Fisher welcomed Hollands & Blair to St Paul’s on Saturday, eager for revenge after going down to a narrow 1-0 defeat on the opening day fixture between the two sides. Pat Geddis replaced the injured Luke Haidarovic in a holding midfield role, Trey Small came back into the starting line-up for Chandler Kasai who dropped to the bench, and Richie Hamill moved into left back in place of Toyo Adeshina, also named on the subs bench, with Rob Brown slotting into the midfield. There was also a first sighting of new striker Kushal Campbell-Palmer, formerly of Hollands & Blair, who made the bench.
The game got off to a lively start, Rob Brown curling a shot into the keeper’s arms from just outside the box in the first minute, and Harvey Brinkley doing well to block a shot inside the box from Hollands & Blair just a minute later. The ever hard-working Tunde Aderonmu pulled off some great work down the right hand channel, fashioning another shooting opportunity for Rob Brown on 4 minutes, but he dragged his shot past the left hand post.
If league positions before the match suggested that Fisher should be favorites, the home side certainly wasn’t having it all its own way. A fantastic tackle from Pat Geddis denied a certain goal-scoring opportunity for the visitors on 11 minutes, before Hollands & Blair spurned an excellent chance two minutes later, a free kick into the box being nodded across goal and sitting up invitingly for the man at the back post, but he could only connect with fresh air.
Fisher were starting to come into the ascendancy but were finding it hard to break down a well-organized, strong and hard-working opposition. Trey Small was coming more into the game, and after good link-up play with Aderonmu, his cross was blocked behind for a corner on 19 minutes. A few minutes later, Ramsamy’s cross from the left touchline was nodded only as far as Small, but his thumping half volley was blocked by a lunging defender.
On the half hour mark, Hollands & Blair appealed in vain for a penalty, a corner from the left being cleared, then returned into the box and cleared a second time by Fisher. The away team saw a handball before the second clearance, but the referee didn’t and play continued. Just a minute later, Fisher really should have gone ahead. Ramsamy’s low cross to the front post was met by Mott, but he could only turn the ball into the keeper’s hands from close range. Trey Small then came close, an angled shot across goal just scraping the left hand post on its way behind.
While Fisher were now on top in terms of possession, they struggled to create many more chances before the break. Ramsamy couldn’t quite connect with a lovely fizzing cross from Brinkley to the back post, before a number of Fisher corners came to nothing. For their part, Hollands & Blair saw a free kick from the right touchline headed over by their number 4, then a header from a corner went well wide in the last action of the half.
Half time: Fisher FC 0-0 Hollands & Blair. The scoreline was a fair one at half time, with Fisher struggling to break down the stubborn opposition rearguard. Fisher had had the best of the few real chances in the half, but would need to keep persevering in the second half if they were to grind down Hollands & Blair.
The second half started as the first half had, the two sides trading half chances. An excellent saving tackle from Mudiagha Wanogho inside the Fisher box denied Hollands & Blair a shot at goal from close range on 50 minutes, a cross flashed across the face of goal by Richie Hamill found no takers for Fisher on 55 minutes, then Hamill popped up in a defensive role three minutes later, doing just enough to put off the Hollands & Blair number 7 who had burst into the box but could only shoot wide under Hamill’s attention. He will feel he ought to have scored, or at the very least worked Dan Wheeler in the Fisher goal.
On 63 minutes, a tricky run from the Hollands & Blair number 10 ended in a weak shot which Wheeler held with ease. Dean Harrison decided to make his first change shortly after, Rob Brown coming off and winger Chandler Kasai replacing him. The game then saw its one piece of controversy, Hollands & Blair being reduced to ten men after the number 6 received a second yellow for tangling with Tunde Aderonmu on the right touchline. The Fisher number 9 looked to have got beyond his man before being brought down, but the opposition were very unhappy with the yellow card and the resulting red.
From the free kick, Fisher passed up their best chance of the second half. Hamill’s free kick to the near post was flicked on by Small to the back post, where Pat Geddis was waiting unmarked. He headed down from only a few yards out, but somehow the keeper stopped it on the line. Fisher could sense blood now, and pressed hard for the one goal which would surely be enough to settle the encounter. With 20 minutes of regulation time remaining, Aderonmu shaped up for a shot on the edge of the box, but was caught as he pulled the trigger. Hamill’s free kick was blocked by the wall.
Fisher didn’t have long to wait to make the breakthrough, however. A firm header into the box from the right touchline by Brinkley saw the Hollands & Blair keeper shout for it loudly and come out of his goal, but his centre back must have been the only person not to hear the shout as he rose to nod the ball back to where he thought his keeper was waiting in his goal. The ball looked to be rolling into the unguarded net, but Mathieu Ramsamy ran in to smash the ball into the net from a yard out and make sure! 1-0, Mathieu Ramsamy, 74 mins
Hollands & Blair continued to battle gamely, never giving up, but never really looking like getting back into the match with the one man disadvantage. On 80 minutes, Campbell-Palmer replaced Aderonmu for his Fisher debut. Trey Small was still busy down the Fisher right, robbing his man on the byline but seeing his low cut-back intercepted on 83 minutes, then two minutes later showing great strength to muscle two men off the ball and drive into the box, but again his low cross was cut out.
Fisher made their final sub on 87 minutes, Ramsamy being replaced by Soyemi-Olade. A minute later, Kasai won a corner on the left byline which Fisher took short, allowing Mott to advance into the box but his driven cross was held by the keeper at the second attempt. A speculative shot from long range went well wide in Hollands & Blair’s only real sight of the Fisher goal since the sending off, and there was just time for one more chance for Fisher, Campbell-Palmer sliding Kasai through on goal but he rather scuffed his shot into the side-netting.
Full time: Fisher FC 1-0 Hollands & Blair. A very welcome three points for Fisher which returned the home side to the giddy heights of 2nd place in the league. The Fish had to grind this one out in the face of stubborn opposition, but did enough to deserve the three points in the end.
Man of the match: Trey Small worked ever so hard on his return to the starting line-up. His physicality continues to improve, and his pace and trickery are always a threat to opposition defences. However, the award goes to Mathieu Ramsamy, who was an equal threat on the other flank for Fisher, and managed to find the vital breakthrough to seal the three points.
Fisher 1-0 Hollands & Blair
Saturday 3 November 2018
SCEFL Premier Division
Matthieu Ramsamy 74
Photo courtesy of the Non-League Chronicles, check their facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/thenonleaguechronicles/
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