Fisher welcomed near neighbours Erith & Belvedere to St Paul’s for the first match of 2018, looking to continue the club’s tremendous record of eight straight wins. Dean Harrison was able to name another strong looking side – Luke Haidarovic missed out with a bout of tonsillitis, but the gaffer welcomed back Rob Brown and Harry Draper to bolster the midfield.
As has become customary over the last few months, Fisher started the game very much on the front foot. It took only a few minutes to create the first chance: the ball was played into the feet of Toyeeb Babatunde on the edge of the box, he took a touch and was then shoved in the back. Fisher’s set-piece king, Richie Hamill, stood over the free kick then hit a rasping low drive just centimetres past the left hand post with the keeper motionless.
After 8 minutes, Erith & Belvedere ventured forward for the first time and a snapshot from outside the box drifted harmlessly wide. Two minutes later, a beautiful volleyed cross from Hamill on the left was controlled by Mathieu Ramsamy inside the box. He played a one two with Harry Draper, sporting the captain’s armband on his return to action, but a defender got in to clear before Ramsamy could shoot.
Fisher were dominating possession, but finding the Erith & Belvedere rearguard hard to break down. The next real chance came on 20 minutes, a cross from deep on the left by Ash Wright being nodded out of the box then met on the volley by Toyo Adeshina, but his effort cleared the bar. Three minutes later, a defensive mix-up saw an Erith & Belvedere defender head the ball out of his keeper’s hands for a Fisher corner. The cross from the corner went right across the face of goal, evading everyone, and was then worked back out to Rob Brown whose shot from range went wide.
Despite Fisher’s dominance, the best chance of the half fell to Erith & Belvedere on 26 minutes. A cross from the byline inside the box found a man at the back post, who turned and crashed the ball off the bar from close range. A lucky escape for Fisher.
Fisher regained the initiative, but were limited to half chances for the remainder of the half. On 35 minutes, a great tackle by Rob Brown inside his own half allowed the tenacious midfielder to advance up the pitch and attempt a through ball to Trey Small, but the keeper rushed out and narrowly beat the winger to the ball. Two minutes later, good play by Ramsamy on the right wing saw him win the ball back then feed Babatunde in the box, but the big hitman couldn’t get his shot away.
There was just time for two more Fisher chances before the break. A searching long pass from Hamill found Trey Small, who cut inside his man and bore down on goal, only for the last man to intercept. Then a free kick a minute before the break, awarded after another foul on Babatunde, led to an almighty scramble inside the box. The ball eventually broke to Dan Flemming, up from the back, but he just couldn’t get enough power on it to divert it into the back of the net.
Half time: Fisher FC 0-0 Erith & Belvedere. An entertaining and lively encounter, with Erith & Belvedere presenting more of a challenge than Fisher had faced for a number of weeks in the league. Fisher had certainly dominated the possession, albeit without being able to find the breakthrough, but the clearest cut chance had come the way of the visitors. Fisher would need to up a gear in the second half to make sure of the points.
After only two minutes of the second half, the visitors forced their first corner. The cross was cleared at the near post by Toyo Adeshina and came to the Erith & Belvedere number 2 outside the box, but his shot dribbled wide. Fisher went straight up the pitch and Trey Small forced a corner, but it was hoofed clear at the near post.
On 50 minutes, Fisher so nearly found the opening. Toyeeb Babatunde picked up outside the box on the left wing, delicately nutmegged his man and then cut the ball back. Rob Brown was rushing into the box and hit it first time, but the keeper got down to block, and Ramsamy could only turn the rebound across the face of goal.
Five minutes later, a sumptuous ball by Richie Hamill with the outside of his left foot released Ramsamy who advanced on goal, but his shot was blocked by a defender’s lunging dive. Just a minute after that, Ramsamy found himself in on goal again. He drew the keeper, but the keeper made a great block and the ball ran behind for a Fisher corner. The corner was very nearly turned into his own net by the Erith & Belvedere defender at the near post, but fortunately for him his slice went behind for a second corner, which came to nothing.
