Fisher 4-3 Beckenham Town - It's just fairytale stuff, says proud Fisher boss Billy Walton

Wednesday 12th March 2014

Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Semi-Final First Leg
Wednesday 12th March 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium

FISHER manager Billy Walton says his side received a slice of divine intervention after his heroic players’ produced the comeback of the season against their bitter-rivals Beckenham Town.

Beckenham Town thought they had one foot in the showpiece final when Jason Huntley’s side raced into a 3-0 lead within 42 minutes.

Frankie Warren’s stunning strike after only 115 seconds set the tone in this pulsating Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Semi-Final First Leg, before Beckenham Town doubled their lead through Jake Britnell’s solo effort.

And when striker Alfie Nunn drilled home his fourteenth goal of the season, it had Walton looking up in the murky south London sky for inspiration.

Up stepped Bermondsey boy Danny Maguire who accepted a life line in the fifth minute of time added on at the end of the first half to score his eighth-goal of the season from the penalty spot.

However, what was to follow will definitely go down as arguably Fisher’s best game of their short five-year history, as a three goal blitz during seven amazing minutes put next Tuesday’s Second Leg at Eden Park Avenue on a knife edge.

Piers Hanifan came up from right-back to tap home a couple of close range efforts, before striker Jay Garrick came off the bench to chip a stunning 35-yarder into the top right hand corner.

Warren, who was playing against his former club, however, turned from hero to villain when he received a straight red card for what referee Darren Keating confirmed in the players’ tunnel after the drama was an elbow at Kieron Campbell’s face inside the final three minutes.

Unfortunately, the manner in which Beckenham Town threw away a commanding 3-0 lead left a bitter taste in Huntley’s mouth as he put his mobile telephone to his ear and marched out of the clubhouse at Dulwich Hamlet’s Champion Hill before a request for an interview was put to him.

“It was fantastic for the spectator. It was the best £7 anyone’s spent at this venue so far this season for us,” said Walton afterwards.

“It was exciting, pulsating. That’s what’s Cup football is all about.  It came out good in the end for us. I’m just so proud of the group of lads, supposedly against your fierce rivals.

“To be 3-0 down and come back to win 4-3, its fairytale stuff, it’s just fairytale stuff.”

Beckenham Town blitzed Fisher in the early stages and Nunn released Damien Ramsamy through on goal but he flashed his right-footed shot past the left-hand post from 25-yards after only 34 seconds.

But Fisher’s debutant goalkeeper, Bradley McNamara, who has come in on dual-registration from Ryman League Division One North leaders VCD Athletic, was to concede the first goal.

James Marshall floated in a free-kick into the penalty area and the ball was cleared out to Warren, who drilled a stunning right-footed volley into the left-hand corner from 30-yards to score his fifth-goal of the season.

Warren sprinted over to the Beckenham Town dug-out and we will never know what his celebration meant.

“Frankie knows how much I think off him,” said Walton, who has now seen his side extend their unbeaten run to five games.

“I’ve known Frankie since he was ten-years-old.  We won London Cups together as kids, me, Frankie and Steve Firkins and Adam Wadmore and stuff like that. 

“Great goal Frankie. He’s a smashing lad. Fantastic footballer.”

Walton added: “I think for the first minute and a half we done what we asked. It thought to myself we’re not doing bad.  Fair play to the lad, it was a great goal. That should be on goal of the season.”

Travis Gregory then blasted his right-footed drive over the Fisher crossbar whilst under pressure from 22-yards, before Fisher created their first opening in the tenth minute of a frenetic start.

Maguire played a free-kick into Kieron Burrell’s feet before receiving the ball back before flashing his right-footed drive past the near post from 35-yards.

Marshall then drilled his right-footed free-kick harmlessly over McNamara’s crossbar, before the visiting side cranked it up.

Beckenham Town left-back Adam Wadmore blasted his free-kick into the wall and Marshall struck a first time drive towards goal from 30-yards, which forced McNamara into making a smart save, low to his right to hold on to the ball.

Winger Gregory then whipped in a low centre, which was teed-up by Britnell for Ramsamy to be denied by McNamara from 20-yards.

Wadmore was to be denied a goal against his former club when he penetrated Fisher right-back Piers Hanifan before unleashing a left-footed drive from 30-yards, which was comfortably saved.

Beckenham Town deservedly doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Britnell produced a moment of sheer quality to score his 12th goal of the season.

The central midfielder picked the ball up on the half-way line to sprint forward and he curved his way towards the left-hand side of the penalty area.  His initial left-footed dinked shot was blocked by the keeper’s legs from 10-yards, but Britnell was not to be denied, steering his left-footed shot across the keeper into the bottom far corner.

Fisher appeared to target Britnell on the night but Walton admitted that the highly-rated Beckenham Town midfielder was a threat.

