Punjab United 1-1 Fisher
Saturday 19th February 2022
SCEFL Premier Division
Scorer: Thompson (34 mins – pen)
Fisher headed down to Gravesend to take on Punjab United, with their hosts ground thankfully having escaped the worst of Storm Eunice, bar some external fence damage and the loss of a few flags. However, a heavy rain shower two hours before kick put the game in late doubt, especially when the referee arrived seemingly intent on postponing the fixture. Fortunately the desire of both managers to see the game played and the efforts of some volunteers in forking the pitch persuaded the official to give the match a chance and with the rain abating and a drying wind the pitch, although heavy, held up well. The wind however made for a challenging afternoon for both sides and whilst the hosts had first use of it along with the slope by half time it had become more variable in direction.
Fisher gave debuts to Darnelle Bailey-King and Manny Shoderu and both gave displays to give heart to the 24 travelling fans with intelligent use of the ball and good understanding of the game clearly evident. Bailey-King on the right of midfield linked well with Luke Thomas and early chances were created with their low crosses that just evaded touches to turn them goal wards. Shoderu also came close to getting on the end of a cross from the other wing as Isaac Thompson sent over a well flighted cross, as Fisher played the better football in the opening twenty minutes.
Punjab finally got into the game and Tommy Taylor was forced to save smartly from a Phillips effort before Fisher had strong claims for penalty denied when Ovenden in the Punjab goal had been forced to handle a back pass that seemed goal bound and from the resulting free kick six yards out Thompson’s fierce effort was blocked leaving a huge ball sized mud in-print on a Punjab sleeve, but the referee presumably deemed it to be accidental, although it stopped a certain goal. However Fisher were soon to be awarded a soft penalty as Da Mata managed to the goal side of Ratcliff and went down with the defenders hands on his back to give the referee little option but to point to the spot. Isaac Thompson stepped up to convert his fifth goal of season and give Fisher a deserved lead.
Punjab looked to level before the break and Taylor was forced to save well at his right hand post to send the Fish into the break with their one goal lead intact.
The second half was scrappier with the heavy pitch seeing the Fisher midfield tire and unable to keep going with the pass and move game they had adopted in the first half – possibly distracted into playing longer by the slope and gusting wind. The wind almost played a huge part in the game’s outcome as Shoderu’s in-swinging corner looked goal bound before Ovenden pulled off a terrific recovery save to claw the ball off the line. Campbell and Imoru were introduced for a tiring Bailey-King and Katonia as Fisher looked to keep searching for the second goal to kill the game, and Da Mata wasted two opportunities when escaping down the right first shooting early and wide and then holding on to the ball too long before trying to slip in the arriving Thompson.
Punjab seemed buoyed by the let offs and going into the final quarter were the side looking the more likely to score with Taylor forced to make a couple of sharp stops low down to deny the hosts. With six minutes left on the clock Fisher’s failure to add to their lead was finally exposed as Johnson Cole’s intelligent run into the left channel of the box saw him fed a well-placed ball and he slipped the ball in at the far post to beat the advancing Taylor.
Fisher threw on Friday’s late signing Nickal-David Luzolo up front to try and secure a winner and Thompson’s run down the left created a glorious opening, but he fired wide. Both sides searched for a late goal, Taylor being well placed to hold a Punjab header and Shoderu’s late corner was punched clear under pressure by Ovenden in what turned out to be the last chance of the game and leaving the points shared.
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