ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
REPRESENTATIVE TEAM – FRIENDLY.
JERSEY FOOTBALL COMBINATION: 1. ESBFL REPRESENTATIVE XI: 0.
Date: Saturday 28th April 2018. Venue: Springfield Stadium, St Helier, Jersey
Last weekend, the ESBFL embarked on their annual pilgrimage over to St Helier, Jersey to play the Jersey Football Combination team in a friendly match which, for the home team, leads up to the annual “Island Cup Competition” the “Muratti Cup” played between Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney and this year marks the 102nd year the competition has been played. The ESBFL players and team management travelled on Friday evening from Gatwick and returned on Sunday afternoon, whilst other ESBFL Management members and their wives travelled from Southend on Saturday returning on Tuesday afternoon.
Once again, the local Football Association had laid on transport to and from the airport and to the impressive ground, the Springfield Stadium, in St Helier, which is now a fine example of a 4G pitch and we recall that today’s opposition lost on this pitch to the Kent County League in the FA Inter-League Cup who ironically defeated the ESBFL team back in mid-February, the less said about that encounter the better, or did I mean bitter, let’s move on!
On a bright, sunny but breezy afternoon it was fair to say that both teams had made changes due to unavailability or in the case of Jersey an over-running football season, yes, even the Channel Islands suffered with bad weather experienced by the ESBFL. In fact, the top two domestic teams, St Peters FC and St Pauls FC, who normally provide a good proportion, twelve, of their team’s players had been forced to play their outstanding league fixture, no matter, their Manager, Martin Cassidy took the opportunity to blood some new players and they proved capable under-studies in this close encounter. The ESBFL also had new players in their otherwise depleted squad, another chance for them to show Manager, Tony Armstrong, that other players can adapt to Representative Team football.
The referee, Andy Norman, was a face we seasoned island hoppers, have met before, who was assisted by David Brunton and Carlo Franco with Luke Nepac as the 4th Official, with both teams agreeing to “roll-on / roll-off” substitutes, a reporter’s nightmare!
Jersey kicked off but the ESBFL gained possession and pressed forward with Pator finding Barnard who passed to Okosi with Mensah hitting a fine shot goal-wards where keeper Birrell defied logic with a fine flying save to tip the ball just over the corner of the post and crossbar for the first corner of the match. Dobrowolski got past Batty to find Richardson (J) and from his cross towards Loveridge, O’Shea was on hand to defend but nevertheless a bright start from the ESBFL, which was followed by a shot from Loveridge that whizzed past the right hand upright, then Lodge found Dobrowolski whose deep cross was headed clear by Griffin. Jersey eventually gained possession with Rawlings firing wide from a defence splitting pass by Gabbiadini, no, not the one that plays for Southampton, but certainly a dead-ringer in looks! Dobrowolski, playing, as usual in a wide left side position was seeing plenty of the early possession and behind him Rowe, thrown in as a wide defender was quickly into a tackle on Richardson (T) and even by the ten-minute mark this was going to be a tactical passing game between what looked like two evenly matched teams. Tall defender, Griffin worked the ball out of defence to find Coutanche with Pator defending well to find Lodge who almost set up Loveridge for a shot with the player losing his feet at a crucial moment with his eventual shot being blocked by Queree. Another long ball from Farthing found Loveridge running clear but impressive keeper Birrell was quickly out to the edge of his penalty area and control and pass to Griffin who fed Coutanche and from his pass, Glitheroe sent a lofted shot bouncing wide.
