Fisher FC 0 – 2 Otford United
Jason Matthews ’33, Dominic Ryan ’76
On a baking hot afternoon in Rotherhithe the best summary of the day’s action was disjointed. Kick off was delayed to allow the visitor’s substitutes to arrive, the referee quite rightly built a drinks break into each half, and as pre-season often dictates there were a host of changes at half-time. As Gary Abbott took his first, and last, chance to look at the 28 players at his disposal before the SCEFL season kicks off next weekend it is fair to say that the home side never really got going.
Lining up with a back three, the first half Fisher defence looked to have a solid understanding, with Daniel Fleming, Veejay Millar and skipper Rob Curtis working well together at points in front of Ricky Wadman who put in another solid display between the posts. Ahead of them Taylor, Roche, Wilson and new First Team Coach Isa Hussain showed flashes of creativity, but lacked a killer ball through to the lively Scott Watson. With space open down the flanks on the wide St Paul’s pitch the Fish never really took full advantage of the channels, and were ultimately hit on the break a number of times by a well drilled Otford side. The home side saw a penalty shout turned down midway through the first period following one such break down the right flank.
Otford were awarded a penalty on one such occasion in the 33rd minute, an incident which saw Curtis come in for a stern talking to from the referee. Jason Matthews converted from the spot for Otford. Fisher did have chances from set plays, winning a number of corners, which will clearly be an area Abbo wants to work on over the coming weeks in training. Not content to sit back on their lead the visitors piled forward, and were controversially denied a second before the break due to the offside flag.
The second half saw so many changes for Fisher that the team came back out in the orange away kit, with a few familiar faces in alongside pre-season football’s best travelled name ‘A Trialist.’ Once again there were some points of inspiration, with Max Rothwell putting in a good shift in the middle of the park, but the Fish continued to look disjointed. As in the first half, the best chances for the hosts came from corners, but former Fish Justin Lee looked comfortable all afternoon in goal for Otford. Otford took advantage of this lack of cohesion on the break again, with Dominic Ryan looping a curling effort over Wadman to make it 2-0.
Not the perfect start for Gary Abbott at St Paul’s, but this game was always about Abbo getting to see the players and build understanding for next Saturday’s game against Rochester United.
Attendance – 94
As we have seen all summer, a week can be a long time in non-league football – and this week has seen changes again for the Fish. Hot on the heels of last weekend’s celebration both on and off the field as we played out our first game at St Paul’s in style with a 4-0 win against Farnborough OBG, this week saw confirmation of Gary Abbott’s return to the dugout as he embarks on his second stint as Fisher boss – starting with Saturday’s friendly against Kent County League Division One side Otford United.
Otford United have seen a change in management too over the summer, with Ricky Tompkinson taking the helm at the Otford Recreation Ground, assisted by former Lordswood and Sevenacres assistant Steve Arnold. Otford finished 4th last season, 9 points back from last weekend’s opponents Farnborough OBG. The O’s have had a mixed pre-season, with wins against Sevenacre, Sporting Club Thamesmead and Guru Nanak being balanced with defeats to Nomads, Rusthall and Crockenhill.
Whilst not making up for the frustration of missing out on FA Cup football this weekend, Otford will provide a well drilled opposition and a chance for Gary to get to know the Fisher squad better ahead of the SCEFL kick off on Saturday 13 August at home to Rochester United.