couple more minutes the coup de grace was applied. Another attack saw Honey mistakenly pick up a closely played back pass and Molesey had to defend a free kick only five yards out. Barlow and Solomon hovered over it before the latter played it back to the lurking Giles to smash in to the roof of the net.
Frank Tobin was brought on for Barlow in the last minute but he still had some eight minutes of playing time as the lengthy treatment of the referee, coupled with the usual stoppages for substitutions, and then a further “cramp stoppage” for Robinson meant that anyone hoping for an early getaway on a chilly night was frustrated.
Molesey 2 (William Robinson 45, George Craig 80); Jersey Bulls 5 (Sol Solomon (2) 3 & 20, Fraser Barlow 45+1, Kieran Lester 86, Jay Giles 88)
Attendance – 68
Programme – xx pages, £x (T.B.A.)
Molesey – Shay Honey, Dan Choules (c), Luca Tartari, Kailan North, Ben Smith, Cory Watson, Harry Boxall, Connor Channon, Antonio Officer, Tate Greenaway, William Robinson
Substitutes – Josh Hughes (not used), George Craig (for Tartari 79), Abel Vendrells (for Officer 59), Charlie Dunckley (not used), Kissi Williams (not used)
White Shirts (Black across shoulders), Black Shorts (White down seams), Black Socks; GK All Light Green
Warren Burton (Manager), James Cameron (Coach), Jake Green (Coach), Dick Etherington (Physio.)
Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, James Queree (c), Jay Giles, Jack Griffin, Luke Campbell, Joe Kilshaw, Jonny Le Quesne, Adam Trotter, Fraser Barlow, Ruben Mendes-Pestana, Sol Solomon
Substitutes – Frank Tobin (for Barlow 89), Kieran Lester (for Mendes-Pestana 85), Kevan Nelson (not used), only three substitutes
Red/White/White; GK Yellow
Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Richard Hebert (GK Coach),
Referee – Declan Wyatt (Worcester Park)
Assistants – Aiden Farrelly (Hanworth) and Daniel Crump (Hampton)
Cautions – Tate Greenaway (M) 39, Jonny Le Quesne (JB) 68
Corners – Molesey (1) 2; Jersey Bulls (3) 7
Player of the Match Award (streaming viewers’ votes) – Sol Solomon 42, Fraser Barlow 8, Adam Trotter 7, Jonny Le Quesne 3
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