Lodge found Dobrowolski running wide before cutting inside to beat Batty and Nafkha before shooting with Queree blocking the shot on the edge of the penalty area, Gabbiadini fouled Dobrowolski with the free-kick taken by Loveridge with Griffin clearing with a towering header. A long throw-in from Rowe was destined for Farthing who fouled Griffin in the process and Jersey moved forward through Batty on the right side to find Gabbiadini who beat Rowe before crossing into the penalty area where Lodge tidily swept up. O’Shea for Jersey looked comfortable getting forward down the left side with Coutanche a willing runner to reach the pass and cross to the far post towards Batty, supporting his attack, but Whymark intercepted with some safe hands near the penalty spot. Dobrowolski made another break down the left side, finding Loveridge whose shot was again blocked and Jersey broke forward with Loveridge recovering to tackle back and dispossess Glitheroe. The ESBFL had played well in the first twenty minutes but Jersey also looked dangerous when moving forward using both wing-backs, with Batty finding Glitheroe whose long cross bounced wide, then Dobrowolski found Lodge who seemingly fouled, kept going forward to find Barnard who flicked the ball on with his head to find Okosi whose first- time shot was charged down by O’Shea with Birrell picking up the loose ball. On twenty-five minutes Jersey replaced Gabbiadini with Romeril, Lodge defended well against Rawlings to concede a corner, taken by Coutanche with Pator heading clear beyond the far post from where O’Shea lofted the ball back into the penalty area, keeper Whymark advanced with a call for the ball, Farthing appeared to let the ball continue goal-wards but JACK GRIFFIN popped up to head the ball into the unguarded net for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
On thirty minutes Lodge made a great tackle on Coutanche and release Loveridge but Birrell was quickly out to plant the ball high into the trees on the far side, no messing there then, Rowe sent in a log throw which having been cleared was picked up by Richardson (J) to Barnard and then Loveridge with Okosi letting fly with a rising shot that cannoned off the back of Griffin for a corner. The corner from Loveridge was quickly cleared and the ESBFL found themselves lacking in defensive numbers as Coutanche ran forward to find Romeril who forced Whymark into a fine save at the near post for a corner, taken by Coutanche but cleared by Farthing. A long clearance from Whymark fell to Dobrowolski and he played in Loveridge who chipped the ball against the cross-bar and safety, Pator then passed to Richardson (J) with Okosi taking up the running to find Loveridge with Barnard slipping past Griffin only for Birrell, advancing to block any attempt to shoot, but another decent attack from the ESBFL, it just needed a final, decisive shot at goal as the approach play was good. Nafkha for Jersey found Batty and when Rawlings wriggled free from the close attentions of Pator, he shot wide. Pator and Okosi then set Barnard through, looked off-side but no flag was raised however despite a decent shot towards goal, keeper Birrell made a fine one-handed save on his six-yard line, to deny the striker, what was that about finishing! Birrell cleared wide towards Batty, who found Coutanche who skipped past Rowe with Whymark making a fine block when advancing but it served as a lesson to the ESBFL that Jersey were a dangerous side when on the attack.
HALF-TIME: 1 – 0.
ESBFL replaced Richardson (J) with Lamb in midfield straight from the kick-off, Farthing sent a booming clearance towards the Jersey defence where keeper Birrell appeared to lose sight of the ball in the bright sunshine, then Farthing eased Romeril off the ball, fairly, as the pacey forward looked to break forward. A throw-in from Rowe found Dobrowolski who headed on only for Griffin to power a high header clear for a corner, taken by Loveridge but too close to Birrell who clutched the ball comfortably. Lamb found Pator which led to Loveridge winning a corner, taken by Okosi with Griffin heading clear to Rowe who pushed forward to gain another corner, taken by Loveridge with Lodge heading over from close range. Ten minutes into the second half and Jersey replaced Richardson (T) with Hall, Jersey were covering well but the ESBFL found a distinct lack of a clinical finish up-front after good approach play. Jersey Captain, Queree made a fine tackle on Barnard who recovered to pass wide to Okosi but home keeper Birrell was quickest to the loose ball, Dobrowolski found Barnard but again Birrell was alert and reached the ball first.
When Jersey attacked, ESBFL keeper Whymark tried to control a through ball with Coutanche but when the ball ran free, Farthing was quick to intercept the goal-bound pass with Lodge running around to complete some good defensive work for the ESBFL. On sixty-five minutes, the ESBFL replaced Barnard with a not fully fit, Fennell, who was keen to participate and Jersey replaced Rawlings with Nobes, two minutes later, then Loveridge was replaced by Knowles. A high curling free-kick from Okosi almost caught out keeper, Birrell with a goal-kick following, and for a period the game had gone flat, maybe the warm weather and the 4G pitch, which can be quite tiring was having an effect! Lodge blocked a pile-driver effort from Romeril with Okosi giving chase to the cleared ball until he was fouled on the half-way line, Okosi took the free-kick himself with Dobrowolski heading over the cross-bar. Lodge sent in a long free-kick towards Dobrowolski but keeper, Birrell was out to catch on his six-yard line, Rowe fouled Romeril on the edge of the penalty area with Glitheroe hitting the edge of the defensive wall.
