|Monday 16 August 2004||Southern League
Division One East
|Peter Pitts reports from Champion Hill|
|Fisher Athletic||2||Piper 69, Barr 70|
Fisher's big signings produce the goods
Two of the fancied teams in the Southern League Division One East met at Champion Hill, Fisher's temporary home for two seasons whilst the Surrey Docks Stadium is being revamped.
This was Fisher's first competitive game at Champion Hill and they will be well pleased with the outcome as they stormed the first half but the second half was more even despite the fact that they scored their two goals then.
Fisher had no fewer than eight players in their team who have played in the league or conference in the last two years, and after their display in this game and their 5-2 opening victory at Maldon they must be favourites to secure the title.
They have signed a host of talent in the close season including England semi pro international Anthony Rivera, Hamid Barr who is well known to Brickies fans from his Tonbridge days, Mark Warren from Southend United, Steve McNamara from Brentford, and Danny Steele from Colchester United.
They have also signed ex Dagenham & Redbridge's Leon Braithwaite but he was unavailable for this game.
The first half was very much a backs to the wall affair for the Brickies but their superb defence, which put everything in the way of Fisher shots, repelled everything that "the Fish" threw at them, and that was plenty.
After just a minute Lenny Piper forced a good save from Kevin Fewell and on 12 minutes a Steve Watts header was cleared off the line by Paul Manning, seconds later another Watts header was also cleared off the line, this time by the tireless Tom Berry who had a storming match, as did all of the Brickies defence.
Sittingbourne were being restricted to breakaways but the moves invariably broke down and Fisher came back onto the attack.
There was a brief respite on 35 minutes as David Cory, who didn't stop running all evening, had a
header go just wide.
Unlike Sittingbourne Fisher weren't afraid to shoot from all ranges and a 30 yard screamer from McNamara was palmed round a post by Fewell, then Barr had a thundering shot which slammed into Tom Berry.
At the other end Berry had a shot go narrowly wide but Fisher's Rivera then had two efforts whistle across the Brickies goal.
Phew!!! An all action half in which the Brickies defence were just phenomenal!
Fisher began the second half as they had finished the first, on the attack and Fewell had to palm over a cross.
But then the Brickies came right into the game and hard running by Cory won a corner. Adam Douglas took the kick which found Clint Gooding but his shot sailed over the bar.
Sittingbourne were now playing some neat football and so it was perhaps against the run of play at this time when on 69 minutes Lenny Piper raced round three defenders, cut inside, and crashed the ball past Fewell to put Fisher in the lead.
This goal took the wind out of the Brickies sails and they lost concentration for an instant, the ball was flicked onto Barr and his first time shot beat Fewell and so in the space of two minutes the Brickies were two goals down.
Sittingbourne, however, quickly came back into the match when Shane Campbell found David Cory who strode on and tucked the ball under Jerome John in the Fisher goal to pull a goal back.
The game was now very even and after a period of Brickies pressure a Gooding cross found Shane Campbell but the shot was easily held by John.
At the other end Fisher almost went one better as Leroy Huggins' first time shot crashed against the Brickies post.
This signalled another period of Fisher pressure and Smith fired wide.
Sittingbourne then pushed for the equaliser and in the last minute of injury time substitute James Campbell headed wide, however, Fisher probably deserved the victory for all the pressure and the Brickies can now breathe a sigh of relief that what should be their most difficult match in the division is now behind them.
Sittingbourne now travel to Harlow Town on Saturday where they hope to get back into winning ways.
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