Fisher 3-4 Sheppey United - I've said to the chairman, if you're not happy with results, get rid of me," says Fisher boss Gary Abbott
Fisher 3 – 4 Sheppey United
|Location||St Paul's Stadium, Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London SE16 6NT|
FISHER 3-4 SHEPPEY UNITED
Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Second Round
Tuesday 15th November 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from St Paul’s Stadium
FISHER manager Gary Abbott has threatened to quit if his players continue their run losing streak after this seven-goal thriller.
Sheppey United booked their place in the last 16 of the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup after an entertaining game in Rotherhithe.
Sheppey United arrived at St Paul’s in third-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division having won their last three games and having collected 33 points from 16 games, one point behind leaders Ashford United.
Fisher suffered their fourth straight defeat on the bounce and are rooted to the foot of the league table with one win and four draws from their 17 league games and facing an uphill struggle to maintain their current league status.
Sheppey United raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 26 minutes through strikers Lee Friend and Dan Bradshaw.
But Fisher showed character to fight back to go in all-square at the break. Former Queens Park Rangers striker Trey Williams dinked in his 12th goal of the season, before midfielder Isa Hussein, 27, scored the first of two world-class top-corner free-kicks.
Bradshaw headed Sheppey United into the lead before Hussein grabbed an equaliser through another brilliant free-kick.
Despite making some breathtaking saves during the second half, Fisher keeper Ricky Wadman, 20, was at fault for Sheppey United’s late winner, which was headed in by Bradshaw, his hat-trick taking him to five goals for the season.
“My thoughts are what an exciting game again, four-three. We do like to dish up a spectacle and this one was no different,” said Sheppey United manager Ernie Batten, after winning back-to-back away games 4-3 this week.
“For a manager’s point of view you’re looking to keep clean sheets and win the games. I think we must’ve had 80% of the possession especially the second half and won 4-3.
“Hats off to the lad who’s got the two free-kicks for them. They were fantastic strikes. A little bit disappointed that we gave the free-kicks away on the edge of the box like that, but it was a very enjoyable game.
“I’d rather win. I think 4-3’s are great for the crowd, great for the fans who come and travel and attended our away matches but of course I’d take 1-0, which is good for the blood pressure.
“I thought their young keeper tonight made some incredible saves, top reflex saves. He was at full-stretch for two or three of them. I said to Gary Abbott what a brave young keeper he is, some fantastic saves kept them in the game.”
Abbott locked his players inside the dressing room until 10:23 after suffering their 13th defeat in his 20th game in charge of the club.
“Well, there was a lot of positive out of it, I’ve got to say that,” said Abbott.
“Same old story to be honest with you, having four or five players that are not making the game. I’m not going to hide that from anyone and it can’t happen! I’m trying to send my team out, I’m writing my team out before the games and on match day I’m having to change it again by four or five players and for whatever reason, whether it’s work, whether they’re ill, but I’m getting it all the time. I’m getting it every game.
“That’s why we had a chat in there. It can’t happen now. That’s up to me to sort it out. There’s lots of little things in there that are not right. We’ve had a chat and hopefully we’ll get some things sorted out.
“When we say something to players’, we want them to take it on the chin. As you know we’re a very young side. There were words said at the keeper and words said at other players and we were just talking about desire because I’m fed up about every game we’ve played when the opposition manager and players are saying to me ‘why are you down the bottom?’ We’ve got good players and we play some good football. We could’ve beaten Sheppey tonight but we’re just lacking that little bit of quality, which is in every game. We’re averaging two and a half goals a game and we’re bottom of the league! It’s good to hear that teams are saying that but it’s no good for me because we’re losing at the end of it!
“We have to turn that round because it’s habits and we’re in a losing habit at the minute and we’ve been saying in there we have to stick together and if we say something to you don’t shout back at us, which is happening. Take it on the chin. I expect that from young players, I shouldn’t expect it from youngsters having a pop back!”
