Fisher made safe passage through to the first round proper of the FA Vase with a 2-0 win on the South Coast at East Preston FC. Having already disposed of two clubs from the Southern Counties League in which Each Preston lie in bottom spot, the Fish went into the game not expecting to be unduly troubled in this second qualifying tie. However, a combination of a very difficult playing surface and a dogged performance from their hosts saw the Fish struggle to turn their territorial advantage into goals and with no extra time and the tie going straight to penalties the outcome remained in the balance for much of the 90 minutes.
Josh Biddlecombe, Luke Thomas, Harry Main and Peter Ojemen all returned to the starting line-up, as boss Ajay Ashanike shuffled the squad to give players game time and cover injuries and suspensions. However a quick reshuffle was required when early on in the game Ojemen’s troubling hamstring caused him to depart to be replaced by Dylan Pauw.
The early chances all fell to Fisher. Biddlecombe escaped on the right and advanced into the box but fired wide of the near post, when perhaps ‘low and hard across the keeper’ should have been the call. Jamie Yila burst into the box on several occasions down the left but each time his delivery evaded any attacking feet and Harry Main had a good effort charged down. Rob Brown also had a strong shout for a penalty turned down as he went down under a clumsy challenge having skipped into the box.
Despite the pressure the goal wouldn’t come until on the half hour when Yila swung over a low corner and after a scramble at the near post Harry Main recycled the ball and poked it through to Melvin Adesida to tuck it home from the edge of the six yard box. The hosts almost drew level immediately and a break on their left saw Sam Fitzgerald clear off the line. Five minutes later Fisher almost doubled the lead, but Rob Brown’s effort, when a corner was half cleared to him, was deflected onto the angle of bar and post and flew away to safety. Just prior to break Brown again had a good chance, but alone in front of goal, could not get sufficient contact on his header to steer Yila’s cross goalwards, although a flag may well have gone up had the ball ended in the net such was the suspicion of offside.
The second half quickly took the same pattern as the first. Fisher saw plenty of good possession and always looked likely to break the hosts back line with Yila a constant threat. A combination of delayed release of the ball, unfortunate bounces and good tackles from the East Preston defence stopped Fisher from getting too many clear cut chances. A well-flighted free kick from Yila found Sam Fitzgerald at the back post but his header was well saved and tipped away from a corner as Fisher ramped up the pressure.
Fresh legs came on in the shape of Tarik Ibrahim and returnee Elias Armah-Tackie who made his first appearance of the season after a spell with Haringey Borough. Ibrahims’ direct running on the wing saw a number of good moves down the right but the home defence always managed to get a vital block or challenge to the resulting delivery.
With the game moving into the last fifteen minutes Fisher faced a stick or twist decision, as trying to hang on to the single goal lead would backfire with any equaliser taking the game straight to the lottery of penalties. The tension was eased when Yila raced clear from half way and skipping the last defender’s lunging tackle found himself one on one with the keeper whereupon he calmly took his time to draw the dive from the keeper before slamming the ball past the covering defenders to double the lead and give Fisher a two goal cushion to take into the final 10 minutes. The importance of the second goal was shown when the hosts rallied for a late flourish with a quick break ending in a shot flashing wide of Dan Carpanini’s goal and a series of angled balls into the box resulting in headers flashing both high and wide albeit accompanied by the linesman’s flag as the Fisher back line held firm.
The final whistle saw Fisher through into the draw for the first round much to the delight of the impressive travelling support of 56 out of a crowd of 114. Not the most fluent performance but cup football is about getting the job done and the 2-0 win certainly did that.
East Preston 0-2 Fisher
Saturday 10 October 2020
FA Vase – 2nd Round Qualifying