Fisher 1-2 Punjab United
Saturday 18 February 2023
SCEFL Premier Division
Scorer: Cedric Nganga (40 mins)
Fisher’s recent push for a top half finish was derailed by an odd goal in three defeat to an organised Punjab United side. With Millwall kicking off in an early lunchtime game, a decent crowd of over two hundred assembled at St Paul’s, but saw on off key performance from the Fish, missing the industry and pace of both Billy Brown and Jacob Katonia who succumbed to knocks received last week. Luke With returned to the starting line up as Fisher played a traditional four, four, two formation, but this never really caused the visitors much threat, with With and Eni Amgbaduba both needing a quicker runner playing off them for it to be effective.
Fisher had an early warning that Punjab would be a difficult opponent when following some head tennis in the area, the veteran Paul Vines nodded the ball back across the box for Jayden Hussein to head home, only to be denied his celebration by a offside flag.
Midway through the half the visitors did legitimately take the lead. A chipped ball forward saw Hussein beat Adewunmi on the turn and as he set himself to shoot Adewunmi clipped the heel of the forward in an attempt to nick the ball the away, giving away a stonewall penalty. Vines confidently whipped the ball high, past Sam Amadu with a powerful effort from the spot.
Fisher looked to get back into the game and Cedric Nganga looked the most likely provider. In one majestic move he slipped inside and out of several Punjab defenders as he cut in off the left, but his pull back for With was cleared by a defender for a corner. Fisher went closer when a good run by Lewis Duberry saw him upended and Michael Sarpong’s low free kick just missed the near post.
Five minutes before the break Fisher were level as a deep cross evaded everyone, but good work by Lewis Duberry and Joseph Adewunmi kept the ball in play and created space for Duberry to send over a tantalising centre which Nganga rose to head powerfully, low to the near post. The keeper scrambled to keep the ball out, but the linesman signalled it had clearly crossed the line leaving the Frenchman to claim the goal although Amgbaduba was on the spot to fire/ home the rebound the remove any doubt.
With Fisher level without having played anywhere near their best there was hope the second spell would see them take control of the game by upping their performance. However after a cagey opening spell with neither side fully threatening, Fisher were temporarily reduced to ten men as skipper Luke With let his frustrations at the some soft free kicks boil over and his comment of “there’s two sides out here” was deemed dissent and he was sin-binned. This put Fisher on the back foot and they had to absorb a lot of pressure during the spell he was off.
A weakness of the sin bin rule is that where a side manages to avoid conceding during the ten minute punishment, they then receive a refreshed eager player back on the field and this proved to be the case when Thomas returned leading to Fisher’s best spell of the half. Luke With headed over a fine cross from substitute Andres Tobon as Fisher went looking for a winner. They went even closer minutes later when Tobon was slipped in by Isaac Thompson’s through ball and laid the ball off to Nganga who spotted the keeper had advanced to meet Tobon but not got back and dinked an extravagant chip that beat the keeper but agonisingly dropped inches wide of the post.
That was as close as Fisher went to a winner, and it was Punjab who finished the game the stronger and with eight minutes left to play they found the decisive goal themselves as Lea Dawson escaped any defensive pressure from a corner to head the ball home. There was little in the way of a late rally from the Fish as Punjab saw the game out with ease to take the points.