Now that the club are back in Rotherhithe, Abbott needs financial backing from the club with a budget otherwise the club could be relegated at the end of the season.
Abbott said: “It is a very tough job and I don’t want to make excuses. I’ve even said to the chairman, if you’re not happy with results, get rid of me, get rid of me. If that’s what you feel is right for the club.
“I don’t think it is. I suppose any manager will say that. I just think clubs have got to have a bit of belief in someone and I really feel I’m the right person to do that. If things change on the budget side it would be nice but at the minute it aint and we crack on and get on with it. It’s about having that little bit of quality and need to turn it around.”
A failed floodlight pylon plunged the middle of the pitch into darkness but referee Phillip Dunkley allowed the game to start, although both teams will need to plan ahead when it comes to deciding which strip to wear as both sides played in a similar striped strip.
Fisher created the first opening after 10 minutes when central midfielder Joel Mensah unleashed an angled drive from the left-hand side, which forced Sheppey United keeper Tom Wellham into making a low save.
Sheppey United left-back Joseph Fornah played Timmy Babbington through the heart of the Fisher defence but Ricky Wadman advanced to the edge of his penalty area to make a vital block.
Batten said: “Timmy’s developing now as a player. He was very erratic last season. We work on Timmy. We’re getting him doing the right things in the right areas. He’s a handful for any defence. Timmy played a little bit narrower. We started with three in the middle and he was one of them. He can spring out of the three and get himself wide or he can play in an outhordox 4-4-2, right-hand side of midfield.”
Fisher were dangerous with their pacy wingers and strikers but their defending was woeful.
Tyrell McLeod-Bentley swept a cross-field pass out to Joseph Adesina, who charged down the left before hitting a low drive which was saved by Wellham, low to his left.
Sheppey United opened the scoring with 17 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.
George Batten floated in a cross from the right which was poorly headed away by Fisher right-back Alfie Roche and Friend hooked his shot into the top near corner from inside the penalty area.
“Yes, that was a great hook wasn’t it? It was smashing,” said Batten.
“I think with Lee he plays stuff-off-the-cuff. He’s come from Farnborough Old Boys Guild in the Kent County League and he went to Erith Town, the first time he stepped up into senior football. He’s very raw and he’s got attributes that you wouldn’t want to take away from him. He see’s things early, hits things off the cut, tries shots from angles, he’s an out-and-out striker.”
Abbott said: “I know Lee from Erith Town. You give him half a chance and he’ll put it one away, simple as that. I thought Rochie should’ve been better on the header. It was a poor header. If someone tells him, he could’ve brought it down to be honest with you, but it’s just getting that someone else to give information out, which is part of our team that’s not working as well. I don’t think the information’s good enough.”
Fisher debutant Kieron McMahon, who hasn’t played much football for Division One side Sporting Club Thamesmead, made space for himself at the near post to guide his header into Wellham’s hands after winger McLeod-Bentley whipped in a cross from the right.
Abbott said: “I’ve got to mention Kieron, whose come in for his debut. He’s been at Sporting Club Thamesmead this year and they’ve not been playing him and I can’t understand that! He’s come in tonight. He gives us another dimension. All season we’ve not had a striker who makes hard work for a centre half and he done that tonight. He’s put his body there, he won his header, he stopped centre halves winning headers and we got a lot of joy out of that. He’s had a couple of half chances as well. It would’ve been nice for him to score. I’m well happy with him tonight.”
Williams and Adesina linked up well down the left and captain Hussein’s left-footed drive from 25-yards bounced into Wellham’s hands for a comfortable save.
Sheppey United were playing an attack minded 4-3-3 formation and Bradshaw clipped his shot straight at Wadman as he lurked at the far post.
Fisher’s best play came in the first half and they went close to equalising when right-back Roche drove in a cross and Williams stabbed his first time shot wide at the near post.
