AFC Stoneham 2-2 Fisher (Fisher win 5-3 on penalties)
Saturday 22nd October
Izusu FA Vase First Round
Scorers: Michael Sarpong (50 mins), Eni Amgbaduba (90+3 mins)
Penalty Scorers: Katonia, Amgbaduba, J Brown, Sarpong, Connor
Fisher put the heartbreak of two penalty defeats in their last two games firmly behind them to advance to the second round of the FA Vase, after a thrilling win on penalties at AFC Stoneham.
Fisher made the long journey down the M3 to the outskirts of Southampton, with a squad still beset by injuries. Centre back Sam Fitzgerald has become the latest casualty, meaning a place for German Petrov in the heart of the defence, but the return of a just fit Michael Sarpong boosted the squad. There were further woes before kick-off with the inform Jacob Katonia pulling up in the warm-up, emerging for kick-off heavily strapped up by the busy physios.
With the game commencing amidst torrential rain, Fisher quickly got to grips with the slick surface, with Jacob Katonia drawing saves from the home keeper from two good early efforts and the hosts finding space in the Fisher area but not being able to test Justice Owusu before covering defenders blunted the chances. When Bainbridge did get a shot away, Owusu was able to save pushing the ball away for a corner with his fingertips.
Isaac Thompson then had Fisher’s best chance of the half racing in from the right and sending in a blistering drive that was well saved at the near post. A series of corners for Fisher did not lead to any real threat on the Stoneham goal and Fisher were then made to pay for not taking advantage of a lot of their pressure as the host took the lead just before half time. A ball down the channel was kept in by an eager Stoneham runner and shielding the ball well he then turned and crossed to find plenty of Stoneham midfielders bearing down into the area, where Jim Ovis gratefully tucked the ball home.
The second spell saw Fisher quick to respond. Katonia, now free of the strappings, burst into the heart of the Stoneham defence and being bundled over five yards outside the area won Fisher a free kick. Michael Sarpong’s delivery was superb, firing the ball into the far top corner to give the keeper no chance and level the tie.
Fisher had their tails up and Katonia was leading the defenders a merry dance with some powerful runs down the left but having twice got to the by line could not quite find a Fisher player with the pull back. Having looked the more likely to get the next goal Fisher suddenly found themselves behind on the hour mark as Lewis Nagle showed desire to get his foot to the ball first to sweep home a low cross, fired in from the left.
Darnelle Baily-King looked to inspire a second equaliser and jinked through a couple of tackles but couldn’t get a shot away once in the box, before being felled on another foray to give Sarpong another free kick opportunity, this time though from five yards further out, allowing the keeper to save the centrally hit shot. Manny Brown, Eni Amgbaduba and Antony Connor were all sent on to give fresh legs in the final third, but the hosts were defending well and chances became fewer. Katonia’ shot from distance lacked sufficient power and was easily collected and Fisher’s Vase campaign looked to be fizzling out in the rain.
Fisher threw caution to the wind late on looking for an equaliser and exerted some heavy pressure on the Stoneham goal. A series of corners were defended well by the hosts but in arguing over the award of one, the Stoneham centre forward said too much and got it himself sinbinned giving Fisher a numerical advantage for the three minutes of added time.
With added time almost up, Fisher looked to be out and when an offside decision ended a run of corners and Stoneham cleared deep into the Fisher half to win a free kick in the far corner it looked all over. However, with the referee adding further time for the sinbinning fallout, Fisher were able to regain possession and launch the ball forward with Amgbaduba exerting enough pressure to win one final corner. Keeper Owusu was sent up and with the hosts a man down they were unable to stop Eni Amgbaduba rising highest amidst a melee of jumping players to flick Katonia’s superb delivery into the far top corner, to send the fans, players and bench wild with delight and take the tie to penalties.
After the drama of the equaliser, calm heads were needed for the shoot-out. Katonia started it off with a confident kick and Stoneham replied with an equally confident strike. Amgbaduba then calmly slotted before Owusu got a strong hand on Stoneham’s next kick only to agonisingly see the ball squirm under him and in. Jed Brown fired Fisher ahead again before Stoneham’s third kicker gave Owusu no chance with his effort. Sarpong fired a fourth into the roof of the net to again give Fisher a slender advantage, which became a massive advantage when Owusu again dived low to his right and this time his hand was strong enough to push the ball away for a magnificent save. It therefore left youngster Antony Connor to step up and win it, which he duly did, calmly putting the ball into the roof of the net and celebrating with an elegant and immaculately performed double backflip before disappearing under a pile of teammates bodies.
A very noisy coach trip back to London followed as Fisher now await Monday’s second round draw to see where their Vase adventure goes next.
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