Fareham handed tough FA Vase tie against Jersey Bulls

Fareham Town will enter the FA Vase with a home tie against cup kings Jersey Bulls next month.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 2:22 pm
Josh Benfield, pictured during Fareham's FA Vase win against Roman Glass St George last season, misses tomorrow's Wessex Premier clash with Christchurch through injury. Picture: Keith Woodland

The Reds, who are coming in at the first round proper stage this season after reaching round three last term, have been handed a tough draw against the Combined Counties Premier Division South side on Saturday, October 23.

Jersey Bulls have already played seven matches in cup competitions this season, winning six of those and drawing the other prior to coming through an FA Cup replay against higher tier Sutton Common Rovers.

In fact, the Bulls are just two wins away from reaching the FA Cup first round proper and host Chertsey Town in a third round qualifying tie on Saturday.

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They are one of only five step 5 clubs still left in the FA Cup.

Although Jersey sit second-bottom in their league, they have only played three games given their various cup exploits.

The Bulls were handed promotion in the close season as part of the FA’s non-league restructuring. That was no surprise, as they had won all 31 of their step 6 matches since the start of 2019/20.

Indeed, they had already clinched promotion when the 2019/20 season was halted in mid-March, and subsequently null and voided, due to the pandemic.

The Bulls have never lost a Vase tie. Last season they won their first ever match in the competition but then had to withdraw due to pandemic travel restrictions placed on Jersey at the time.

Jersey have won through two qualifying rounds this season, beating Tooting Bec 3-0 away and Crowboroug 5-0 at home - top scorer Sol Solomon taking his seasonal tally to 13 in 10 games with a hat-trick last Saturday.

Fareham, though, have firepower of their own and already netted 47 goals in 12 matches in all competitions this term.

In the immediate future, Pete Stiles' men are focused on a home meeting with Christchurch in the Wessex League Premier Division tomorrow.

Fareham ran out thumping 7-1 winners in the reverse fixture earlier this month.

Stiles said: '‘It can go both ways, if you score early they think, ‘oh here we go again,’, whereas if you don’t score then they think they’ll be able to hold us out because we humiliated them before and they'll try even harder.

‘It’s a shame really because we had everything lined up to play the same team as we did against them down there, but we’ve got a couple of injuries which have blown it, really.'

Fareham will be without Josh Benfield (groin) against Christchurch after he was forced off in the 6-1 weekend caning of US Portsmouth.

Defender Ash Tattersall is also a doubt after aggravating a knee injury in Saturday's victory.