Sheppey United produced a nice move as they doubled their lead in the 26th minute.
Atkins, who was the quieter of Sheppey’s front three, whipped in a high-quality low cross from the right wing and Bradshaw got in front of his man to flick his first time shot across Wadman, the ball nestling into the bottom left-hand corner.
Batten said: “We’re pleased with Dan. I think he got a hat-trick tonight and he’s a predator Dan, he wants to score goals. It’s the first time at this level for Dan. He scored a lot of goals (41) for Gravesham Borough last year and came to us and now he’s proving that he can score at this level so I’m pleased for the lad.”
Abott added: “I think most of the games we’ve conceded could’ve been stopped. We’re letting people get across us. If you’re in your box you get your arms up, an iron bar and making sure they don’t get across you, which we don’t do. But I can’t keep making excuses for them that they’re only 18-19. They’ve got to learn and they’ve got to learn quick! I can’t keep sticking up for them.”
Bradshaw then released Atkins, who cut into the penalty area and his left-footed angled low drive brought a comfortable save from the Fisher keeper.
But Fisher accepted their lifeline by pulling a goal back in the 32nd minute.
Abbott faces a tough test to keep Trey Williams at the club after another impressive performance tonight – and revealed Ryman Premier League club Kingstonian have been keeping tabs on the former Queens Park Rangers striker.
McLeod-Bentley whipped in a lovely deep cross form the right and Williams got the ball out from under his feet before dinking his right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
“Trey Williams has come back tonight and if you give him half a chance and he’s going to put it away, which he did,” said Abbott.
“It’s 12 goals for us. Every team needs a goalscorer and he’s not been with us for the last two or three weeks. He’s been going to Kingstonian, so hopefully that’s not going to happen now. Obviously I want it to happen for him. I’m happy for players to move on but at this time I need a goalscorer.”
Batten added: “This lad (Williams) looks a good player, very tricky, pacy and looking at the scoring charts he’s knocking a few goals in for them as well this season.
“Gary was a great striker himself. He believes he will score a lot of goals. I tend to agree with him.”
Friend’s attempted chip from down the right channel was caught by the Fisher keeper, before Fisher equalised with a piece of quality from player-coach Hussein six minutes before half-time.
Hussein got his left-footed free-kick up and over the four-man wall from 25-yards out, the ball curled and dipped down into the top left-hand corner. Despite Wellham sticking up his arm, no keeper in the world was going to save this special strike.
Abbott said: “What can you say about that?! When it happened I actually called it because he done one in the last minute against Bearsted. I said he’s got to put one in the top corner and he’s done exactly the same again so yes that’s what he's all about. He needs to do that more but then we’ve got to be getting free-kicks around the edge of the box more.
“It just shows that when you do that, we’ve got half-a-chance to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Joking, Batten added: “I was a bit annoyed with our keeper about that, I thought he could’ve….
“No! You can’t do nothing about them. He’s stuck it superbly dipping over the goalkeeper’s head. Goal all day long. We’ve got no complaints about that. Just a little bit disappointed with the way we gave the free-kick away.”
Fisher finished the first half on the front foot.
Trey Williams hit a right-footed 30-yard dipping drive, which only just cleared the top of the right-hand post, before Babbington hit his shot from similar range over the Fisher crossbar and over the stand roof at the other end.
Hussein swung in a corner from the right and Alhajie Jabbie came up from the back to direct his free header just past the far post.
Atkins then drove his shot past the frame of the goal for Sheppey United as an entertaining first half came to an end.
“We went in there quite confident. We just said get your couple of minute’s rest and then just go and do what we’re doing. We just said go out there carry on playing and enjoy it,” said Abbott.
“If you don’t work hard, you don’t get anything out of it. I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game to be fair. I think we should’ve gone into extra-time and we could’ve even won it.”
