Bickley sparkles as Fleet are sunk

Bulls' star forward Lorne Bickley was at it again on Saturday with 2 more goals in their 5-1 win over Fleet Town, his tally now up to 31 goals this season Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (37898392)

Jersey Bulls 5

Bickley (44, 68), Barlow (49), Ward (89) og, Mendes (90+1)

Fleet Town 1

Bone (85)

JEP Player of the Match: Will Byers

It was high-fives all round for the Jersey Bulls as they dismantled Fleet Town to keep a hold of second place in the Combined Counties Premier Division South.

April has been quite the month for the Jersey side. Since the 0-0 draw against Redhill on 30 March, Gary Freeman’s side have won five on the bounce, scoring 16 goals and conceding just once.

Star striker for the Bulls, Lorne Bickley, has been responsible for nine of those in the last five games, and he was at it again with two again this game, an outstanding purple patch to say the least.

But the red contingent inside Springfield Stadium could hardly believe their eyes when, just 60 seconds into the match, Fraser Barlow hooked a left-footed cross straight across the face of goal to Bickley. With time for a cup of tea in the six-yard area, the Bulls main man somehow managed to lift it over the bar, leaving Bickley and the crowd with their hands on their heads in bemusement.

Despite the early chance going begging, the Islanders looked in magnificent form but just unable to break through. With the score still goalless at the half-hour stage, and even with Fleet Town skipper Mathew Surmon picking up a yellow card, the Bulls were still craving an opening.

It didn’t help when left-back Jay Giles, who has been sidelined for long periods with injury this season, went down after 34 minutes. He would eventually hobble off, with Will Byers replacing him.

With half-time looming, the Islanders still had nothing to show for their dominance. It looked like the deadlock might have been broken when Trotter went on a surging run through the Fleet defence and laying off to Barlow in a good position, but he saw his thumping left-footed strike well saved by Fleet’s player-manager Elliott Hunt between the sticks.

The breakthrough did eventually come, however, just before the half-time whistle, and who else would be the man to step up but Bickley.

Bulls captain James Querée delivered the ball on a silver platter, which Bickley dutifully gobbled up to make the mood at the break that much brighter.

It was a massive moment in the match, and potentially the season, as word broke through that third-place Knaphill were cruising to an emphatic 5-0 victory themselves over Redhill.

If there were nerves in the crowd, they were certainly put to rest just four minutes into the resumption. Byers picked up the ball just inside the opposition half and, like a prime Ronaldinho, proceeded to nutmeg his man before completely skinning the Fleet Town left-back.

All that was required was the final product, which was expertly delivered. A low cross across the six-yard box found Fraser Barlow for the easiest of finishes and a truly wonderful Jersey Bulls goal.

The pair were nearly at it again just two minutes later, with Byers making another Fifa Street-style dribble down the right, but this time, Barlow saw his eventual volley blocked.

A couple of minutes later, the Bulls were hammering down on the Fleet Town door as Bickley was slotted smoothly through and, trying to catch the keeper out at his near post, just caught the outside corner for a goal kick.

Fleet Town finally managed to create a chance of their own, their only real major test on Pierce Roche’s goal until that point, when their captain Matt Surmon was played through. Roche, however, off the back of five consecutive clean sheets, was rapid off his line and made an excellent save.

Fleet eventually were the making of their own errors when, after 68 minutes, a Kamen Nafkha lump down field was terribly dealt with by the yellow’s back line and Bickley again, one on one with the keeper, slotted home with ease to give Jersey a three-goal cushion.

The one minor blip for the Bulls came with just five minutes remaining when Daniel Bone snuck across the front post to nod Fleet Town a goal back and end Roche’s aim of a sixth consecutive clean sheet.

Seeming to have a sudden taste for goal, Fleet would find the net again in the 89th minute, however this time it was at the wrong end.

Miguel Carvalho, subbed on for Francis Lekimamati, crossed from the right wing, only for defender Jim Ward tounfortunately lace the ball into the bottom corner of his own net, a finish Bickley himself would have been proud of.

Just as the player-of-the-match award was being heavily debated in the media box, Jersey managed to round off the perfect day with a fifth goal in added time, courtesy again of a vote-flipping second Will Byers assist.

Breaking down the right once again, his cross found Ruben Mendes, who finished with no trouble to keep the Bulls in full command of second place and, with a bit of luck, a chance of a home play-off final.

Bulls: Pierce Roche, James Querée (c), Jay Giles (off 34), Harry Curtis, Luke Campbell, Kamen Nafkha (off 71), Francis Lekimamati (off 64), Luke Watson, Lorne Bickley, Adam Trotter (off 64), Fraser Barlow. Substitutes: Ben Le Rougetel (on 71), Jonny Le Quesne, Will Byers (on 34), Miguel Carvalho (on 64), Ruben Mendes (on 64)

Fleet Town: Elliott Hunt, Joe Wotton, Tommy Taylor, Josh Nunes, Bradley Pegg, Arjgend Ahmetaj, Brad Manning, Luke Phair (off 71), Daniel Bone, Mathew Surmon (c) (off 84), Leo Downing (off 73). Substitutes: Liam Prestle, Daniel Gray (on 73), Ahmed Haidary (on 84), Mihail Marinescu, Jim Ward (on 71)

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