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Match report: Fisher 3-4 FHP

Fisher FC 3-4 Forest Hill Park

After last week’s disappointment at Holmesdale finally brought an end to Fisher’s run of nine straight league wins, the Fish returned home to St Paul’s to face Forest Hill Park in the quarter final of the London Senior Trophy. There was a debut for right back Harvey Brinkley, signed from VP Meridian after impressing in Fisher 3-1 win against them on 30 December, and a full debut for Sam Pekun after his impressive showing from the bench last weekend.

It was a cold and wet afternoon at St Paul’s, with the floodlights having to be turned on before kick-off such was the gloom that had descended. If the weather was dark, the mood of Fisher’s management team and supporters was soon even darker. FHP forced a corner after Dan Flemming had to step across to cover and play the ball behind. Luke Haidarovic headed the ball behind for a second corner, but Fisher failed to clear the second cross and the FHP number ten shot through a crowd of players and past the unsighted Taylor from the penalty spot. 0-1, 8 mins

Fisher tried to regain their rhythm and started to put the FHP keeper under pressure. On 11 minutes, Haidarovic did well to regain possession midfield and looked for Babatunde in the box, but the keeper just beat him to the ball. Two minutes later, a Jamie Brown cross was punched clear by the keeper. Richie Hamill picked up on the left hand side of the box, floated a cross back over the stranded keeper’s head but Babatunde’s header went wide of the unguarded net.

18 minutes in, Jamie Brown was beaten to a cross form Sam Pekun, but Harry Draper met the ball inside the box and returned it towards goal. It seemed to have been blocked by a defender by the referee signaled a goal kick. Two minutes later, a great Pekun run down the left wing saw the little livewire win a corner. The FHP keeper punched and a defender completed the clearance.

On 27 minutes, a defensive lapse allowed Toyeeb Babatunde to pick up and shoot from the edge of the box, with the FHP keeper out of position. Sadly for the home team, his shot flashed narrowly over. Five minutes later, Sam Pekun rounded the keeper and tried to cross from the byline, but a defender managed to block the ball behind for a corner. The FHP keeper flapped at the corner once again, but his defence managed to clear.

Pekun again threatened on 38 minutes, when he took down a great deep cross from Hamill at the back post and squeezed the ball past the keeper who had dived at his feet. Unfortunately the ball ran agonizingly wide of the left hand post. A minute later, Fisher paid the price for their profligacy. The FHP number 8, Ashley-Paul Robinson, who had caused problems for Fisher in the league match on Non-League Day, was allowed the time and space to play a simple slide rule pass through the heart of the Fisher defence. The number 9 ran on to the pass and slid the ball past the helpless Taylor. 0-2, 39 mins

Fisher then missed two gilt-edged chances to get back into the game. On 40 minutes, Jamie Brown danced through the FHP defence, rounded the keeper and cut the ball back to the unmarked Pekun with the goal wide open. Pekun leant back and got right under the ball, sending it high over the bar. Four minutes later, and Brown created an even simpler chance for Pekun. Again he dazzled the FHP defence, hit the byline and squared the ball to the waiting Pekun at the back post. Just when it looked easier to score than to miss, the Fisher number 11 slipped and missed the ball.

Half-time: Fisher 0-2 FHP. A similar story to the league match between the two sides: Fisher dominating possession, having the bulk of the chances, but failing to convert. FHP took their chances well, but Fisher will be disappointed with the defending which did not meet the high standards they have set consistently this season.

Straight from kick-off, Fisher tried to get back into the game. Jamie Brown sent a low cross flashing across the face of goal, but neither Babatunde nor Pekun could get the vital touch to turn the ball into the net. Hamill then floated a free kick from deep into the box, and Dan Flemming won the header but could not direct it past the keeper who held the ball.

On 49 minutes, however, it seemed to be game over. Miscommunication amongst the Fisher backline saw the defenders leave it for each other, Nic Taylor came out of his goal and the FHP number 10 nipped in and lobbed Taylor from outside the box. A very well taken finish, but entirely preventable from Fisher’s point of view. 0-3, 49 mins

A minute later, Fisher forced a corner. Jamie Brown took it and sent in a wickedly curling cross which was left by everyone, hit the bar, bounced down and was cleared. It seemed to be one of those days for Fisher, and the day got worse still on 53 minutes. FHP were awarded a free kick after a needless foul outside the box, the number 8 Robinson took it and sent the ball into the top left hand corner. A great strike, but again Fisher will rue the defensive slackness which was so unlike the way they have played for much of the season. 0-4, 53 mins

With just over half an hour to play, Dean Harrison rang the changes, bringing Trey Small and Rob Brown on for Babatunde and Hamill. Almost immediately, the changes had an impact: Harry Draper was fouled just outside the box, Rob Brown’s shot was parried by the keeper and Jamie Brown tapped home the rebound. Sadly, the far-side linesman’s flag went up and the goal was chopped off.