He said: “I don’t really know him. He’s a good player.  We should have dealt with that on the half-way line.  We should have got to him. We let him run. That was a bad goal for us, very bad goal. Two-nil from that position he should never had scored from there.”

Fisher squandered a chance to claw themselves back into the game when Maguire released Campbell down the right channel but the winger dragged his right-footed angled shot across the penalty area and out for a throw by the corner flag.

Beckenham Town appeared to have had the game won, scoring their third goal in the 42nd minute.

Britnell played a clever pass in behind Charlie Gray and Tom Carr to put Warren in who from a tight angle saw his effort pushed away by the diving McNamara, but the ball fell at the unmarked Nunn, who drilled his right-footed shot into the middle of the goal from ten-yards.

Walton said: “We work on things in training and some of these lads are not experienced enough at the moment to understand what we’re trying to say to them when the balls going in to areas of the pitch.

“We had to pick up the dangerman. We see it week in week out. The dangerman is always unmarked. I said to them, the two lads that actually scored out of the three goals was two lads who I identified for us to mark tight in the box so it was poor.”

When asked how he was feeling at 3-0 down, Walton revealed: “Game over! I looked up to the heavens. I said to my dear old mum and my brother who passed away many years ago, I looked up to the heavens and I thought ‘don’t let me get beat this hard. I weren’t that bad of a son!’

“We got our rewards. My mum must have looked down on me because we got our reward of a penalty. I couldn’t see the penalty. I don’t know whether it was a penalty or not. I was just happy that he gave us the penalty.”

By this stage, Fisher appeared to be dead and buried, but they started to rally as the game edged towards the break.

Richard Morgan played in Junior James – a Ryman League Division One South title winner for Dulwich Hamlet last season – but Nathan Paul got back to clear the ball off the line as it rolled towards the bottom far corner.

Beckenham Town central defender Paul was adjudged to have used his hand as he went to ground in a goal-mouth scramble after Maguire played a low cross into the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.

Maguire stepped up and galvanised his team-mates when he steered his right-footed penalty in off the foot of the right-hand post with 49:15 on the clock.

We will never know what Huntley said to his troops during the half-time interval – but Walton said Maguire’s eighth-goal of the season changed the complexion.

“We talked about it at half-time and you think in their camp they’re 3-0 up and in the 49th minute you concede a penalty. It’s just a massive boost for us.

“We’ve come in, instead of being on the floor, we’ve come in on a high and we’re still 3-1 down but we’ve come in on a high!

“We’ve got a lifeline, let’s go and grab it!”

Beckenham Town keeper Rilwan Anibaba was called into making two saves inside the opening four minutes of the second half to deny Maguire scoring.

Maguire clipped his right-footed free-kick over the wall, which Anibaba dived to his right to parry to safety, before Maguire’s next attempt saw the ball slide through the bottom of the wall before the stopper dived to his left to hold on to the ball.

“I was praying for one of them to go in,” said Walton.

“He’s quite good from dead balls as we know from before and if he slips one of those in it will be game on, but their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves. I would have liked to see one of them go in!”

Beckenham Town squandered a chance to put the game to bed when the impressive Britnell flicked the ball on to release Ramsamy, who drilled his left-footed shot past the top of the near post.

Beckenham Town won themselves a free-kick in the left channel, which Marshall clipped towards the near post for Wadmore to hooked his shot on the turn past the post.

However, what was to follow will live in the memory banks of both sets of supporters as Fisher produced a miracle come back.

Carr hurled a long throw into the penalty area, which wasn’t cleared at the near post by Beckenham and the ball rolled loose to Piers Hanifan who couldn’t believe his luck and stabbed his shot across Anibaba for the ball to roll into the bottom far corner in the 62nd minute.

“To be honest with you, the goal is totally against my principles,” admitted Walton.

“People will mostly read this report and think what you’re doing taking a long throw?!

“I don’t like seeing throws but I think in our situation we had to do everything that we could. We threw a long ball into the box and it caused a bit of a melee and it fell to Piers. He stabbed it home with his studs, I think, from three-yards out and we’re back in the game.”

Fisher equalised within four minutes when Morgan wriggled his way into the penalty area to the left by-line to cut the ball back for Piers Hanifan to tap the ball into the empty net from two-yards.

“I thought Richard Morgan was a threat all night,” said Walton.

“He done a lot of good things for us.  The things we talked about at half-time, we went and produced it on the pitch. We talked about things at half-time and I said to the lads if we don’t do the things we talked about, we’re going to get beat.

“If we’re going to get beat let’s do the things that we’ve worked on. They went out for the second half and done a lot of the things we’ve done.

“I’m not going to say what we’ve done because I don’t want Beckenham to know. The second half was good to come-back.”

