K Sports 2-0 Fisher - We've never mentioned once about winning league's, our main goal this year was to get promoted, says K Sports assistant Graham Martin

Tuesday 13th March 2018
K Sports 2 – 0 Fisher
Location Cobdown Sports & Social Club, Station Road, Ditton, Aylesford, Kent ME20 6AU
Kickoff 13/03/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Tuesday 13 March 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Station Road

K SPORTS’ assistant manager Graham Martin says his players’ believe they have won promotion after ending Fisher’s interest in the race.


The Aylesford-based Paperboys leapfrogged over Punjab United to return to the summit of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division after winning a feisty clash.

Talisman Caine Smith chipped in his 29th goal of the season during an uneventful first half.

K Sports wrapped up the victory through David Botterill’s headed goal as Fisher, who were without five players who lost 1-0 at Punjab United at the weekend, failed to produce in a game that they had to win.

K Sports lead the table with 69 points, a point clear of Punjab United, while Fisher remain third on 54 points and the trio all have eight games left.

“It was a big game for us tonight,” said Martin after his side’s 22nd league win of the season.

“Looking at the league table before we went out there, it was one of those games.  From our point of view it was a must-win game. We wanted a distance in between us, which has now nearly, probably secured us promotion.  There’s a couple of games left that are probably banana skins but it was a pleasing performance from minute one. 

“Our keeper hasn’t had a save to make all game.  I just think second half we were a very professional outfit.”

Fisher boss Dean Harrison has seen his side lose three of their last four games and as a result look certain not to bounce back to the Premier Division at the first attempt.

“Not good enough on the night, not strong physically and we didn’t get the ball down and play like we wanted to.  We started well, we started really well,” said Harrison.

Both teams lacked a cutting clinical edge in front of goal as many attempts were off target.

K Sports winger Daniel Stubbs hit a speculative right-footed half-volley towards goal from the right flank, which bounced into Daniel Carpanini’s hands from 35-yards after only 74 seconds in.

Fisher left a gaping hole in their wall and Stubbs’ right-footed chipped free-kick from 25-yards was plucked out of the air by Fisher’s recalled keeper.

K Sports made four fouls, Fisher three, inside the opening 10 minutes as there was no love lost between these two sides.

“It’s always going to be! Second-v-third.  There was quite a lot at stake,” admitted Martin.

“Same as them, we don’t want to be in this league next year.  Our aim from the start of the season was always to get up. 

“There was a lot at stake.  It was a little bit feisty when we drew two-all a few weeks back and it led on from that but at the end of the day that’s how a game of football is with a lot at stake.”

Harrison said: “We were getting kicked a lot!  The ref didn’t get a grip of the game.  He let them get away with a lot and that’s what you’ve got to deal with in this league, weak refereeing!”

Fisher felt they had smashed the stalemate in the 17th minute when left-winger Matthieu Ramsamy was fouled by K Sports’ right-back Jack West.  Referee Andy Butler immediately blew his whistle.  The ball flashed across the penalty area and Kiemon Robinson was denied his maiden goal for the club.

Robert Brown smashed the resulting free-kick over the crossbar from 20-yards.

Harrison fumed: “I didn’t even think it was two seconds when he’s put the ball in the net and if he does call the foul back then West got to go because Damo was through when he’s fouled him so it’s just an absolute shambles!  It’s a straight red, it’s absolutely ridiculous what you’re dealing with every week!”

Martin added: “I actually thought the minute there was contact made the referee blew his whistle. Maybe a mistake from the referee, maybe he should’ve seen where he was at the edge of the box and given him a few seconds but I think once he’s blown his whistle he can’t really go back on it.  I think he made his mind up and he would’ve looked stupid had he changed it.”

With both sides going at each other there was not a lot of football being played – that was until Smith scored a sublime goal, timed at 22 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock.

Keeper Jack Rankin’s long free-kick from midfield was flicked on by Botterill and Smith was played in behind Jack Rogers and Mudiagha Wanogho and from the right-hand corner of the box, chipped the ball over the keeper’s right-shoulder into the bottom far corner.

“We hit it from back to front, a little flick on, Caine done what he does best.  He drops the shoulder and if he gets a chance sometimes God help you,” said Martin.

“He’s had a little bit of a dry spell up to what we call the business end of the season.  With the few goals he got at Kent Football United the other week has set him on his way again, so at the moment he’s notching goals all over the place.”

Harrison added: “He’s a good player, we know he’s a threat in behind and we spoke about that. We didn’t want him in behind! The back line switched off a little bit from the free-kick and he finished it off really well. It was a lovely finish, a good goal.”

K Sports were a threat from free-kicks.  Stubbs’ ball in was half-cleared by the Fisher defence and Botterill’s header back across goal was cut out by Carpanini at his near post.

Paperboys’ left-back Steve Rothery played a long ball which released Alderman down the left, the winger cut into the box and his shot sailed harmlessly over the top of the far post.

And on the stroke of half-time Stubbs flashed a cross-shot across the face of goal and an unmarked Alderman hooked his shot into the keeper’s hands.

