Sporting Club Thamesmead 0-2 Fisher FC
After a no-show by Barking U21s in the London Senior Trophy last Saturday, Fisher were keen to get back in to action as they travelled to Sporting Club Thamesmead for an SCEFL fixture. Dean Harrison named a similar team to the one that beat Snodland so comprehensively two weeks before, with Cameron Stevenson coming in for Jamie Brown, Dwayne Agyemang making a welcome return at the back after failing a late fitness test before the Snodland match, and a debut handed to Toyeeb Babatunde in the number 9 jersey in place of Dan Bowden. A large travelling support was there to get behind the Fish and was made very welcome by the home officials.
From the start, however, it was the home side which took the initiative. After 4 minutes they engineered their first chance with the striker running onto a ball over the top and lobbing Nic Taylor, but fortunately for Fisher the ball bounced on the top of the bar and went over. A collective sigh of relief all round. On 11 minutes, Sporting threatened again. Dan Flemming saw a loose ball behind, but a corner was awarded to his disbelief. Nic Taylor punched clear the corner, but the ball was swung in again and Taylor had to punch a second time. Fisher couldn’t get the ball away and a shot from the edge of the box was blocked in a collective effort by the defence. This time Fisher did get the ball away, and Cameron Stevenson ran onto the long clearance before shooting over from just inside the box.
A few minutes later Flemming headed a deep cross into the midfield where it was picked up by the Sporting number 10. He ran forward and shot from the edge of the box, but Nic Taylor was able to gather at the second attempt. From his clearance up the pitch, Richie Hamill got onto the ball and ghosted past several men before laying it off to Babatunde, who in turn worked it out to the left flank to Ash Wright. His cross was blocked for a corner. Hamill’s corner was deep to the back post where Luke Haidarovic was unmarked. He sent a cushioned volley abck across goal, but no-one could get on the end of it and the ball was cleared.
On 25 minutes, for the second time the Fisher defence shepherded the ball out for a goal kick only to see a corner awarded. Ash Wright cleared the first corner at the front post, but the ball went behind for another corner. The second one was headed out by Luke Haidarovic, who was imperious in the air throughout the match.
Sporting had the upper hand and Fisher were struggling to impose their usual passing game. The game went through a scrappy period with neither side able to create any openings, then on 34 minutes Fisher suffered a huge blow. A robust challenge went in on Hamill on the far side of the pitch, with the Thamesmead man taking the ball from Richie’s feet. Harry Draper ran to collect the loose ball but couldn’t gather, and the Thamesmead player who had made the tackle stayed on the ground. Play was then halted and a red card shown to Draper! No-one in the stand seemed to know what had happened, but the straight red must have been shown for violent conduct.
Despite the man disadvantage, it was Fisher who threatened next on 37 minutes. Ash Wright was fouled down near the corner flag, the free kick was swung in and attacked by Flemming, but cleared to the edge of the box where the waiting Ramsamy sent a powerful shot just over the bar. A minute later, Sporting very nearly took the lead when a shot from the edge of the box was somehow clawed out of the air by Nic Taylor, who had advanced out of his goal. Toyo Adeshina completed the clearance.
Right before the break, Fisher had to rely on a fantastic Taylor save to keep things level. A curling shot from the edge of the box was going in all the way until Taylor flung his body at it and tipped the ball onto the bar and over. From the corner, the Sporting number 10 won the ball in the air but headed over, and with that the ref brought the first half to a close.
Half time: Sporting Club Thamesmead 0-0 Fisher FC. Fisher had not been at their best at all, and would be grateful to go in level at the break, particularly with the man disadvantage. The Sporting number 4 had been pulling the strings in midfield, and Fisher needed to regroup at half time.
If the first half had not been a fair reflection of Fisher’s own high standards, the second half saw an utter transformation – whatever the manager and coaching staff said to the boys at half time clearly worked! Fisher upped the tempo of their play, doubled their work rate and went on the offensive immediately. The Fish nearly opened the scoring on 52 minutes – good work by Luke Haidarovic saw him win the ball in midfield and feed Hamill, who beat his man and worked it out to the left to Ramsamy, who in turn beat the full back and crossed to Babatunde. The big number 9 pulled the ball down and turned in the box but his shot was blocked and then cleared.
A minute later, Hamill nearly engineered the breakthrough when he chested down a loose ball, took the ball out to the right wing before doubling back inside and threading an exquisite ball through to Ramsamy in the box. His shot was blocked by the onrushing keeper, but the flag had already gone up on the far side.