Fisher produced a dramatic winner just 149 seconds later, which Beckenham Town couldn’t recover from.

Beckenham Town keeper Anibaba clipped the ball forward which was headed towards him by Campbell and substitute Garrick shrugged off Jalloh Gassimo before the striker produced a world-class left-footed chip from 35-yards, which sailed over the keeper’s head and caressed the top right-hand corner.

“I think I’ve got to get a bit of credit for that to make a substitution,” said Walton.

“Manager’s always get credit for that but I don’t believe in all that old tosh! You make a substitution, it comes off for you, you get the credit, but it could have fallen to anyone. It was a great goal. He chipped it over his head and in to the net.”

Stunned Beckenham Town threw on two substitutes to salvage something from the game but Fisher almost hit the opponents on the break with seven minutes left.

Morgan played the ball forward and Campbell released Garrick down the right with a sublime pass with the outside of his boot, but Garrick dragged his right-footed shot wide of the far post.

Shell-shocked Beckenham Town finished the game with ten-men when Warren elbowed Campbell in the face right in front of the Fisher dug-out and was handed a straight red card after collecting a yellow card earlier on.

Walton added: “As I say I know Frankie, I don’t think Frank meant to do anything like that!  He didn’t deliberately mean to elbow anyone. When your arms are up sometimes you see it all the time. Sometimes you get sent off, sometimes you don’t, but I don’t think Frank meant to do anything nasty.

“He knows unfortunately Frank’s got a reputation that people see him as a bit of a nasty player, but he’s heart and soul. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he gives his all 100%. 

“Sometimes referee’s might think that’s a bit aggressive but I think it was a bit harsh the sending off.”

So there’s plenty to play for in next Tuesday’s Second Leg showdown at Eden Park Avenue.

Away goals only count double after extra-time in the second leg – and if away goals don’t separate the sides, penalties will be taken.

Walton warned: “Half-time and we’re in with a shout.  We’re in with an opportunity to get to a Cup final, but it’s going to be extremely, extremely difficult.

“Beckenham are absolutely a very, very good side. Make no qualms about that.

“I know we’ve got to go there and we’ll have to perform to our utmost best and have to give every ounce of energy we’ve got to get through because they’re a very good side and they’ve got a load of good players, load of dangerous players who can cut you open at will.

“We’ve got a chance. We’ve got a slim chance.

“I had a dream that it will be six-all and we would win 8-7 on penalties so see if that dream comes true.”

Beckenham Town travel to Kent Invicta League side Fleet Leisure on Saturday in the Kent Senior Trophy Sponsored by Spire Alexandra Semi-Final.

Lee Richmond’s side thrashed Seven Acre & Sidcup 7-1 in tonight’s Pain & Glory Kent Invicta League Challenge Shield Quarter-Final, winning 10-3 on aggregate.

Fisher welcome Corinthian to Champion Hill in the league on Saturday in which could be the dress rehearsal for the League Cup Final after Matt Longhurst’s side won their first leg against Erith Town by four goals to one at Gay Dawn Farm last night.

“We’ve got Corinthian on Saturday so it will be good for them to have a look at us and we’ll look at them,” said Walton.

“If we both get through it would be great but if we don’t that game’s a league game so we’ll see how we get on.

“I just want to get to the final. It would be great for the club, great for the area. We’re a club that’s gone from the ashes to get to a final will be a dream. It would be absolutely fantastic.

“I wouldn’t care if we lost. I just want to get to the final.”

Fisher: Bradley McNamara, Piers Hanifan, Charlie Gray, Harvey Hanifan, Tom Carr, Billy Walton, Richard Morgan (Jay Garrick 63), Kieron Burrell, Junior James, Danny Maguire, Kieron Campbell.
Subs: Aaron Seales, Dan Flemming, Mike Damarola

Goals: Danny Maguire 45 (penalty), Piers Hanifan 62, 67, Jay Garrick 69

Booked: Kieron Campbell 58, Billy Walton 65, Charlie Gray 75, Tom Carr 80, Richard Morgan 90

Beckenham Town: Rilwan Anibaba, Micah Banton, Adam Wadmore, Jalloh Gassimo, Nathan Paul, Frankie Warren, James Marshall, Jake Britnell, Damian Ramsamy (Jamie Humphries 74), Alfie Nunn, Travis Gregory (Alex Wilks 74).
Subs: Charlie Helps, Richard Pearce, Joe Jackson

Goals: Frankie Warren 2, Jake Britnell 23, Alfie Nunn 42

Booked:  Frankie Warren 48, Jake Britnell 76

Sent Off: Frankie Warren 87

Attendance: 127
Referee: Mr Darren Keating (Chatham)
Assistants: Mr Oliver Fyfe (Lewisham, London SE13) & Mr Stephen Cole (Borough Green)

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