Fisher 3-2 Phoenix Sports
Tuesday 10 January 2024
SCEFL Challenge Cup Third Round
Scorers: Isaac Thompson (58 min), Eni Amgbaduba (68 min), Michael Sarpong (71 min)
Fisher advanced to the quarter finals of the SCEFL Challenge Cup with a well-earned 3-2 win over Phoenix Sports on a damp night at St Pauls. A late comeback from the visitors made the game closer than it had actually been with Fisher romping to a second half three goal lead.
Manager Ajay Ashanike made several changes to the line up to rest players, with Inesh Sumithran coming in at right back, Eni Amgbaduba leading the line and a start in midfield for Osemen Usifoh along with Justice Owusu in goal. There were places for Pat Hoy and Julio Da Mata on the bench.
The first spell had given little indication of the goal fest to come with both sides pushing the ball around without really testing either keeper. Fisher came closest to opening the scoring when Amgbaduba put new Phoenix signing Ryan Sawyer under pressure following a misunderstanding with veteran keeper Andy Walker and the ball fell to Billy Brown’s whose instinctive shot from distance just went wide of the post with Walker stranded. The game was quite stop, start during the first half with both sides looking to boss the midfield and the referee quick to stop play, resulting in early cards for Osemen Usifoh and Cedric Nganga along with two Phoenix players which on another day may have all gone unpunished. Usifoh was withdrawn on the half hour with another recurrence of his injury and to avoid him walking a tightrope of receiving a red card after another talking to from the official.
Just before half time Owusu in the Fisher goal was well placed to hold a ferociously struck free kick from Ryan Hayes having moments earlier saved well from Phoenix’s best chance when Johnson found space to get shot away from the left of the box. However, the sides went in locked at nil nil and the half time talk from the 124 in attendance was chiefly centred on whether the game went straight to penalties or had extra time.
The opening minutes of the second spell saw Fisher well on top, quicker to the ball and playing with more intent than their visitors. With Michael Sarpong, who had come on for Usifoh, building on his forging relationship with Lewis Duberry in the midfield engine room, Fisher were getting a good supply into their front men and it was no surprise when they took the lead just before the hour. Having won a free kick twenty five yards out, Inesh Sumithran’s effort cannoned off the wall, but Isaac Thompson was alert to the rebound which looped between the wall and keeper and arrived first to hook the ball over the diving Walker and into the net.
Ten minutes later Fisher doubled the lead as Connor Darwish found space down the right from a well worked throw in and his deep cross was recycled by Cedric Nganga who dinked in a chipped cross for Eni Amgbaduba to rise well and nod the ball back across the wrong footed Walker to see it creep inside the post. Three minutes later the tie seemed wrapped up as Nganga was felled to the left of the penalty area and Michael Sarpong swept home a sweetly hit free kick off the far post possibly via the feintest of touches by German Petrov, although Fisher faithful at the Pond End were happy to attribute the goal to Sarpong.
The goal signalled a raft of substitutions with Phoenix making three in one swoop, reverting to a back three in an attempt to salvage something. Fisher in return took off Sumithran after a heavy challenge and rested Thompson and Amgbaduba with Henry Adeniran, Nader Zeddini and Julio Da Mata entering the game.
Phoenix pulled a goal back on 80 minutes with Tom O’Connor firing home following a high ball into the box and suddenly it was a little bit of a back to wall effort from Fisher as Phoenix threw players forward. Midway through the five minutes of added time, Phoenix grabbed a second following heavy pressure on the Fisher goal with Joe Deeney hooking home from close range, but Fisher had enough in the tank to see the game out and now eagerly await the quarter final draw.