Jersey Bulls pass screen test

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Bulls were tight at the back, inventive in midfield and down the flanks … and they simply had too much firepower to be denied the victory.

So the 100% debut season stats nudge upwards yet again; now 19 in a row overall and 17 in the league. But this is a tale that the Jersey public are not tiring of, underlined by an 818 attendance on a bitterly cold day at Springfield.

Perhaps what set this game up as different was not just the potential of Farnham but their travelling companions, Sky Sports TV, who were over to run their gaze over one of the season’s big success stories … Jersey Bulls.

In the shop window like never before, would it inspire Farnham and cower the Bulls? Or perhaps result in over-indulgence by Jersey’s star individuals?

In short, no.

Bulls put on a show to be proud of, they have an excellent team, on and off the pitch.

Yes, Farnham showed resilience and had some quality players with a clear, if restricted, game plan, but once Bulls got their second goal just after the break there looked an inevitability about the result. The visitors certainly never gave Bulls’ goalkeeper Euan Van Der Vliet much scope to impress, but the players in front of him took every opportunity to shine, all while maintaining an excellent team shape.

The pace, accuracy and invention of Bulls’ passing game rarely fails to create space at this level, and the game could have been in the proverbial bag long before it was had chances been taken earlier on. Harry Cardwell, Karl Hinds, Daryl Wilson and Sol Solomon were all denied by the diminutive but athletic visiting goalkeeper Dease Kerrison – his finger-tip save from Solomon’s high close-range shot at the near post (after some superb close control by the youngster) was top drawer.

Solomon looked to have gained the upper-hand in that individual duel in the 24th minute, when the winger’s delightful volley from 20 metres on the left went over Kerrison and dipped into the net. A superb strike, but the crowd were stunned when an assistant’s flag ruled out the goal, apparently for offside in the build-up. It was a strike that would have graced Sky Sports’ airtime and Solomon certainly questioned the decision, but referee Sam Gregory merely pointed to his assistant on the touchline in reply.

But with a constant supply of quality work from Adam Trotter in midfield and Jay Giles on the left flank, Bulls were not to be denied for much longer, with Daryl Wilson smashing home from the edge of the box after another incisive attack down the right.

Solomon came close to doubling the advantage after getting on the end of another intricate passing move to loft the ball over Kerrison, but also wide of the far post too. The miss could have proved costly as Farnham were gifted their best chance of the match within a minute, but when Joe Sowden sent Mark Corbett clear after a rare mistake from Luke Campbell, the striker’s effort lacked any conviction with Van Der Vliet saving with ease.

While Alan Williams, one of Bulls’ many hard-working behind the scenes team, put JCG Prep’s girl footballers through their paces at half-time, team boss Gary Freeman was helping prepare this men for the second half.

Nothing dramatic about the talk, he was to say later, but whatever was said Bulls re-took the field with renewed vigour, looking full of threat down the right in particular. Within a minute they had forced an excellent save from Kerrison … and doubled their lead with Cardwell’s low cross shot from the right.

The result was put beyond doubt just before the hour when excellent work across the park from Hinds was rewarded with a cross from the left that found Solomon; his excellent control and turn would surely have brought a goal had he not been hauled down before pulling the trigger.

Hinds, joint top scorcer in the league with 11, despatched number 12 low to the left hand of Kerrison from the resulting penalty.

Hinds then showed how valuable and frustrating his performances can be; linking play superbly, but then getting a yellow card after stretching the referee’s patience with a string of fouls. He finished with a fittingly positive contribution though, taking substitute Fraser Barlow’s short pass near the penalty area’s semi-circle to drive a low left-footer into the goalkeeper’s left-hand corner.

Like so much that had gone before, it won’t look out of place on Sky Sports …

Bulls boss Gary Freeman was, as you would expect, delighted with the display and how his men had handled the unique pressures of the day, playing down his influence on the result. But it’s clear that Bulls excellence on the pitch has a lot to do with excellence off it.

Long may they enjoy the rewards of their unseen labours.

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