With twelve minutes remaining another flurry of substitutions followed with Knowles being replaced by Barnard and for Jersey Coutanche was replaced by Rivers, Fennell won a corner off Batty, taken by Okosi towards Lodge whose header was blocked, then Farthing sent a long ball forward which was handled by O’Shea. As the final minutes ticked away a free-kick from Okosi was held by Birrell and Fennell used his pace to beat a defender before testing keeper, Birrell with a low shot which the keeper saved low to his left-hand side.
FULL TIME: 1 – 0.
As I expected, this was a very close fought match, both sets of players adapted well to the 4G “artificial” surface on a warm and sunny afternoon, the game was played in an excellent spirit, and whilst a draw was perhaps the preferred outcome the Jersey team won it by the odd goal, scored in the first half.
The ESBFL would like to thank the Jersey Football Combination for their fine hospitality and hope this friendly work-out helps their quest to lift the coveted “Muratti Cup” in the next few days.
As this was a friendly, I’m not going to nominate a Man-of-the-Match, any squad of players who can commit to representing their league away from home in testing circumstances deserves to be praised as this was a team effort, well done.
JERSEY FOOTBALL COMBINATION: Colours: Red Shirts, White Shorts and Red Socks.
Dan Birrell., Charlie Batty., Connor O’Shea., James Queree (C)., Jack Griffin., Josh Coutanche., Kamen Nafkha., Tom Richardson., Jules Gabbiadini., George Glitheroe., Matt Rawlings.
Manager: Martin Cassidy.
Coaches: Paddy O’Toole and Michael Hale.
Physio: Jack McDermott.
Used Substitutes: Dan Romeril., Max Rivers., Tom Hall., Evan Nobes.
Unused Substitutes: Robert Martins-Figueiria., Bradley Rolland.
ESBFL REPRESENTATIVE XI: Colours: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue Socks.
Laurence Whymark., Bartosz Pator., Dominic Rowe., Scott Lodge (C)., Nicholas Farthing., Jake Richardson., Marley Okosi., Abednego Mensah., Luke Barnard., Ricky Loveridge., Kane Dobrowolski.
Manager: Tony Armstrong.
Assistant Manager: Cliff Akurang.
Physio: Mark Newell.
Used Substitutes: Oliver Lamb., Andy Fennell., Matthew Knowles.
Referee: Andy Norman.
Assistants: David Brunton & Carlo Franco.
4th Official: Luke Nepac.
EXTRACT FROM JERSEY EVENING POST
Youngsters impress Cass at Springfield.
ISLAND manager Martin Cassidy enjoyed the opportunity to assess an entirely new squad at Springfield on Saturday, after being forced to take on Essex & Suffolk Border League without 12 first-choice players. St Peter FC’s rearranged trip to St Paul’s took precedence ahead of yesterday’s crucial Combination Premiership clash, meaning a dozen players who featured in Jersey’s friendly against Upton Park last month were unavailable. The player-shortages were soon forgotten, though, as Trinity captain Jack Griffin handed the new-look Caesarean side a 1-0 triumph with a first-half header. ‘If we look at this game in isolation it was a great performance for the players who committed to the game,’ said Cassidy. ‘It gave me more time to look at them and I got to see what they can do for us in the future, if we need them. ‘I’m delighted for the whole team, but special mention needs to go to the younger ones who came in. Dan Birrell made an excellent save in the first couple of minutes which set the tone for us, Josh Coutanche played well, and Charlie Batty coped well on the left and affected the game going forward. ‘And then there’s also players like George Glithero coming in from Rozel – he’s a different type of centre-forward for us to look at, and it shows how important it is to get out and have a look at different players. ‘It was a brilliant exercise.’
Jersey FA: Dan Birrell, Jack Griffin, James Quérée, Connor O’Shea, Charlie Batty, Kamen Nafkha, Tom Richardson, Josh Coutanche, George Glithero, Jules Gabbiadini, Matt Rawlings.
Subs: Dan Romeril, Tommy Hall, Evan Nobes, Robert Martins-Figueira, Max Rivers, Bradley Rolland.
Photographs taken on match day can be found on the following link:
just scroll through to find images