On 59 minutes, Ramsamy twisted and turned in his own inimitable style, bamboozling the visiting defence, but again the keeper defied him with a great save to turn the ball round the post. From the corner, Babatunde’s header drifted wide. Two minutes later, Erith & Belvedere had their best chance of the half, a shot from the left of goal inside the box beating Nic Taylor but also beating the post. For a moment, those in the Dockers’ End feared the worst as the net seemed to billow, but the ball had come off the fence behind the goal and into the back of the netting.
Fisher immediately went up the pitch, and this time the opposition keeper was finally beaten. A stunning, curling short from the edge of the box by – who else – Mathieu Ramsamy hit the underside of the bar, bounced down on the line, back up and off the inside of the bar and into the net. A great strike, celebrated with gusto by the Dockers’ End! 1-0, Ramsamy, 62 mins
Dean Harrison immediately rang the changes, replacing Babatunde with new signing Lee Friend, who made his home debut, and pulling off goalscorer Ramsamy, suffering from a cold, for Jamie Brown. On 70 minutes, Harrison was forced into another change. Toyo Adeshina went down with an injury and required treatment, but after a few minutes it was clear he could not continue. Nathan Hunter replaced him.
Lee Friend did not take long to make an impact. He held up a ball into the channel then linked well with Hamill, who shot just wide of the right hand post. Jamie Brown then challenged well for a high ball, pulling the ball down and playing Friend in on goal, but the striker’s shot was – once again – blocked by Erith & Belvedere’s keeper. On 76 minutes, Trey Small shot from inside the box, but his shot was blocked behind for a corner, which was cleared.
Just a minute later, Fisher’s on-form winger did manage to double the home side’s lead. Hamill gathered in midfield, held off a challenge then played the ball to Small on the left wing. Small had his back to goal and a defender right behind him. With a lovely flick, Small turned the ball round his man and took him out of the game – one Fisher fan was heard to make a comparison with Dennis Bergkamp in his pomp! – then bore in on goal. He drew the keeper, then finished across him and in off the far post. A great goal captured by Fisher’s resident videographer, big John! See it here: https://twitter.com/John84Green/status/949694053842608128 2-0, Small, 77 mins
With ten minutes remaining, Nic Taylor earned his clean sheet. Having had very little to do all game, he was alert enough to pull off a stunning save from a close range shot, then a combination of Taylor and a lunging defender blocked the follow up. Fisher then created a number of chances to finish the game off. A Hamill free kick on 83 minutes was met on the full by Dwayne Agyemang, but his flick went just wide. Another free kick on 87 minutes was met by Friend on the edge of the box, but his lob on the turn drifted just over.
In between those chances, the ref stopped play for some unknown reason, spoke to his linesman, then spoke to Neil Hunter on the Fisher bench, then resumed play with an uncontested dropball inside the Fisher box. Nic Taylor played keepy uppies with the ball before launching it upfield – a bizarre interlude! The final chance for Fisher came in the last of three added minutes – a lung-bursting run by Lee Friend down the left wing from just inside the Erith & Belvedere half ended with his shot stinging the keeper’s palms and going behind for a corner. There was no time to take the corner, as the ref called an end to proceedings.
Full time: if Dean, Neil and Richard were looking for more from their players at half time, they certainly got it. A dynamic, aggressive attacking performance in the second half was simply too much for the visitors to live with. Fisher had to work harder for the win than they have in recent weeks, but they thoroughly deserved their ninth straight league win!
Man of the match: a tricky one this week. Honourable mentions to the Erith & Belvedere goalkeeper who kept the scoreline respectable in the second half particularly, and to Mathieu “Damo” Ramsamy who – despite suffering from a cold – continued his astonishing record of scoring in every match he has started for Fisher: that’s now 11 goals in 9 matches! However, it was such a strong team performance that the award goes to every one of the 14 players who set foot on the pitch in the black and white. Fisher were solid at the back, dominated possession throughout in the midfield and had too much for the visitors to handle up front. Well done to all!
Fisher 2-0 Erith & Belvedere
Saturday 6 January 2018
SCEFL First Division
Mathieu Ramsamy 62
Trey Small 77
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