Fisher 2-0 Corinthian - We knew we had to win today. There was no way they were going to come here and half celebrating winning the league, says Fisher boss Dean Harrison
Fisher 2 – 0 Corinthian
|Location||St Paul's Stadium, Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London SE16 6NT|
FISHER 2-0 CORINTHIAN
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Easter Monday 22 April 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from St Paul’s Stadium
CORINTHIAN manager Michael Golding insists he hasn’t thrown the towel in after his side cracked under pressure as this exciting Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title race goes to the last game.
Leaders Corinthian suffered with nerves during their 2-0 defeat at third-placed Fisher, who claimed a deserved win through goals from central midfielder Andrew Mott and a last-gasp counter-attack from striker Mathieu Ramsamy during the second half in front of 261 fans at a sun-kissed St Paul’s Stadium.
Fisher's midfielder Andrew Mott (number eight) capped an impressive performance by scoring as Dean Harrison's men dented Corinthian's title bid.
Photo: Alan Coomes
Cray Valley rose to the summit for the first time this season after thrashing basement side Croydon 5-0 at home and travel to play Canterbury City – the side they beat 2-1 on aggregate to reach The Buildbase FA Vase Final at Wembley Stadium, a point clear of Corinthian, who host Bearsted next Saturday.
This was Fisher’s only win over Corinthian at the sixth attempt this season and Fisher manager Dean Harrison, who made four changes to his side that came away from K Sports with a 1-1 draw at the weekend, was delighted.
“It was a very, very pleasing performance after our last two games where we’ve really not been at it, looking a little bit tired mentally and physically. We got back to where we should be today.
“We’ve played them five times (before today) and we’ve won none. We’ve lost one in extra-time and the other two we’ve lost to single goals, a couple of questionably refereeing moments in those games and we knew we had to win today. There was no way they were going to come here and half celebrating winning the league! They have got to fight for it now!”
Reflecting on Corinthian’s sixth-league defeat of the season, Golding admitted: “We didn’t really turn up to be honest. I’m bitterly disappointed. The best team won on the day, the better side won I should say. Two games in three days, we didn’t make too many changes, just frustrated, very disappointed.”
When asked whether this defeat ends their title dream, Golding insists: “Absolutely not! We go again next week. We’ve got another game. If you said to us at the start of the season if we beat Bearsted at home to win the league - or if you had a chance of winning the league if we beat Bearsted at home, we would’ve bitten your hand off!
“Nobody expected us to be in this situation, second, going into the last game of the season. It’s not the end of the dream!
“It’s very frustrating and it’s no longer in our hands but we’re going into the last game of the season one of two teams that could win the league so we’ll give it our best shot.
“It will be tough this week to pick the boys up but it’s not the end by any stretch. It’s massively in Cray’s hands but we’ll do our part and I’m sure the boys will bounce back.”
A frenetic start to the game, Corinthian created an opening after only 131 seconds when centre-half Jack Bath hit a volley over the top of Daniel Flemming for big target-man Emmanuel Oloyede, who poked his shot across the keeper, who picked up the bouncing ball.
Fisher created an opening shortly afterwards when centre-half Harry Tobin smashed a volley over the top to release winger Chandler Kasai down the left channel. He played the ball inside to Ramsamy, who teed up Jake Rose, whose left-footed volley from inside the D looped up and dropped into Aiden Prall’s gloves.
“I think (nerves) showed in the first 20 minutes. We gave them the benefit of the doubt for the first 20-25 minutes. We only made one change from Saturday. I think there were nerves out there, maybe the decision making was a little bit off today and the final ball eluded us,” added Golding.
Oloyede shrugged past Fisher’s right-back Brinkley and used his right-boot to curl his shot sailing around the top of the far post from 30-yards inside the seventh minute.
Golding said: “I thought he started brightly. It was a frustrating day for the whole front three, the whole side, particularly the front three were living off scraps. I thought he caused them problems. They had arms all over him at every opportunity and the ref let quite a lot go.”
Harrison said: “Oloyede is a good player. I spoke about him at half-time and when we had a little break about not getting too tight to him. He backs in well and he turns well. He’s a strong lad and he was a threat all day.”
Fisher went close to breaking the stalemate in the 20th minute when left-back Ritchie Hamill floated in a free-kick from the left and Pat Geddis out-jumped Corinthian’s left-back Alexander Jack Billings to plant his header over the crossbar from four-yards out.
