It was FA Vase third round day on Saturday last, 2nd December and your Roving Team watched Harefield United’s home tie, against Jersey Bulls, at the pleasantly situated Preston Park.
Great credit is due to the Hares for doing everything possible to get the match played, on a day when the FA Vase programme was decimated by the weather. They worked tirelessly on the pitch in the days beforehand and covered its vulnerable areas, to protect it from the expected frost.
The kick off time was brought forward to 12.45 pm to facilitate the Jersey Bulls’ travel arrangements and they were provided with packed meals for their return journey to Gatwick after the match.
A delay to the visitors’ inward morning flight caused concern, especially as fog was hovering around the ground. Luckily, kick off was only delayed by 6 minutes. The fog did start to descend at times during the match but didn’t intensify sufficiently to disrupt the proceedings.
Both clubs had entered this season’s competition at round 2, where they both recorded 2-1 victories, Harefield United at home to Crawley Down Gatwick and Jersey Bulls at Holyport. The clubs’ positions in their respective Combined Counties League Premier Divisions differed somewhat. Jersey Bulls were third in the South Division, while the Hares were bottom of the North Division table. However, their form has improved considerably in recent weeks, following the appointment of a new management team and they have won 2 of their previous 3 games.
This difference in league positions was certainly not evident during the game and Harefield United were very unlucky to lose by a single goal, which was netted, completely against the run of play, after they had dominated the first thirty minutes. The Hares continued to be the better side, even after they had been reduced to 10 players by a dismissal in the third minute of the second half but they were unable to breach the Bulls’ rear-guard.
The first shot on goal came from Hares’ striker Aaron McLeish, who smashed the ball against the visitors’ cross bar in the 5th minute.
Aaron McLeish hits the crossbar
Home defender, Steven Green then got into the action, testing keeper, Evan Van Der Vliet, with a long-range high shot.
Steven Green (2) tries a long shot
Aaron McLeish ran onto a through ball in the 22nd minute, to set himself up for a one-on-one situation with the keeper, in which the latter came out on top.
Aaron McLeish (9) works himself into a scoring position...
... but is foiled by the goalkeeper
Aaron was then released up the right and cut in but was robbed by a timely tackle by Harry Curtis.
Aaron McLeish is halted by Harry Curtis' timely tackle
Jersey’s first corner, in the 31st minute, produced their first shot on goal, which gave them the lead. Harry Curtis hit a superb volley from Francis Lekimamati’s kick and his shot entered the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Francis Lekimamatis' corner...
... is volleyed home by Harry Curtis (far right)
The Hares continued their offensive. Archie Alexander was put through but his shot was wide. Paul Underwood’s free kick into the box was scrambled for a corner, which the keeper leapt to take.
Evan Van Der Vliet leaps for a corner
Hares’ keeper, Cian Moore dived to save a low 25-yard drive by Fraser Barlow.
During the 2 minutes added time, Archie Alexander received the ball from a long throw-in but again his shot was off target.
Half-time score: Harefield United 0 Jersey Bulls 1
The second half started very badly for Harefield. After 3 minutes Aaron McLeish was shown the red card, following a scuffle with Luke Campbell, who received a yellow.
The referee shows Aaron McLeish the red card
Francis Lekimamati released Lorne Bickley, who shot wide from the edge of the penalty box.
Harefield continued their offensive. Dave Thomas’ header from Paul Underwood’s freekick was saved by the keeper. A defender’s outstretched foot deflected Jake Sobolak’s drive past the upright. Then Jake’s shot was blocked at the expense of a corner.
The keeper saves Dave Thomas' header
Dave Thomas struck a free kick just wide if the Jersey post.
Several scrambles occurred in the visitors’ goalmouth, as the Hares strived for an equaliser but the visitors’ defence, marshalled by Luke Campbell, held out to equal the club’s best FA Vase run.
Result: Harefield United 0 Jersey Bulls 1
One of several scrambles in the Jersey goalmouth
: Cian Moore, Steven Green, Luke Brophy, Paul Underwood, Harry Tamplin (capt), Dave Thomas, Archie Alexander (Jake Sobolak 68 mins), Prince Mbengui (Robbie Quigley 58), Aaron McLeish, Cain Wright (Will Bailey 53) and Leo Sery.
: Greg Wright, David Brown (gkpr), Dominic Jones and Gherado Luchessini.
: Wayne Carter Assistant Managers: Mark Hook and Jamie Bowler Physio: Stuart Everley.
: Evan Van Der Vliet, Will Byers, James Queret (capt), Harry Curtis, Luke Campbell, Kamen Nafkha (Joe Kilshaw 83), Francis Lekimamati (James Carr 75), Ben Le Rougetel, Lorne Bickley, Fraser Barlow and Miguel Carvalho (Luke Watson 60).
Jonny Le Quesne.
: Gary Freeman
Assistant Manager: Kev Nesan
Coach: Dan Seviaur
Referee: Josh Evans
North Greenford United also played their tie, away to Roffey and recorded a 2-1 victory, scoring the winning goal in the 4th minute of added time, after equalising in the 89th minute. They will now play Brixham at home, in the 4th round on Saturday, 13th January.
The match involving the other Middlesex club involved at this stage, Hilltop was a victim of the weather. They will try again next Saturday, 9th December.
Report: Jim Taylor
Photography: Chris Benn