THE Banstead bogey struck again as the visitors continued their recent resurgence by defeating Jersey Bulls at ‘home’ again.
Last year it was a very late goal for the Surrey team at Wycombe Wanderers’ Adams Park. On their first visit to Springfield they repeated the painful reality check as the Bulls laboured under the absence of six regulars.
Banstead might be lying next to bottom in the table but they have now won four matches in the past month, with a run of form that might see them escape relegation for the second successive season.
Two debatable offside decisions, one at each end – both flagged by assistant referees from Jersey – would have reversed the score but video evidence will not reverse the result even though a review had seen Fraser Barlow’s dismissal at Badshot Lea last week quashed.
The depleted hosts sprung a surprise at the start by the introduction of former Island captain Jack Boyle, after a three-and-a-half-year absence from the football field, in midfield.
Barlow was free to take the holidaying Lorne Bickley’s place up front, but he lacked the physical presence that Bickley would have brought to combat Banstead’s burly central defenders. He was also regularly caught offside in the early part of the match. Bulls’ regular defensive pairing James Quérée and Luke Campbell were also overseas and Francis Lekimamati had not yet recovered from the injury he picked up at Badshot Lea.
Other absences were notable.
Miguel Carvalho’s quick feet might have provided the keys to unlock the Banstead fortress but, unfortunately, he was unavailable as he was playing in the Junior Muratti in Guernsey the following day, as was Sammy Henia-Kamau. As it was, the Bulls had four accomplished central midfielders strung across the pitch and, as a consequence, lacked the penetration to attack down the Banstead flanks.
Just after the hour mark came the first close decision that went against the Bulls. Le Quesne curled in a cross from the right and Luke Watson came in from behind the defence to head home a stooping header at the far post. One can only assume that the junior assistant may have raised his flag against Barlow, who was bypassed by the cross.
Jersey looked most effective in the last quarter of the match after they made a double substitution just after the disallowed goal. Kamen Nafkha and Boyle were replaced by Daryl Mvalo and Robert Martins-Figueira and it says much about the game that the latter gained the player-of-the-match award for his cameo performance.
Jersey continued to search for a clear-cut opportunity but were undone by a speedy counter-attack. A Le Quesne run from the halfway line was brought to a halt on the edge of the Banstead box. The ball was quickly fed out to right side, where Kailan North played in Brandon McCarthy, who, in turn, laid the ball off to Rueben Duncan.
Duncan played a defence-splitting ball to North, who had continued his sprint up the right side. He played it inside to McCarthy, who looked to be forward of him and the last defender but no flag came from the assistant referee and McCarthy crashed the ball into top-right corner from a dozen yards out.
It was the killer blow and doubly disappointing, as news had already come through that rivals, Badshot Lea, had lost their derby at Farnham Town in front of a crowd of over a thousand. Therefore, table-toppers Raynes Park Vale, with their defeat of Fleet Town, and 53 points out of the last 57, extended their lead over both. Bulls and Badshot, it seems, will have to battle it out for the second-place play-off position.