Tadley Calleva 0
Jersey Bulls 0
Jersey Bulls player of the match: Adam Trotter
SUCH has been the rise to prominence – and importance – of young forward Miguel Carvalho, that his name was on the lips of every Bulls supporter in Hampshire on Tuesday as they saw their side play out a turgid 0-0 draw with Tadley Calleva.
The Islanders’ assistant manager, Kevan Nelson, had spoken of how he wouldn’t want to be in the Tadley camp given the response they’d face from a Bulls side hurting from FA Vase defeat last weekend, but it didn’t materialise.
Boss Gary Freeman made two changes to the side which lost out to holders Newport Pagnell Town and, despite a brisk start it was, by his own admission, the worst he had seen his side perform in some time.
Lorne Bickley, who got no reward for his tireless running on Saturday, had two early sighters of goal, though he couldn’t work Craig Atkinson in the home goal sufficiently enough.
It gave the small group of Bulls supporters in attendance a belief, however, that their men would eventually break down Tadley – a notion not paying respect to the home side’s outstanding record at home in league football this season, where they’ve been beaten just once.
Indeed, they had their moments in front of goal. Jack French drew an agile stop from Euan Van der Vliet and they probably had the opportunity of the contest late on when Brody Paert rounded the Bulls keeper, only to see his cross slid off the goal-line by James Quérée.
Tadley centre-back Louie Chambers was also keen to show off his athletic ability, nipping just in front of Sammy Henia-Kamau as he bore down on goal – and that was as good as it got.
The second half never got going. Tadley were content to frustrate the Bulls – they didn’t need much help, which Freeman alluded to in his post-game reflection.
‘I can’t really say much other than that is a poor 45 minutes from us in the second half, and we were all over the place,’ he said.
‘The first half wasn’t too bad and both sides tried to play with tempo to get on top. But I felt both defences were dominant tonight and it was going to take either something special, or a mistake, to open the game up.’
When asked to put his finger on the specific ingredient that was missing from Bulls’ performance, the response came quickly – creativity.
‘We’ve scored lots of goals this season so tonight doesn’t give us any worries but it was clear to everyone that we didn’t have a spark, that creative element, in the final third.
‘Miguel gives you something in that regard. He’s a young man finding his way in senior football and we’ve seen what he can do. He gave us zip and urgency when we got him onto the pitch on Saturday and he might have been the missing link here.
‘But there’s still lots to play for and we can’t pin our hopes on Miguel, Sammy or anyone else. Those two lads are now in the shop window and there may be times when they are away on trial or visiting clubs in the professional game, and we have to find a way.
‘Our next spell of games includes fixtures against teams we need to find a way to beat and, if we don’t, the promotion goal becomes harder. But we’re still very much alive and all that matters now is being bang on for the Croydon Athletic game in a few days.’
Tadley Calleva: Craig Atkinson (c), Dean Stow (Tom Walsh, 46), Louie Chambers, Brad Neal, Jordan Goater, Ousman Darboe, Jack French, Scott Kinge, Kalum Cousins (Sheldon Wright, 70), Ben Wright, Brody Peart (Alex Miller, 84)
Jersey Bulls: Euan Van der Vliet, James Querée (c), Jay Giles, Sammy Sutcliffe (Frank Tobin, 90), Luke Campbell, Joe Kilshaw (Jonny Le Quesne, Kilshaw 68), Fraser Barlow (Francis Lekimamati, 62), Adam Trotter, Lorne Bickley, Luke Watson, Sammy Henia-Kamau (Harry Scott, 84)
Referee: Simon Weston