“He was unlucky, he got up well. The boy done enough to just stop him getting over it but he was unlucky. It was a good delivery and a good header,” added the Fisher manager.
Golding added: “Everyone knows what Fisher are all about, they play for free-kicks and Ritchie has got a great free-kick and we’ve got to stand up and be counted. It was probably two or three opportunities that they had from set-pieces today.”
Both sides were not giving anything away during the first half and it turned to be a midfield scrap and stalemate.
The next chance fell to Corinthian in the 40th minute when Jamie Billings floated in a corner from the right which was met by Bath’s free-header from sixteen-yards, which flew straight into the hands of goalkeeper Daniel Wheeler.
Golding said: “Again, it was a half-chance there. He got underneath it. I thought our set-pieces were poor in the first half. We’re very, very good from set-pieces in an attacking sense but today they were poor decisions and shooting at the wrong times from set-pieces when we were probably looking to cross it but listen it’s fallen into an area and we’ve asked a question.”
Fisher produced a slick one-touch passing move down the right which included Rose and Mott linking up well. Mott then played in a low cross, which was met first time by Jamie Brown at the near post but he failed to keep his shot down from four-yards out.
Harrison said: “It was a lovely move. We knew today if we could move the ball around the edge of the box we can pop their back four and that was one example of it and he was unlucky Brownie, he couldn’t get over it.”
Corinthian produced a similar move of their own down the left channel as Alexander Jack Billings played the ball inside to Jack Mahoney, who swept his first-time left-footed shot straight at Wheeler from 15-yards.
Golding said: “It was probably our best move of the half to be honest. We didn’t really play a great deal. The pitch is horrific to play on it, it just bounces everywhere. I know it’s the same for both sides. Fisher done alright in the final third when they do try to play. A shot on target but Dan’s a good goalkeeper.”
“It was cagey, I wouldn’t say it was a chess but it was a bit of no-one wanted to give too much away,” said Harrison.
“We came out and we wanted to be attacking. We went 4-3-3 and we wanted to have a go at them. No one wanted to give too much away and we knew the longer the game went on as a draw the more they would have to come out because the pressure was on them to win the game. We didn’t have to win the game. A draw would’ve done us so we knew the game would open up.
“At half-time, I said keep doing what you’re doing, just keep playing around the edge of the box and keep winning your battles in the middle.”
Golding added: “There were a bit of nerves and the occasion. Fisher knew they can get a draw and spoilt the day. The emphasis isn’t on them, it’s on us to come out and try to raise the tempo and create the tempo in the game.
“At half-time, I said just for them to have a little bit more belief, just to play a little bit more. The chances would come, not to get desperate and leave pockets because their three fast boys (Brown, Ramsamy and Kasai) up front are dangerous on the counter-attack and we didn’t want to leave ourselves too open but we knew we needed to try to nick a goal at some point.”
Fisher bossed the midfield as Geddis (dominated Housego); Mott (dominated Mahoney) and Rose (dominated Jamie Billings) all won their own personal battles against nervous Corinthian players.
Harrison said: “We kind of knew on Saturday that we were more or less out of the title race. I still put a team out to win on Saturday against K Sports but Andrew Mott needed a little rest and so did Pat Geddis so I rested them for today to keep them fresh for this game.”
Golding admitted: “They did (win the midfield battle) from the first whistle. I thought their midfield got on top of ours and I don’t know why to be honest.
“Maybe they’re a bit fresher, they made two changes in midfield but we back our boys Jamie, Jack and Oscar becuase are a good midfield three and they’ve got good balance but we never got up to the pace of the game today so they definitely won that midfield battle.”
Fisher started the second half on the front foot and set the tone when Mott found touch straight from the kick-off towards the corner flag.
Just 25 seconds were on the clock when the ball went up to Rose, who hooked the ball into Kasai, who rolled the ball back for Hamill to drill his first time left-footed drive across the keeper and past the far post from 30-yards.
“A great, great effort. We took the centre put it right down by the corner flag just to box them in and put them under pressure straight away,” said Harrison.
Golding said: “Sam Groombridge and I looked at each other and everything that we said at half-time about getting on the front foot and starting brightly and the left-back has had a shot that whistled past the far post.
“It was just one of those days. They were the better side. If their cup final effectively isn’t it. We’ve ruined the rest of their season. We’ve beaten them in the League, we’ve beaten them in the Vase and the League Cup so it’s a little bit of pay back today but it was a good start from them.”
