MANAGER Gary Freeman rued a “missed opportunity” after Jersey Bulls crashed out of the FA Vase with a 3-0 home defeat to Falmouth Town.
Wembley dreams were rudely awoken as Bulls came up short against their Cornish visitors, whose large F Troop following brought plenty of noise and colour to Springfield. A dubious penalty decision given against them in the first half didn’t help much either, with referee Constantine Hatzidikis failing to endear himself to home support.
But, ultimately, Bulls failed to create the chances they needed to cause Falmouth any problems, with the away side’s captain James Ward the winner in his personal duel with striker Lorne Bickley, who cut a lonesome figure in the Bulls’ front line.
“We never really threatened their ’keeper too much and we didn’t really create enough to really deserve anything,” admitted Freeman. “They were very good at managing the game. I thought it was there for us to go and play football, but as the second half went on it just got scrappier and scrappier. They made it difficult for us to get on the ball and play.
“Their captain was outstanding and we’ve kept hitting that ball up too long, which is always going to be a battle against him.
“We’ve got to look at when we get to these later stages, how pragmatic we want to be. Today they’ve done that. It’s a tough lessen but it’s happened a couple of times now.”
Jared Sims opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 18 minutes, sending Pierce Roche the wrong way. But the decision to award the spot kick was controversial. With Falmouth winger Ollie Walker bearing down on goal, Roche did well to get down and thwart the attack, clearly winning the ball. But Hatzidikis saw something different to the other 1,400 people at the stadium
Bulls’ assistant manager Kevan Nelson was sent off for his complaints and after Sims tucked the ball into the net, Springfield was shell-shocked.
“It was never a penalty. We could all see Pierce push the ball away,” added Freeman.
“For a big game like this, you’re hoping it’s going to be decided on the pitch. We have no complaints about the result because the way the second half went they deserved it but that first half was a real tight affair and looking a really good game of football. Unfortunately, that decision has given them that edge. They had willing runners and were running the channels very well. They just work in balls into areas. But we haven’t reacted well enough in our second half, so congratulations to Falmouth.”
Bulls never quite got into their stride in the match and although they push Falmouth back in the second half, poor defending allowed Walker to double Falmouth’s lead just over ten minutes into the second half via a deflection off Jonny Le Quesne. Bulls huffed and puffed but could not find a way through the Falmouth rearguard and with five minutes of the 90 to go, substitute Cameron Hutchison finished things off with a third.
“It’s never great to get beat at Springfield, never mind 3-0,” said Luke Campbell who captained Bulls in the absence of the suspended James Querée.
“The penalty was a bit harsh but we can’t use that as an excuse. We started coming back into the game and in the last ten minutes of the first half we were in the ascendancy, so half-time came at a bad time, but then the second goal killed us. We’re very disappointed.
“[Falmouth] were a very organised team. Well drilled and knew what they were doing and they probably deserved their win today.”