It will be the biggest night for about ten years, says Fisher boss Billy Walton
The Fish welcome their bitter-rivals Beckenham Town to Champion Hill for the first leg on Wednesday night, before playing the decisive second leg at Eden Park Avenue on 18 March.
“It will be the biggest night for about ten years for them so we’re looking forward to it,” said Walton.
“It will be a big occasion for them (my players) so something to look forward to for once.”
The winners of this two-legged semi-final will play the winner of Corinthian and Erith Town in the showpiece final.
“Put it like this, we’re in a four horse race and we’re the fourth favourites so we’ve got nothing to lose against Beckenham,” said Walton.
“Everyone’s expecting them to beat us so we have to go out there and give it a go.
“I’ve said to the lads’ to strap themselves in, climb aboard and enjoy the ride. It’s something that we’re looking forward to for once.
“It would be lovely to get to the final, but it’s not the be all and end all for us.
“It’s another game. It’ll be great to get to the final. It’s a step in the right direction for us.
“I just want the lads to go out there and play like men, instead of little boys. That’s what I’m going to ask them to do, to man up a little bit.”
Beckenham Town go into the game on the back of an impressive 4-2 win over title-chasing Ashford United at Eden Park Avenue yesterday.
John Fowler’s Whyteleafe defeated Beckenham Town 4-1 at Church Road last Thursday night and are now four points clear at the top of the table.
Ashford United have slipped down to third-place after slipping up yesterday, while Tunbridge Wells leapfrogged into second-place with their 2-0 home win over Woodstock Sports, although Martin Larkin’s side have played two games more than the Leafe.
Walton said: “I watched Beckenham yesterday. I was very impressed with them. They beat Ashford and beat them quite comfortably I thought.
“I’m not going to shy away. It’s going to be extremely difficult for us to get through but you never know in a game of football.
“It’s like a two-legged game. Let’s just go out there and give it a go and see how we get on.”
Fisher have gone on a four match unbeaten run since their 5-0 league defeat at home to Jason Huntley’s side back on the 11 January.
“Since we last played them, when they beat us 5-0 that day, we haven’t lost. We’ve gone on a bit of a run,” said Walton.
“The lads have responded to a team that completely outplayed them, that’s taught them a few lessons about what aggression and team spirit is all about.
“We learnt a lot from that day and we haven’t lost since then. Hopefully the lads have taken that on board and give it a go.”
Fisher attracted their biggest crowd of the season when 150 fans watched Beckenham Town claim the bragging rights and a similar crowd is expected on Wednesday night when the two bitter-rivals lock horns again.
“Personally I don’t know where the rivalry comes from,” said Walton, who has played for both clubs.
“Perhaps you can ask (Beckenham Town secretary) Peter Palmer as he might know where it comes from.
“In my time in football I only ever recall playing for Beckenham against Fisher in a game and Jason Huntley was playing for Fisher that day and me and Peter Palmer were playing for Beckenham so I can’t remember where the rivalry comes from – I’m sure we’ll find out.
“It’s good to have a bit of friendly rivalry and a bit of banter. It’s what makes the game. I love those occasions where there’s a bit of rivalry in sport. You’ve got to have that. If there’s not a rivalry, make it a rivalry. It builds it up a bit, makes it a bit more exciting.”
Walton added: “Talking about our team. We’ve got a fairly young side and they’re learning all the time. If they can put in a performance we’ll do well and we’ll get through, but if they don’t, we’ll get what we deserve.”
Beckenham Town assistant manager Dean Harrison says he wants his club to win two pieces of silverware this season.
Looking forward to the big local derby against Fisher, Harrison said: “Massive local derby. We beat them in the league 5-0. Don’t worry about that. They’ll be up for it!
“They’ll be a changed side. They’ve have the bit between their teeth and want to get revenge.
“That’s a massive semi-final, a big local derby and we’ll look forward to it.”
Becks remain in eleventh-place in the league table and despite their win over Ashford United yesterday, remain 25 points adrift of the leaders.
Beckenham Town are still involved in two cup competitions and they travel to Rede Court Road next Saturday to play Kent Invicta League side Fleet Leisure in the Kent Senior Trophy Sponsored by Spire Alexandra Hospital Semi-Finals.
“It’s no less than the boys’ deserve, to get to both finals and win them both,” said Harrison.
“I think on our day we’re unplayable. I’ll be disappointed if we didn’t win a cup this year. It’s no more than what we deserve as a team and as a squad this year, the way we’ve developed.”
Reflecting on their league campaign, Harrison said: “I’m not overly disappointed because it’s our first season together as a squad. We’ve got a lot of young boys. Our average age can’t be a lot more than 22-23. They’re a young side and they’re learning and developing together.
“A couple of additions in the pre-season – we need to strengthen up in a couple of areas and I think we’ll be very strong.
“We haven’t been out played by a team all year. I think by any team that’s played us by their own admission we just haven’t taken our chances.”
Visit Beckenham Town’s website: www.beckenhamtownfc.co.uk
Visit Fisher’s website: www.fisherfc.co.uk
Fisher v Beckenham Town
Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Semi-Final First Leg
Wednesday 12th March 2014
Kick Off 7:45pm
At Champion Hill Stadium, Dog Kennel Hill, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, London SE22 8BD