Midweek spying mission pays off as Fareham Town knock Jersey Bulls out in FA Vase penalty shoot out drama
A midweek spying mission to Surrey paid off as Fareham Town claimed a famous FA Vase victory over much-fancied Jersey Bulls.
The Reds scored a 4-3 shoot-out success against the Combined Counties League Premier South hot-shots following a 1-1 draw at Cams Alders.
Calum Benfield cancelled out a controversial Sol Solomon first-half opener before keeper Jon Webb emerged as the home hero, saving two penalties and scoring Fareham’s fifth.
Boss Pete Stiles had journeyed to Badshot Lea earlier in the month to watch Bulls in league action. Though they won 2-0 against the league leaders, he told The News last week he had spotted potential weaknesses.
And it was via one of them that Benfield struck a 52nd minute leveller.
‘I’d noticed that their keeper didn’t come off his line that well,’ said Stiles. ‘That was one of our tactics - to knock balls into their six-yard box - and that’s how we scored.
‘First half, they were the better side but we had the better chances. Second half we took it to them but they had chances.’
Bulls took the lead just before the interval. Solomon had gone off to receive treatment prior to a free-kick, yet was allowed back on before play had restarted - and the top scorer netted direct from the set-piece.
‘We were very disappointed,’ said Stiles. ‘I felt the referee got that totally wrong.’
He added: ‘We were very much up for the game. You could tell that before the game - I didn't have to say a lot, it was more a case of calming them down as they were bouncing off the walls. We knew we were going to have a tough game - they (Bulls) are a totally good side.
We knew they had won most of their league games, but had they been tested that much? They’d never played us before, and that’s not giving it the big one.
‘When we’re in the right frame of mind, we can give anyone a game.
‘It was the best effort we’ve put in this season. The effort and commitment was certainly there. Was it the best we have played this season? I don’t know.’
Fareham are one of ten clubs still flying the flag for the Wessex League in the Vase second round draw which will be made on Monday.
Fellow Premier sides Brockenhurst, Hamworthy, Bashley and Shaftesbury also progressed on Saturday, as did Division 1 trio Bemerton, New Milton and Andover New Street. In addition, US Portsmouth and Christchurch enter the tournament (all clubs that reached the fourth round last season have a bye to the second round).
It’s Fareham’s turn to cross the water on Tuesday, with a Wessex League Premier trip to Cowes Sports.