Batten added: “Pleased in the way we played. Our stats, we’re scoring plenty of goals now but of course we’re conceding a lot. It maybe very exciting for the fans but not much for me, I’m going to lose my hair certainly if this carries on.
“We were just disappointed. We got control of the game at 2-0 and we let that slip. I think defensively we could’ve improved. Of course, you couldn’t do much about their second goal.”
Both teams appeared to have tightened up at the start of the second half but James Huggins played the ball inside for Atkins to drill his left-footed shot past the post from 25-yards.
Fisher keeper Wadman pulled off a smart save in the 53rd minute.
Huggins floated in a deep cross and Friend brought the ball down under his spell before drilling a right-footed shot towards the far corner, forcing Wadman to dive to his right to palm the ball towards safety.
Sheppey United dominated the second half and they took the lead in the 58th minute.
Batten floated in a cross from the left and Bradshaw’s towering header flew into the roof of the net.
The Sheppey manager said: “I thought that was a great move and a great cross from George and Dan was where all good strikers should be, in and around the six-yard box , so a good header.”
The Fisher manager added: “We’ve given the ball away as well and they’ve gone down and punished us. That’s been the story as well. I think the cross was alright. If you don’t stop the cross, alright it’s a good cross, they don’t score.”
Huggins and right-back Marvin Olundalaiya linked up down the right and Huggins stabbed his shot just past the foot of the right-hand post, before the Fisher keeper made a low save to deny Bradshaw firing in from an angled drive after 65 minutes.
Babbington swept a ball over the top of Fisher left-back Veejay Miller and Bradshaw saw the ball drop over his shoulder before drilling a powerful right-footed drive from the right-hand side of the box, which was screaming into the top far corner of the net, only for Wadman to dive high to his right to tip the ball behind for a corner.
“He’s a great shot stopper Rick. I’ve said that to him but he just has to improve parts of his game and I’m sure we’ll get that out of him,” said Abbott.
“The goalkeeper has got to be loud. He’s not the biggest keeper as you can see, he's probably the best shot-stopper I’ve seen in this league but he’s got to work hard in games, like coming out for balls. Striker’s see him and go ‘let’s put it on him, let’s smash him,’ which is a disadvantage.
“His shot-stopping proved tonight and in other games he is a good keeper but he's got to be louder and he’s not taking it on the chin. Don’t come back at us, at the end of the day we’re trying to help you. We’re a young side, we’re trying to help you so just take it on board and that’s all we’re trying to get across to the players, they have a little dig at you.”
“This kid, what he lacks in stature, he certainly makes up with this overall goalkeeping and his reflexes,” added Batten.
Wadman was at it again, diving swiftly low to his right to tip around Babbington’s right-footed drive from the edge of the penalty area, as the ball seemed destined to nestle into the bottom left-hand corner.
Sheppey United squandered an excellent chance to kill off Fisher in the 70th minute.
Babbington released Friend down the right and he drove in a cross, which sailed over Fisher central defender George Booker at the near post and fell at Bradshaw’s feet at the far. He controlled the ball and lashed his shot against the underside of the crossbar.
Batten thought it was in, by saying: “One of my forwards said it was a goal, foot over the line. It hit the bar, went over and came back out but we’ve not got goalline technology at this level just yet so we’ll have to accept that. If it did not hit the back of the net, the linesman didn’t see it then they can’t give it. It was another good move and he should’ve finished it really.”
Abbott added: “I thought it was a goal. It hit the bar and when it hit the bar and went down I thought it actually went over the line but it didn’t and we kept going.”
But Fisher grabbed an equaliser with their first real chance of the second half in the 80th minute.
Referee Phillip Dunkley harshly penalised Georhge Batten for fouling Trey Williams although the ball was won and a free-kick 22-yards from goal was awarded to Fisher.
Hussein stepped up and stroked his left-footed free-kick over the four man wall, the ball dipping to kiss the top of the far post and going in.
