GARY FREEMAN said that his Jersey Bulls side were ‘ready to take everything they throw at us’ in tomorrow’s FA Vase fifth-round tie at defending champions Newport Pagnell Town.
Bulls travel to the Buckinghamshire club prepared for a taste of the unknown and a strong test against the team which won last season’s FA Vase at Wembley after beating Littlehampton Town 3-0 in the final.
A bumper and partisan crowd of around 800 is expecting to welcome Bulls’ players but, while Freeman is expecting a stern physical test, the Jersey Bulls manager believes his players will thrive in the occasion.
‘It’s a good opportunity for the players and it’s great to be going into a hostile environment in front of decent crowd,’ he said.
‘They’re a very physical side who know how to win games of football. They are very direct, will try and hit the big man up front early and feed off him. They’re very good at it.
‘But the boys will enjoy the challenge. Teams can underestimate how physical our two can be too. That said, the game doesn’t bother them and the days of teams trying to intimidate us are behind us.
‘It should be an evenly matched game between two sides near the top of their leagues.’
Freeman can enjoy the luxury of having nearly everyone available for selection, with the exception of Ruben Mendes who is out for the season, joking that everyone is feeling 100% and any ‘niggles have miraculously disappeared’.
There is no doubt, then, that the match has caught the imagination of the team, who are just three wins away from booking their own date at Wembley.
‘We said at the start of the season that the aim was to get to the latter stages and build some excitement,’ added Freeman. ‘The players are really up for what should be a special occasion.’
Meanwhile, Bulls’ performance is starting to gain the attention of Premier League clubs, with two teenagers, Sammy Henia-Kamau and Miguel Carvalho, who have broken into Freeman’s first team this season, attracting interest.
Henia-Kamau recently spent time at Fulham’s academy and is expected to be invited back after impressing, while Carvalho will be trialling at Wolverhampton Wanderers all of next week and will miss Bulls’ subsequent league games against Tadley Calleva away on Tuesday and Croydon Athletic at home next Saturday.
‘It’s tough losing them but we’ve shown that our players can play at a decent level,’ said Freeman.
‘If you’re scoring hat-tricks, people are going to take note and it puts them in the window.
‘It’s what we want too and what we are all about. It’s fantastic for them and for Jersey football.
‘Credit to those two. We only brought them in because we had a few injuries but they’ve come into the group and done really well.’
Jersey Bulls squad: Euan Van Der Vliet, Pierce Roche, Frank Tobin, Jay Giles, Jack Steel, James Querée (c), Luke Campbell, Sammy Sutcliffe, Ben Le Rougetel, Joe Kilshaw, Kamen Nafkha, Adam Trotter, Luke Watson, Jonny Le Quesne, Francis Lekimamati, Sammy Henia-Kamau, Miguel Carvalho, Lorne Bickley, Fraser Barlow, Jake Prince.