In the Wheway Cup first round tie against Jersey Portuguese, JTC JWFC came from a goal down to win 2-1 in what turned out to be a stormy – yet entertaining – game at Les Quennevais on Tuesday night (8 September 2015).
With Jamie Brewster in goal, Paul McLaughlin came in at right back to an otherwise unchanged side with Brad Stratford, Clayton Romeril and Tommy Buchanan in defence. Lekimamati, Nafkha, Thompson and Andrews made up the midfield with Savory and Bickley spearheading the attack.
On a good surface, albeit a little slow, Wanderers started the game brightly and, in the first exchanges, some excellent play down the right hand side by McLaughlin released Nafkha and Bickley to deliver dangerous crosses that the Portuguese defence managed to clear. Most notably, after another excellent move with some crisp passing, Bickley again flashed the ball across the area for the oncoming Jamie Savory to smash marginally over the bar to the relief of the large and excitable Portuguese supporters. A short back pass by Lekimamati allowed the Portuguese their first sight on goal but Brewster made a fine save to his left to deny an opening goal and save Lekimamati’s blushes.
Beforehand, the ever improving Bickley had an excellent opportunity to add to his goal tally when he nodded a bouncing ball past his marker but his early strike was beaten away by Rubella in the Portuguese goal.
Disaster struck soon after when Buchanan who had seemingly won possession at left back lost his footing. In an effort to retrieve the situation, Romeril swept around to collect but his back pass intended for Brewster held up in the grass leaving the Portuguese attack clear through on goal. Brewster’s attempt to win the ball resulted in a clear foul and a penalty was awarded. With Chris Mallett on the goal line, Brewster avoided an otherwise obvious red card and he was duly booked for his troubles. Clife Silva dispatched the penalty kick, sending Brewster the wrong way, allowing Portuguese to go into the break a goal to the good.
With the Portuguese supporters becoming increasingly animated and, at times encroaching onto the pitch, the second half continued with further chances being created predominantly in front of the Portuguese goal. With half an hour remaining, Wanderers were awarded a free kick 25 yards out. With a training ground set piece in mind, up stepped Ollie Thompson with a curling effort around the Portuguese wall for the ball to nestle in the bottom corner out of reach from the flailing Rubella to level the match.
With Wanderers now in the ascendancy, all hell was to break lose soon after. With a player from each side tangled up on the floor, the Portuguese midfielder appeared to kick out, sparking reaction from both sides. With Portuguese supporters running onto the pitch and players from both sides pushing and shoving, the chaos eventually died down leaving the officials to identify and deal with things. Astonishingly, Portuguese escaped what should have been at least one red card and bookings were duly administered to two Portuguese players – including Reuben Legge which turned out to prove costly.
With a quarter of an hour to play, a ball up to Legge in the Portuguese attack was slightly over hit and, with the impressive forward starting to show signs of frustration, he reached up to handle the ball, attracting a second yellow card and his night was over as he trudged back to the large gathering of prickly Jersey Portuguese’s supporters.
It wasn’t long before the numerical advantage paid off and after the introduction of Jamie Mourant, Evan Nobes and Corey Romeril, it was Romeril who provided the surging run down the right with fresh legs to deliver another dangerous ball into the box, Bickley sharply turned and shot. The ball was blocked and looped up into the air for Savory to nod in what turned out to be the winner from close range. Happy days.
Coach Trevor Makin said: “We’re obviously delighted to progress to the next round of the Wheway and win what was a difficult tie. We’ve done well to navigate ourselves through an always challenging game and set of circumstances but the lads showed discipline and restraint from provocation – something which we all spoke about before the game and we finished the game with 11 men still on the park. The boys played some great stuff in patches but we didn’t hit our straps for long enough sustained periods. In fairness, Portuguese broke the game up well to put us out of our stride but I don’t think anyone can argue that the better team won on the night”.