Joy for Curtis as Bulls smash and grab their way into the hat

Harry Curtis scored the only goal of the game in UUֱ Bulls 1-0 win over Haresfield United in the FA Vase Picture: JON GUEGAN. (37112967)

THE lexicon of football parlance is wide and varied, much loved around the world for describing the beautiful game in a manner befitting its simplicity. And the Bulls have had their fair share thrown at them over the years – ‘one-man team’ was popular in the Sol Solomon era – but one that has rarely been affixed to a performance from the Islanders is “smash and grab”.

Well, here in west London, they unfurled an almost textbook version, delivering a telling sucker punch via the most unusual of forms in Harry Curtis, before obstinately shutting up shop to earn a win that sees them move into the last-32 for the second year in succession.

Quite often in these sorts of affairs – an arm wrestle largely played in between both boxes – you are at a premium of one moment of genuine quality, and Curtis’s goal was simply top-drawer.

Arriving into the box late, the centre-back connected perfectly with a Francis Lekimamati corner, directing his effort across the face of the goal. With the help of the crossbar, the ball thundered into the back of the net and that was that. Game, set and match.

Alongside the evergreen duo of Luke Campbell and captain James Querée, and the new kid on the block in Will Byers, Curtis helped return a 13th clean sheet for the Bulls this season.

Harefield, anchored to the foot of the Combined Counties Premier North Division, were better than their league position would suggest and, in Aaron McLeish-Wright, had an obvious threat. The former Marlow forward lashed one against the frame of Euan van der Vliet’s goal, before hitting one straight at the Bulls stopper when through on goal, both moments coming ahead of Curtis’s moment of magic. However, and sadly for him, McLeish-Wright’s telling moment can only be labelled as madness.

Early on in the second half, he lashed out at Campbell with an arm, leaving referee Josh Evans with no choice but to brandish red.

As he trudged back to the changing rooms from which he’d only just emerged, so did Harefield’s hopes.

There was plenty of spirit and desire on show from the Londoners, Kain Wright in particular, forward-thinking in his approach every time he got hold of the ball. But the Bulls are a spirited bunch these days, and with Lorne Bickley having a rare off day – Curtis’s shot count was better than his colleague in the No.9 jersey – his colleagues repaid the dues Bickley has delivered in abundance over the years. It wasn’t quite backs to the wall; measured, mature and professional more befitting.

And so a date with destiny awaits in round four, the hurdle at which the Bulls fell, rather tamely, to eventual finalists Newport Town Pagnell this time last year.

If you’ve ever spent any time with Bulls boss Gary Freeman, it won’t take you long to figure out his views on the game. Ball on the floor, full-backs doubling up and a relentless desire to attack.

He was ever candid, though, when given the hypothetical offer of another scrappy one-nil win to keep Bulls’ dreams alive beyond the last-32 – ‘yes’ was the unequivocal answer. The business end of the season is not that far away.

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