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Panjab penalty denies Island side victory

Football | Published:

JERSEY were forced to accept a 1-1 draw with ConIFA World Cup hopefuls Panjab FA on Saturday, following another positive outing from the Island’s representative squad.

Harry Curtis (5) scores the opening goal for Jersey with a header from Jack Boyle's corner. Panjab equalised two minutes from time Picture: GARY HOUSE

Panjab, who are preparing for an international campaign against 15 other independent footballing ‘nations’ from across the globe, required a late Gurjit Singh penalty to finish level after Harry Curtis sent Martin Cassidy’s men in front at the home of Slough Town FC.

The result leaves the two associations tied on a win apiece and a draw from their three friendly games since April 2016.

‘Considering Panjab are favourites to win the ConIFA World Cup, and the way we played, I’m really pleased,’ said manager Cassidy. ‘That’s five games undefeated for us now, so I can’t complain.

‘It was a very competitive game, but I think we were by far the better side and we should have been two or three up at half-time.

‘I think we’ve now got a brand of football that people recognise with Jersey football. The biggest thing for me is the way we’re playing – we’re playing football from the back and everyone is confident in possession. If we can start scoring half the chances we create we’ll be a real force to be reckoned with over the next four or five years.’

Following a first half which could have run away from Panjab had the visitors been more clinical, Jersey continued to press for the opener and came within inches twice in quick succession. Jack Boyle blasted an effort against the crossbar and Jonny Le Quesne found the right-hand post on the rebound with his first-time half-volley from 12 yards.

Pressure from the Caesareans would soon pay off, though, with a rare goal from defender Curtis sending the Reds in front on 72 minutes. The teenager rose highest to meet Boyle’s corner from the left and nodded home inside a busy six-yard box.

Substitute goalkeeper Danny Birrell was kept busy at the other end as the final whistle neared, denying Panjab an equaliser with a couple of decent stops. But he was sent the wrong way when facing Singh’s 88th-minute penalty after Jordan Preston – caught on the wrong side – accidentally tripped his marker coming in from the wing.

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Cassidy, who has turned Jersey’s fortunes around following an unimpressive 2017, added: ‘Panjab came into it in the last 20 minutes and put us under pressure, and we had a water break, which seemed to kill the momentum a bit. In the last ten minutes we were tired and were unlucky to concede a penalty. Their man did well cutting inside, and unfortunately Jordan [Preston] couldn’t get out of the way.

‘All the good results and performances we’re getting now are a result of the hard work we put in last year. Unfortunately we didn’t get the results then, but now we’re seeing a team who understand their roles and what we’re looking for.

‘We’ll all have a good rest now, and then we’ll sit down with the new [JFA] CEO and look at what we can build. Our planning will all be around the Welsh tournament [Ynys Mon Island Games replacement event, June 2019].’

Panjab begin their World Cup campaign in London later this month, having been placed in Group D alongside Western Armenia, Kajylia (northern Algeria) and United Koreans in Japan. The UK-based outfit were runners-up last time the event was held in 2016 – finishing behind northern Georgian hosts Abkhazia following a final watched by thousands.

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The Jersey FA are expected to name a new chief executive in the coming weeks, following the news that current incumbent Neville Davidson is set to retire.

Panjab FA: Raajan Gill (Newcastle Town), Jaskaran Basi (Coleshill United), Sufyan Zia (Bilston Town), Glenvir Hayer (Clevedon Town), Rajpal Virk (unattached), Terlochan Singh (Glebe), Arjun Jung (Kings Langley), Amarvir Sandhu (Leicester Road), Kamaljit Singh (Spvgg Vreden, Germany), Nathan Minhas (Maidenhead United), Umar Riaz (Burnham): Substitutes: Jhai Dhillon (Chesham United), Nikinder Uppal (Barnt Green Spartak), Gurjit Singh (Rushall Olympic), Camen Bhandal (Punjab United Gravesend), Aaron Minhas (Beaconsfield Town).

Jersey: Euan van der Vliet (Danny Birrell 59), Johnny Le Quesne, Jay Giles, Rob McBey (Don McBey 76), Harry Curtis, Harry Cardwell (Jordan Preston 52), Jack Boyle, Adam Trotter, Karl Hinds, Jake Prince (Fraser Barlow 66), Kieran Lester (George Glithero 52).

Jason Fox

By Jason Fox
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