Brinkley released Ramsamy down the right channel and he played in a low cross into the penalty area to Brown, whose first time shot on the run flashed across the keeper and past the far post.
Corinthian were hanging on at this stage and Ramsamy played Kasai in behind Jack Holland and as keeper Prall came off his line, the Fisher winger swept his shot across the keeper and past the far post from eight-yards out.
Fisher deserved their lead when it finally arrived with 17 minutes and 51 seconds on the clock.
Fisher centre-half Daniel Flemming ran out with the ball at his feet and was allowed to do so by Oloyede.
He played the ball up to Rose and Kasai easily cut inside Holland and put it on a plate for Mott, who found a pocket of space on the edge of the box to drill a first time right-footed drive over a crowd of players into the top left-hand corner, to score his eighth goal of the season.
Harrison said: “Flemming came out and he had the ball and he was being pressed. He was so strong and he kept going until he got in their half and released it and Motty’s finish was different class! I was right behind it. It was beautiful. Top bins. I’ll have them all day long!
“He was great today Motty. He has been fantastic for us all season. We knew they were going to come at us now and commit more players forward and we knew when teams do that against us we know the pace we’ve got we can always hit on the break, so just keep doing the right things.”
Golding said: “Great finish, unbelievable goal! We were right behind it and it’s gone straight into the top corner!
“Disappointed from our point of view. We could’ve done more to stop Flemming running out with it at source. Emmanuel’s put his hands up and Oscar could’ve done a little bit better with the ball bouncing around and their midfielder’s found a pocket of space yet again and it’s fallen to them.
“We pride ourselves on defending well. We’ve got a relative good defensive record this year but they did find pockets and it felt a goal was coming.”
Halfway through the second half, the body language from the Corinthian players clearly showed that they felt that their title dream was ending on the banks of the River Thames in Rotherhithe. At the final whistle, two of their players slumped to the ground in despair, another two looked down at the pitch and Golding will have to pick his boys up for their last two games.
“I don’t know what was missing,” admitted Golding.
“It’s not an excuse because everyone in the league has got to play two games in three days. I don’t know why we don’t play on Friday and Monday like Division One? I think that would’ve definitely helped.
“Fisher looked a lot brighter than us. I don’t know. Is it that lack of experience from the boys? We’ve not had many boys in that position but I don’t want to have a go at them now because they’ve got themselves in that position where the league title is in your hands with two games to go.
“I think if we get an early goal we go on and win comfortably but we didn’t get it. We huffed and puffed and that was about it really.”
With Corinthian pushing bodies forward, space opened up in front of Mott inside the final 10 minutes and he cut in from the left to drill a right-footed drive sailing agonisingly just over the top of the far post from 35-yards out.
“He had another go didn’t he. He fancied it today once he got that first one and that was close, it was a great strike,” added Harrison.
Golding added: “Another good effort. I’d like to say Aiden had that covered but I don’t know to be honest! They’re a good side and they’re good at what they do and he’s hit the ball well.”
Corinthian created their only opening of the second half when Oloyede played the ball inside to Jamie Billings, whose left-footed drive from the edge of the D stung Wheeler’s fingers as he dropped to his knees to grab hold of the ball.
Golding said: “The keeper got himself behind it. It’s a good effort from Jamie. He found himself in an advanced position and you just think if that goes in and it’s another couple of yards wider of the keeper it forces him into a more difficult save.
“I think if we get one goal we go on to get two because we get that little bit more belief because of what went on in the Semi-Final (scoring a late, late equaliser to force extra-time before winning the game 4-3). They were already starting to drop a little bit deeper and just try to hit us on the counter but if that’s you’re only real chance of the second half, you’re going to struggle to win games.”
Harrison added: “What can I say about Dan? Another clean sheet. I think he’s the best goalkeeper in this league. He’s 22 years old and I haven’t seen anyone we’ve played against whose as good as him. In five years’ time if he’s not at least playing two leagues higher I’ll be very disappointed with him.”
Fisher’s three substitutions all happened inside the final six minutes to eat up time and one of them, Rob Brown took a touch and his left-footed drive from 20-yards was comfortably saved by Wheeler.
Fisher hit Corinthian on the counter-attack to seal the deal just nine seconds into time added on, through Ramsamy's eleventh goal of the season.