A crowd of 101 hoped a game of football would break out in the second half.

“We went in at half-time 1-0 up.  At half-time we really needed to do what K Sports do best, get out there, get in people’s faces, rush people’s tackles and I think it showed second half,” said Martin.

“We were waiting for a chance to come because we were always comfortable letting them play in front of us.  I can’t remember our keeper in 90 minutes making a save, maybe one save that was a cross-shot that he parried but there wasn’t a lot of goal-mouth action throughout the game.

“We set our stall out keeping a clean sheet tonight.  It was literally we stay tight, every man does his job, defenders defend and we go from the back. It was a matter of getting everyone together. 

“We’ve got a very, very good togetherness here whether it’s on or off the pitch.  I think everyone valuates each other and second half tonight, I wouldn’t say it was enterprising but it was a typical K Sports solid performance.

“When you look at this season we’ve taken four points off Fisher and four points off Punjab and out of the four games we’ve conceded two goals!”

Harrison admitted: “I don’t think there was a lot of chances in the game to be fair.  It wasn’t a game of many chances. It was two decent sides sort of cancelling each other out. It was more of a battle.”

Harrison told his players at the break to “try to get the ball down and play because we know their back line on the floor could be got at.  The ball kept going in the air and they kept eating us up. We’re not a big side, especially up front so the centre halves were eating it every time so we needed to get the ball down and try and play.”

Fisher were awarded a free-kick when K Sports keeper Rankin picked up a back pass from West and combative midfielder Harry Draper played a quickly taken free-kick along the floor to Robinson, who tucked the ball into the back of the net from an offside position.

“I don’t understand what goes through players’ heads sometimes! It was just a crazy thing to do, we didn’t create a lot,” added Harrison.

Commanding K Sports central defender Ashley Cooper came up from the back to loop a header into Carpanini’s hands after Stubbs’ drilled shot crashed off brave Fisher defender George Ede.

Referee Andy Butler awarded the home side a penalty in the 55th minute but Fisher’s players contested the decision, claiming Alderman was fouled outside the box.  The referee consulted with assistant Daniel Blade and awarded K Sports a free-kick instead, which Botterill put over the bar.

“I thought I heard the referee say penalty,” claimed Martin.

“Obviously disappointed when it wasn’t given but he’s gone across to the linesman. If the linesman was in a better position than he was, fair play, that’s what it is.

“I’m a little bit unsure of the rules these days because if it was a penalty the goalkeeper or the defender stays on. If not, if he’s outside the box and he’s the last defender they’re down to 10.

“It was one of those things, it was either going to be given or it was not and in this instance he went to contrive the linesman and it wasn’t given so you have to get on with it!”

Harrison added:  “It was outside the box!  The referee gave the penalty. It was clearly outside the box, another crazy decision that everybody could see and pointed straight to the spot!

“It was only when players remonstrated with the linesman, who could see the incident, then to tell the ref what had happened then he changed his mind.  The referee was closer to the linesman, he’s given the penalty. It was ridiculous and fortunately he’s changed his mind. It’s just another mad decision you just can’t believe what you’re watching!”

Stubbs whipped in a quality free-kick from the right for Botterill to rise to loop over the Fisher crossbar in the 63rd minute.

Fisher offered very little in attacking threat and striker Robinson cut the ball onto his left-foot before scooping it over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Fisher gifted Smith a glorious chance to double the home sides’ lead in the final 20 minutes.

Ede sliced his clearance from the edge of the box and Carpanini appeared to be in two-minds whether he could pick up the bouncing ball. Instead he failed to clear his lines and let in Smith, who lashed his left-footed shot over an empty goal from 12-yards.

Martin said: “I expected Caine to put his foot on the ball and tap it over the line rather lash at it.  The way he’s been putting balls in lately, so I’m a bit disappointed.

“We were still 1-0 up at that time and it could’ve been two.  It could’ve been a little bit comfortable.  Caine was very disappointed but he’s run his socks off for the last 20 minutes and he was being pushed and shoved and kicked but that’s what Caine gets every week but he bounced up every time.”

Harrison revealed: “I just said to Daniel why didn’t you just catch it and he said the referee gave the back pass up there and the game the referee was having and he didn’t know what to do.

“Danny had already pulled his quad earlier on kicking the ball so he was struggling to clear it. 

“That’s what happens with the referee, now you’ve got players not knowing what to do, which for me is never, ever a back pass and now my keeper is saying the ref’s so bad he couldn’t take a chance and it causes those sort of problems.”

K Sports sealed a deserved win with 27 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock and inevitably it came from a set-piece.

Stubbs chipped in a free-kick from the left for Botterill to rise to loop his header over the keeper and into the net from 12-yards.

“Ashley Cooper, Richard Butler and David Botterill all win headers from set-pieces, they’re so dangerous and we do expect to score goals from those positions,” said Martin.

“Dan Stubbs needed a big game tonight. We got more out of him tonight than we have had for a few games. I thought he was superb. 