Fisher really should have taken the lead on 57 minutes. Toyo Adeshina did brilliantly on the overlap down the right. He was tackled in the box but battled to win the ball back again before slipping it between two players. Ramsamy ran onto the ball and passed it past the keeper, but the ball rolled agonizingly the wrong side of the far post, with the Fisher bench and support already on their feet to celebrate.
Fisher were well on top by now, and the goal was not long in coming. Babatunde broke down the right wing and won a corner. Hamill sent across a wickedly swerving ball which was heading straight in until the keeper tipped it wide. Ramsamy gathered on the left touchline and was fouled by the right back. Hamill took the free kick but hit the one man wall. The ball came back to Hamill just inside the box, and he dinked it past the defender who had been the one man wall before being tripped. The ref pointed to the spot without hesitation. Hamill stepped up confidently and sent the keeper the wrong way with an excellent penalty [watch the goal here: https://youtu.be/PdxEquw0hZU]. 1-0 Fisher (Hamill (pen), 61 mins)
Sporting nearly got back in the game immediately. From the kick off, they advanced up the park and won a free kick on the left hand edge of the box. Nic Taylor had to look lively to tip the shot wide, and the resulting corner was then headed over.
On 64 minutes, Fisher won a corner after the ball was cleared from Ramsamy but then headed behind by a defender. The keeper punched clear, and Sporting broke up the pitch. Cameron Stevenson was shown a yellow card for pulling down the striker 25 yards from goal. The free kick was taken direct but held confidently by Nic Taylor. Halfway through the half, a long throw from the right by Adeshina was headed behind for a corner to Fisher. Dan Flemming got his head to Hamill’s cross, but could only head over.
Moments later, a long ball upfield by Thamesmead headed all the way through to Nic Taylor, who came to the edge of his box to gather. The flag had already gone up for offside against the Thamesmead striker, but he jumped into Taylor who went down and had to undergo several minutes of treatment. Despite this, no card was shown.
With ten minutes to go, Sporting were awarded a free kick 30 yards out. It seemed as if Adeshina had been booked for the challenge, but it later emerged that he must only have been spoken to. A low shot from the free kick was deflected behind, and the resulting corner was headed well wide. Fisher made their first change at this point, Stevenson being replaced by Qazzim Folawiyo after a hard shift.
On 40 minutes, Sporting were awarded another free kick 25 yards from goal, this one appearing very soft indeed. The shot was held easily by Taylor. Sporting were becoming more desperate now, but Fisher’s defence was holding firm, and a weak shot from the right wing aimed more in hope than anything was gathered easily by Taylor at his near post.
With just a couple of minutes of regulation time left, Fisher made sure of the points. After a strong run out of defence by Haidarovic, he played the ball up to Babatunde, who did well to get the ball out from under his feet, hold off his man and then play in Ramsamy, who finished brilliantly across the keeper into the far corner. A fantastic counter attacking goal, and the whole Fisher team came together to celebrate, including Taylor who had run from his goal! 2-0 Fisher (Ramsamy, 88 mins)
A minute into injury time, Toyo Adeshina was shown a yellow card for dissent, proving that he must not have been booked for the earlier tackle as he stayed on the pitch. Moments later, Adeshina was the victim of a late tackle, and reacted with fury. Several of his own teammates had to pull him away, and Dean Harrison immediately substituted the right back for Pat Geddis.
Play got underway again until, with 51 minutes on the clock, the ref finally called an end to proceedings. The Fisher, players, bench and support were all delighted, and celebrated the victory.
Full time: Sporting Club Thamesmead 0-2 Fisher FC. A fantastic, battling performance saw Fisher take all three points despite playing with only ten men for over an hour. However, without counting the players on the pitch, it would have been impossible to tell which side had ten men. Fisher’s work rate was superb, and the side’s superior fitness definitely told in the end. A fantastic effort by the whole squad and the management alike.
Man of the match: Hamill was his usual influential self, Haidarovic won every ball in the air, and the two centre halves were resolute throughout, but this week’s award has to go to Nic Taylor. A string of excellent saves kept Fisher in the match when under real pressure in the first half, and he took every ball cleanly in the second to ensure that there was no danger of dropping points.
SC Thamesmead 0-2 Fisher FC
Saturday 11 November 2017
SCEFL First Division
Ritchie Hamill (61 mins) p
Matthew Ramsamy (90 mins)
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