Fisher 3-0 Rusthall
Saturday 21 January 2023
SCEFL Premier Division
Scorers: Michael Sarpong (22 mins), Jacob Katonia ( 75 mins and 90 mins)
Photo credit: Dave Anderson
With another scintillating performance, an in-form Fisher side made a nonsense of the league table in beating second placed Rusthall 3-0, at a chilly St Pauls. The win moves the improving Fish up to eleventh in the table after being adrift at the bottom of the table just two months ago.
Manager Ajay Ashanike had the rare luxury of a near full strength squad to choose from, with Sam Amedu returning in goal and Malaki Coker coming in a right back, allowing skipper Luke Thomas to remain in the centre back position where he has excelled in recent games. Eni Amgbaduba got the nod to lead the line in front of Luke With.
The direction of the game had an early indicator, as Fisher went straight on the attack and saw Cedric Nganga upended just outside the Rusthall area with just ninety seconds on the clock. Michael Sarpong’s quick free kick almost gave Fisher an early lead, but former Fish Tommy Taylor was alert in the Rusthall goal to smoother the ball low at the far post.
At the other end another former Fish, Louie Clark always looked a danger, running off the final defender and only an offside flag stopped him from giving the visitors the lead as he scampered onto to a through ball and lifted it over the advancing Amedu.
Midway through the half the opening goal did come, Cedric Nganga, at his sublime, wizardry best, conjured up some trickery to make space on the left from Conor Darwish’s clip forward and passed inside to Michael Sarpong, who twenty yards out switched the ball from his right foot to his left and swept a low drive into the far corner giving the fully stretched Taylor little chance.
Taylor was then forced into a good block to stop Fisher adding a second, as Amgbaduba burst through with Billy Brown’s effort on the rebound blocked by a retreating defender. With Nganga in mesmerising form on the left, Fisher were creating plenty of chances, as twice the winger danced along the by line before sending over teasing crosses that Rusthall scrambled to clear.
Rusthall came out with more purpose in the second spell, but it was Fisher who created the first chance as Amgbaduba rose to beat Taylor to a cross but his goal bound header was cleared off the line by a defender.
Ten minutes into the half Rusthall had a great chance to get on level terms. Clark again ran off his marker to meet a chipped through ball, getting there just before Amedu and was brought down by the keeper. The unsighted referee waved play-on, but the assistant referee had been well placed to notice the foul and after a discussion the penalty was awarded with few complaints from the Fisher defence. Clarke went low to Amedu’s left with the kick, but the big keeper got down well to block and eagerly get up to smoother the rebound.
The close call saw the introduction of Jacob Katonia from the bench for a tiring Billy Brown, who had again run himself to standstill in hardworking display leading the attacking press. The switch paid dividends as both Amgbaduba and Katonia went close with powerful shots as Fisher again got on the front foot, before on 75 minutes they doubled their advantage. Some good counter attacking set Katonia free down the left channel and in trademark style he carried the ball to within shooting range before cutting inside his marker and firing low into the far corner with a slight deflection just taking the ball past Taylor’s grasp.
Fisher were able to see the game out with little drama from this point and virtually on full time they added a deserved third goal, after a throw on the right reached Katonia inside the area and his snapshot caught Taylor by surprise and bounced off the unfortunate keeper and into the net.
The final whistle came shortly after to signal a third league win in succession for the Fish, who are currently playing with real attacking intent, with goals coming from all across the front line. However, the unsung work of Luke Thomas at the back, the emergence of talented eighteen year old Conor Darwish at left back and the industry and ball retention of Montserrat international Lewis Duberry in midfield are also contributory factors to the upturn in league form for Ashanike’s talented young team.
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