You will not see two better free-kicks in a game all season. Both were pure quality.
Abbott hailed the strike, by saying, “I thought his second goal was better than the first one. I’m thinking he’s going near post on the left-hand side of the goal but he hasn’t, he’s actually put it in the other side, in off the post and when it does that I think it just makes it look better.”
Batten added: “That’s a fantastic strike again. A little bit disappointed that we gave a free-kick away. You can’t do anything if someone hits something like that. It’s gone against the far post and gone in. Two of the goals we’ve conceded you wouldn’t concede them every week at this level.”
Despite producing heroic saves to keep Fisher in the game, Wadman was at fault for Sheppey United’s winning goal, timed at 39:27.
Atkins’s pass released Friend down the right channel and Wadman sprinted outside his penalty area and failed to clear his lines. Friend maintained his composure to whip in a cross-come-shot towards the near post but Bradshaw nodded the ball over the line from close range to score his hat-trick.
Batten said: “That was a great move. We played three up. Normally we play a 4-4-2 side. We played 4-3-3 tonight but the forwards were very intelligent tonight. They got wide as well and gave us some width and he played them in and that comes in the minute and give us some width. “
Abbott said: “Looking at that, he’s got to be offside surely? The striker’s on the line, that’s got to be offside, sorry. It wasn’t given.
“It’s a split second from Rick, those are the sort of things he’s got to learn as well, when to come and when to stay. I think if he stays then they don’t score and we go into extra-time but he’s made a decision. They’ve scored and we just have to move on now. That’s history. We’ll work on things at training on Thursday and look forward to (league leaders) Ashford coming here on Saturday.”
Atkins drilled his shot over the crossbar for Sheppey United, before Fisher missed a glorious chance to take the game into extra-time when Trey Williams drove his shot just past the foot of the left-hand post from 20-yards, after showing desire to win the ball off Olunalaiya, the Sheppey United right-back.
Abbott said: “He’s a good player in and around the box. He didn’t start the game very well. He gave the ball away a lot but that’s not him. Once he got his goal his confidence was back again and half the time he had three players around him as well so it was hard for him, but he’s got that little bit of quality and we know he’s going to score goals. He’s got 12 already for us, hopefully we can keep him and he continues to score for us.”
Batten added: “He’s (Williams) a dangerous player. He twisted and turned on the edge of the box and they had a shot and it could’ve gone in and just went the wrong side of the post for them.
“It was nice to have a break in the league and I’m pleased that we’ve got through and hopefully we can now go on and go further in this competition and have a chance getting to the final.
“Every game we play has lashings of excitement, lashings of goals so I don’t want to take that away from the team. That always been me, I like to entertain but to be successful we do need to improve defensively.”
Fisher: Ricky Wadman, Alfie Roche, Veejay Miller, Isa Hussein, George Booker, Alhsjie Jabbie, Tyrell McLeod-Bentley, Joel Mensah, Kieron McMahon, Trey Williams, Joseph Adesina.
Subs: Mickandress Mackandgou, Antwon McKenzie, Dwayne Agyemang, Reece Taylor, Ediz Hoca
Goals: Trey Williams 32, Isa Hussein 39, 80
Booked: Joel Mensah 89, Isa Hussein 89
Sheppey United: Tom Wellham, Marvin Olundalaiya, Joseph Fornah, Aaron Williams (Carl Harrold 78), Rob Saunders, James Huggins, Timmy Babbington, Lee Friend, Richard Atkins, George Batten, Dan Bradshaw.
Subs: Enoch Adjei, Karn Miller-Neave, Ross Pagett, Matthew Gething
Goals: Lee Friend 18, Dan Bradshaw 26, 58, 85
Booked: George Batten 79
Referee: Mr Phillip Dunkley (Nunhead, London SE15)
Assistants: Mr Stephen Rowden (Eltham, London SE9) & Mr Billy Woods (Bexleyheath)
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