“We decided before the game we were going to take James Alderman off set-pieces because he’s more dangerous in the box than most of the players, he gets goals as well so we put Dan Stubbs on set-pieces and in the 73rd minute it paid off. It was a great free-kick and Botts has got on the end of it.”

Harrison added: “It was a good goal. He got up and rose well and finished it. Whether Daniel maybe could’ve come out and got to it, if he wasn’t injured he might’ve done but I don’t think he was mobile enough. If I had a sub goalkeeper, I would’ve brought him off.”

Both camps agreed that K Sports’ keeper Rankin SHOULD have been sent-off for a professional foul, or whatever they call it nowadays!

Tim Moffatt released Robinson through on goal and only had the keeper to beat.  The Fisher striker skipped past the advancing keeper and was tripped outside the box and the referee pulled out a yellow card.

Substitute Ritchie Hamill, who was dropped tonight, summed up Fisher’s night when he drilled his left-footed free-kick over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Harrison said: “It’s a red card in everyone’s book! Their bench knew it, our bench knew it, everyone watching the game knows it, the keeper knows it! He’s expecting to get a red and I don’t know what to say!

“The level of officiating at Step Six in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division is an absolute disgrace and something needs to be done about it!

“The referee’s refereeing at a decent standard that are nowhere ready to ref at this level and I stand by that and anyone who watched that game tonight will know that referee shouldn’t be anywhere near a game at this level!”

Martin added:  “My thoughts are not very much different than yourself, I thought it was a sending-off!

“I’ll be very disappointed at the other end if they hadn’t been down to 10 men so without saying too much about it, I was surprised it wasn’t a sending-off.

“I think Jack’s a very luck boy and I think he knows he’s a very lucky boy.  I think he’s maybe, in football terms,  taken one for the team but I think he’s very lucky to take one from the team there.”

Rankin was called into action when he dived low to his left to push away Robinson’s curling shot after he was released down the left by Moffatt’s pass.

Harrison said: “I don’t think we were good enough going forward and I don’t think we were Saturday against Punjab either.  We didn’t create a lot, which is unusual for us.

“It was a good strike. He did well tonight Kiemon. He’s lively. He deserved a goal tonight, he was unlucky to have that one scratched off by the ref.

“It was a game of a few chances at both ends and in all honesty we lacked physically when we play these teams.  We’re a lovely footballing side but we seem to lose that physicality.”

“I think he parried a cross shot that in my reckoning it was the only time he saved the ball tonight,” added Martin.

“He did what he had to do all night long.  He kicked well and came out and swept quite well when he was called onto action.  In saying that no keeper was troubled too much tonight.”

Both sides made 16 fouls apiece and K Sports won the corner count 1-0 – the only corner of the game coming inside stoppage time at the end of this battle.

A game that will not live too long in the memory but K Sports and Punjab United are now battling it out for the league title.

“It was nice to see the Punjab boys here tonight,” said Martin, who takes his side to Chatham to play third-from-bottom side Gravesham Borough on Saturday.

“Our main goal and we’ve said it all along this season, we’ve never mentioned once about winning leagues, our main goal this year was to get promoted and the prerogative before tonight’s game was to stretch the lead (on Fisher) from 12 to 15 points.

“We’re pretty confident now, we’re thinking it’s edging a little bit closer, that promotion is just around the corner.

“Are we promoted tonight?  No, I don’t think so. Football’s a funny game.  I suppose in my own head of heads maybe I should but I’m just one of those superstitious people, until it’s mathematically right we won’t shout about it!”

Fisher travel to play Phoenix Sports Reserves on Saturday with promotion now out of their hands and Harrison’s men are only five points clear of fourth-placed Holmesdale, who have a game in hand.

Harrison admitted:  “Top two is a very, very tall ask.  You need something ridiculous to happen. I can’t see Punjab and K Sports dropping points now to anyone but for pride we need to finish third for ourselves, for the club, that’s what we need to do now.”

K Sports: Jack Rankin, Jack West, Steve Rothery, David Botterill (George Snelling 88), Liam Dawson, Ashley Cooper, James Alderman (Bailey Pearce 75), Richard Butler, Caine Smith, Jason Perry, Daniel Stubbs (Matthew Gething 76).
Subs: Ben Clarkson, Rhys Coates

Goals: Caine Smith 23, David Botterill 73

Booked: Liam Dawson 19, Jason Perry 34, Jack Rankin, Caine Smith 90

Fisher: Daniel Carpanini, Harvey Brinkley, Jack Rogers, Tim Moffatt, Mudiagha Wanogho, George Ede, Jamie Brown (Trey Small 71), Harry Draper (Ritchie Hamill 74), Kiemon Robinson, Robert Brown (Calum Crawley 86), Matthieu Ramsamy.
Subs: Jack Bullock, Pat Geddis

Booked: Harry Draper 19, Kiemon Robinson 23, Tim Moffatt 62, Robert Brown 79, Ritchie Hamill 90

Attendance: 101
Referee: Mr Andy Butler (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Blades (Wrotham) & Mr Matt Laing

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