Sutton Athletic 2-1 Fisher
(Fisher win 4-3 on aggregate)
Tuesday 28 March 2023
SCEFL Challenge Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg
A nervy night in Hextable saw Fisher battle through to the SCEFL Challenge Cup Final, with Andres Tobon’s second half goal, in a 2-1 defeat, being enough to see the Fish win 4-3 on aggregate.
Fisher welcomed back Luke Thomas, Darnelle Bailey-King and Conor Darwish to the starting line-up, with places on the bench for Jacob Katonia and Eni Amgbaduba, as they returned from injury. With influential midfielder Lewis Duberry still away on international duty for Montserrat, Manny Brown continued to deputise in midfield.
The sides were faced with a heavy pitch after persistent rain all day had put the game in some doubt, but the referee was happy on arrival for the game to go ahead, as the rain finally stopped just before kick-off. A cagey opening to the game saw little in the way of chances, as Fisher defended the slope with a high line, although the pace of Sutton’s wingers always looked a threat. Michael Sarpong picked up a very early booking for a fairly innocuous looking challenge on halfway inside the opening minutes.
Having followed the pre match instructions of ensuring they didn’t concede early with a solid first quarter of an hour, Fisher suddenly seemed to take their foot of the gas and on seventeen minutes needed Sam Amedu to be at his best to turn Neil Spencer’s rasping effort around the post, after the winger had cut in from the right. Amedu’s work was in vain though, as from the resulting corner a deep in-swinging delivery made its way through to Michael Fenn unmarked at the back post to turn it home from close range and give Sutton a route back into the tie.
Just three minutes later they had doubled their lead and brought the tie level on aggregate as some quick passing in midfield allowed a neat through ball to send Conor Evans clear and taking it around the advancing Amedu he calmly rolled the ball into the empty net.
Having been pegged back Fisher needed a response and Andre Tobon almost restored the aggregate lead when shooting just wide from eighteen yards out. Fisher were looking disjointed in attack though and the large Sutton pitch was stopping the midfield from joining in effectively going forward. It was Sutton who looked the more likely to add to the score going into the break and when Darnelle Bailey-King was adjudged to have brought down Evans just outside the area, a free kick fizzed just outside the left hand upright with Amedu looking beaten.
The half time whistle came as a relief to Fisher and they returned to the changing room to face a pretty torrid talking too. Whatever was said worked as a different side emerged for the second half, full of fighting spirit and playing the game higher up the pitch. Inesh Sumithran was introduced at right back allowing Bailey-King to provide greater threat on the wing.
On 52 minutes Fisher pulled a goal back to retake the lead on aggregate. Good work by Isaac Thompson on halfway saw him slip out of two tackles and then push a through ball out to Andres Tobon. Tobon danced into the area before pushing the ball wide to his left to round the final defender and keeper and despite a posse of covering defenders, kept his cool to fire low into the net.
With the heavy pitch taking its toll on both sides, the build-up play became a little slower and both sets of forwards started shooting earlier from distance. Amedu was well placed to catch all the Sutton efforts, and in return the Fisher efforts flew high and wide.
As the game moved into the final stages Fisher’s back line stood resolute with Luke Thomas and Joseph Adewunmi handling Sutton’s thirty goal striker Arlie Desanges in a very accomplished manner, with the prolific forward denied any clear sights of goal. Eni Amgbaduba and Jacob Katonia were brought off the bench to replace Tobin and With as Fisher continued to try and play on the front foot and resist the temptation to sit deep and protect the lead.
With seven minutes of stoppage time put up on the board, Fisher manged to get the ball up field and see a lot of the added time out on the attack, with the experience of Bailey-King on the right giving them a constant outlet and the industry of Michael Sarpong, who despite playing for 88 minutes on a yellow card, did not shirk a challenge in a faultless display in midfield.
Fisher had a strong claim for a late penalty waved away as Bailey-King seemed to be floored after beating the keeper to a ball out wide of the penalty area. The pacy winger repeated the trick as the game moved into the eight added minute robbing the keeper of possession well outside the area but tired legs saw his chipped effort over the covering defender pass well wide of the post. It wasn’t to matter however as the referee’s whistle brought the tie to an end with Fisher just edging the closely fought two legged contest 4-3 on aggregate, to take their place in the Challenge Cup final against Holland and Blair on May 1st.
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