Punjab United 0-1 Fisher
Tuesday 25th March 2023
SCEFL Premier Division
Scorer: Isaac Thompson (44 min)
A superb individual goal from Isaac Thompson, coupled with a determined rear guard second half display earned Fisher all three points at Punjab United.
Illness in the camp further reduced Ajay Ashanike’s selection options, with skipper Luke Thomas succumbing to join the long injury list. Eric De Melo Calheiros came in on the wing for his debut and there was a start for Manny Brown in midfield with a place on the bench for returnee Manny Shoderu after his spell at Holmesdale.
A difficult pitch, which was hard underfoot but slippery due to pre match drizzle, seemed to hamper both sides, with players losing their footing regularly and struggling to control the ball. The hosts looked to have mastered the conditions the better with long diagonal balls into the box cutting out the tricky surface, however Joseph Adewunmi was up to the task winning his aerial battles with veteran forward Paul Vines. When Vines did finally cleanly win a header to nod a free kick back across the area on the quarter of an hour mark, an offside flag came to Fisher’s rescue as the ball was bundled into the net by Jamie Watson, at the back post.
At the other end Lewis Duberry saw a dipping volley, from twenty yards out, just bounce wide of the post, with the keeper scrambling to get across to cover it. De Melo Carlheiros also had a good chance to open the scoring, when slipping through two tackles on the left side of the penalty area, but his stabbed shot lacked power and saw the keeper gather easily.
Fisher were defending the slope well, but needed a fine save from Sam Amedu, fully stretching to his left, to palm away a sweetly hit shot from outside the area for a corner. With Punjab showing themselves to be a threat at set pieces in the home fixture a fortnight ago, Fisher had learned their lessons and looked more solid attacking the delivery to clear with ease.
Two minutes before the break the decisive goal came. Isaac Thompson received the ball wide on the left, just inside the Punjab half, and showed his marker a clean pair of heels after pushing the ball past him, cutting inside the covering centre half, he bore down on goal before firing off an inch perfect low drive that flew into the far corner, leaving Anibaba in the Punjab goal powerless to reach it and give Fisher the lead, much to the delight of the 21 travelling fans.
The second spell saw Punjab push hard for an equaliser with Fisher sitting deeper and looking to use the pace of Thompson and De Melo Calheiros on the break. With both full backs, Conor Darwish and Inesh Sumithran battling well to intercept and close their man, Punjab found it hard to get width into their attack, with the through balls mainly aimed down the middle where Adewunmi reigned supreme. However, as the game wore on Fisher became increasingly indebted to Sam Amedu in goal who performed a series of fine saves. First, he palmed away a well struck free kick, before pulling off a breath taking double save with twenty five minutes to go, as he denied Vines from close range and then somehow getting up to throw himself and tip the rebound effort over the bar.
Fisher had chances for a second goal to seal the game. Sarpong took aim from distance after Punjab’s keeper went walkabout, but his effort was just scrambled away by the retreating keeper and Lewis Duberry fired a free kick just over the bar, after De Melo Calheiros was hacked down near the edge of the area.
Another fine save from Amedu after Imoru had conceded a free kick on the edge of the box seemed to be nudging Fisher to the win but has the board went up to show six minutes of added time thoughts went back to last week’s cruel 98th minute equaliser that pegged Fisher back at Erith Town. History almost repeated itself when Vines escaped in the box in the fifth minute of injury time, but his effort flew back off the angle of bar and post and from the resulting scramble several shots were charged down amidst Punjab claims for a penalty when the ball appeared to strike a defender’s shoulder. Sumithran and Thompson were both cautioned for taking too long over taking a throw in as Fisher tried to manage the game in way the failed to seven days ago. Lessons had been learned and a lot of the final few minutes were played out deep in Punjab’s half, although having just been cautioned Thompson’s decision to flick the ball away after it had bounced back to him off an advertising hoarding was unwise and earned him a second yellow card, meaning Fisher needed to play the remaining minute with ten players.
There was to be no last gasp heartache this time though and referee Will Donnelly, who had a good game throughout, whistled to bring the game to an end and to signal a win that takes Fisher into the top half of the table for the first time this season.