On 64 minutes, Fisher were handed a lifeline. Harry Draper was tripped by the keeper in the box after a determined run and cut back by Pekun. A stonewall penalty which Rob Brown converted with ease after a delay for some histrionics from the FHP keeper for no clear reason given the stonewall nature of the award. See the goal here: 1-4, Rob Brown (pen), 65 mins

Three minutes later, Rob Brown tried to reduce the deficit further with a shot from outside the box which the FHP keeper was able to hold. Mathieu Ramsamy then came on for Draper on 71 minutes, and a minute later he nearly got on the scoresheet. A strong run by Toyo Adeshina saw the right back find Ramsamy inside the box, and his cross-cum-shot was deflected behind by the keeper’s legs for a corner, but the corner came to nothing.

With 15 minutes left, Robinson had another attempt from a free kick in a similar position to the one he had already converted. This time, the ball was slightly closer to goal, and it proved a little too close to get the ball up over the wall and back under the bar. A minute later, Fisher got one more back. A stunning shot from Adeshina from the left hand corner of the box found the top right hand corner, and suddenly Fisher had a glimmer of hope. 2-4, Toyo Adeshina, 76 mins

Two minutes later, and the Fisher faithful really did start to believe the comeback could be on. A corner was knocked down and Rob Brown lashed home from ten yards, the ball seeming to go through the FHP keeper. 3-4, Rob Brown, 78 mins

For the remainder of the game, Fisher huffed and puffed but just could not find a way through the FHP defence for a fourth time. With five minutes left, a defender slid into Luke Haidarovic just outside the right hand side of the box. The ball ran behind, but the ref contrived to award a goal kick when it seemed clear that either the FHP defender had not got the ball and had therefore fouled the Fisher player, who stayed down injured, or else had got the last touch and given away a corner. The ref went off the pitch and got into a heated conversation with a spectator. The players decided to get on with the game, and play continued for a minute before anyone noticed the absence of the referee. A second spectator joined the debate with the referee, which ended with the referee threatening to abandon the game if the two spectators did not move from their position near the halfway line to behind the goals. It is not clear how or why the referee thought he had the authority to do that, and the spectators would have been quite entitled to stand their ground, but they decided to move in the interests of diplomacy and of getting on with the match. In hindsight, perhaps abandoning the match would have been the best outcome for Fisher… A truly bizarre incident!

When play finally did resume, Rob Brown nearly got his hat-trick when a Ramsamy cross was pushed out by the keeper. The combative midfielder met the ball on the edge of the box and did well to get over it as it bounced awkwardly, but sadly his shot just cleared the bar. Fisher forced several more corners but could not get the equaliser. Rob Brown had the final chance for Fisher, when a clear foul on the edge of the box was completely ignored by the referee. Fortunately, his linesman flagged for it. Brown sent the ball over, and that was the end of Fisher’s hopes of taking the game to extra time:

Full-time: Fisher 3-4 FHP. A stirring fight back, but it was too little too late for Fisher on a bad day at the office. A real chance of silverware squandered, with the home team having more than enough chances to win the game, but being made to pay for their defensive slackness.

Man of the match: Toyo Adeshina scored a fantastic goal and helped push the team forward in the last 20 minutes with his driving runs. Rob Brown made a real impact from the bench, converting the penalty with ease, scoring the third goal and being involved in the thick of the action. However, the award goes to Jamie Brown who was a constant threat for Fisher. He put in cross after cross, and created more than enough chances on his own for Fisher to win the game. A welcome return to the starting line-up for the dangerous winger!

Fisher 3-4 Forest Hill Park
Saturday 20 January 2018
London Senior Trophy quarter-final

Rob Brown 65(p), 78
Toyo Adeshina 76

Forest Hill Park:
Jay Burke 8, 49
Andrade Caetano 39
Ashley Paul Robinson 53


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