Corinthian were pressing for an equaliser and were hit on the break as substitute Afilabi Soyemi-Olade released Ramsamy – who was in acres of space vacated by centre-halves Jai McKinley and Bath - and he calmly slotted his shot into the bottom left-hand corner when he only had the former Charlton Athletic keeper to beat.
Harrison said: “Brilliant! Damo said to me when we had a little break in the second half, he said ‘it’s not coming, it’s not coming’ and I said ‘just be patient and it will come.’
“I said they will have to commit and Afilabi picked him out really well and he done what he does best, put the ball in the back of the net.”
“One-nil or 2-0 at that point it doesn’t really bother me to be honest,” said Golding.
“We put both centre-halves forward, we were defending effectively a two and we’re running a risk but we would always rather have a go.”
Fisher almost grabbed a third deep into injury time when Ramsamy broke down the right and teed up Rob Brown, whose right-footed drive was palmed away by Prall, who dived to his right to make the save.
Fisher’s players and supporters clearly enjoyed denting Corinthian’s title bid at the final whistle with music blaring out of the home dressing room.
“Fantastic! It meant so much for those boys today to get the win against them. We’ve had some real good battles with them. They’re a real good side and we’ve felt a bit hard done by so we showed real character today,” said Harrison.
So with one league game left to play, Cray Valley lead on 88 points, followed by Corinthian (87); Fisher (82) and Chatham Town (79).
Cray Valley travel to ninth-placed Canterbury City; Fisher travel to Chatham Town for the battle who wins third-place, while Corinthian welcome bottom-six side Bearsted to Gay Dawn Farm, before they lock horns with Chatham Town in the Challenge Cup Final at Longmead Stadium in Tonbridge on Saturday 4 May (14:00).
“It’s all irrelevant, there’s no prizes for third or fourth,” admitted Harrison.
“Chatham are a great side, they’ve got two Cup Finals this year. We’re going to go there and enjoy our last game of the season. We’ve got our night out after. We’re just going to enjoy everything that we’ve done. We’ve absolutely overachieved this year and I’m very proud of the boys in that dressing room.”
For the integrity of the League, it is expected that Canterbury City and Bearsted field strong sides next Saturday and give it everything that they got as this thrilling title race is settled once and for all on the final day of the season.
Golding said: “You’re now asking Canterbury and Ben Smith and his boys to do us a favour, which ultimately we didn’t want it to be that way. We wanted it to be in our hands but listen Canterbury are a good side, they’ve caused us problems. I just hope Ben can get his boys up for it and they want a little bit of revenge for what went on in the Vase.”
And on Corinthian’s game against Bearsted, Golding added: “I’m proud of the boys, very proud that we’re going into the last game of the season with a chance of winning the league.
“You can tell from (my players’) whole demeanour before the game the knew what was riding on this game and I think if you’ve got to come away and win a game you don’t want to play Chatham, Cray Valley or Fisher. You wouldn’t choose them, you’d rather play somewhere else or anywhere else.
“But it was probably a step too far but the boys will learn from this experience and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done.
“It sounds like we’re throwing the towel in – absolutely not! We’ll go again and try to get another three points and that will put us on 90 points for the season, which is an incredibly points tally.
“Everyone’s been saying this has been the best SCEFL there’s even been and little Corinthian are up there battling with a massive team like Cray Valley.”
Fisher: Daniel Wheeler, Harvey Brinkley, Ritchie Hamill, Pat Geddis, Harry Tobin, Daniel Flemming, Jamie Brown (Afilabi Soyemi-Olade 80), Andrew Mott, Mathieu Ramsamy, Jake Rose (Rob Brown 84), Chandler Kasai (Trey Small 88).
Subs: Jacob Skelly, Kushal Campbell-Palmer
Goals: Andrew Mott 63, Mathieu Ramsamy 90
Booked: Harry Tobin 38, Mathieu Ramsamy 90, Harvey Brindley 90
Corinthian: Aiden Prall, Jack Holland, Alexander Jack Billings, Jamie Billings, Jai McKinley, Jack Bath, Andres Felipe Losada Tobon, Jack Mahoney (Steven Ita 72), Emmanuel Oloyede, Oscar Housego, Luke Tanner (Shaun Brown 55, Oliver Milton 62)).
Subs: Jack Healey, Kameron Gyeabour
Booked: Luke Tanner 31, Alexander Jack Billings 45, Emmanuel Oloyede 72, Jamie Billings 90
Referee: Mr Peter Conn (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Howard Collins (Horton Kirby) & Mr Daniel Blades (Wrotham)