Croydon 0-5 Fisher - Apologies first because the performance was nowhere near the level, admits Croydon caretaker boss Chris Brown

Wednesday 10th October 2018
Croydon 0 – 5 Fisher
Location Croydon Sports Arena, Albert Road, South Norwood, London SE25 4QL
Kickoff 10/10/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 10 October 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Croydon Sports Arena

CROYDON caretaker manager Chris Brown issued an apology to supporters following his side’s humiliating home defeat at the hands of their local rivals Fisher.

The Trams remain derailed and without a point at the bottom of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table having lost all of their opening 10 league games – but all is not lost as Rusthall and Tunbridge Wells are immediately above them on four points.

Croydon finished in the top-five in Harry Hudson’s only season in charge of the club before he moved to their Bostik South East Division neighbours Whyteleafe.

Craig Davies took over and lasted 11 games and oversaw just the one victory – a 3-2 after-extra-time replay win at Tunbridge Wells in The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round – losing nine others.

This was Brown’s third game in caretaker charge and his reign has got off to a poor start, having lost to Deal Town (3-1, home), Canterbury City (5-2, away) and losing 5-0 at home to Fisher tonight.

Fisher striker Tunde Aderonmu scored a hat-trick, while centre-half Mudiagha Wanogho and central midfielder Luke Haidarovic both buried headers from corners as Fisher extended their winning run to three games and are now in the top-eight with 19 points in the bag from their opening 10 league outings.

“My thoughts are we didn’t turn up today,” admitted Brown, who is in charge of a Croydon outfit that have got through 44 players already this season.

“Compared to the last two games – I don’t know what that football was out there today – defensively, well fact are facts.  Two games, 10 goals, eight have been from corners so it’s just drill work dealing with set-pieces, that’s a massive part to sort out. Once we stop goals going that way, we can work on goals going the other way.”

Fisher manager Dean Harrison, meanwhile, has done a great job so far on a weekly playing budget of just £300.

“Really pleased with the performance overall, good result and good performance,” said Harrison.

“It’s a tough place to come especially. You don’t want to come to these places -  they’re bottom of the league and take them lightly. They’re a good side. When we played them at home they were a good side. They played good football so we needed to make sure we were focused tonight.”

Fisher set the tone and created their first opening when Haidarovic’s through ball split open the Croydon defence and played wide-man Chandler Kasai through on goal but Croydon keeper Tarell Annakie came out and narrowed the angle at his near post to make a decent save.

Brown admitted: “Tarell was our best player today. He done what he had to do. The bottom line is we have to get our team to work together, try to get the confidence back and get right back to basics.”

Harrison added: “We started positively. We wanted to get off to a good start. I was happy with the start.”

The floodgates didn’t take long to open as Fisher opened the scoring with only six minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Haidarovic tried to thread the ball through a tight Croydon defence and a lucky ricochet fell nicely in Aderonmu’s path and he placed his right-footed shot past a stranded keeper to score from 15-yards.

Harrison said:  “Johnny on the spot Tunde, he’s where he should be. He just gets in the right areas and finishes, so yes good goal.  It settles everyone down and it’s always good to get an early goal.”

Brown, who is an Academy coach at Millwall, added: “When you’re at the bottom of the table every ricochet goes against you. Any other day the ball gets booted down the pitch and nothing happens.”

Croydon should have equalised when Danny O’Rourke’s corner from the left was met by Jamie McGeoghehan, who hooked a left-footed shot on the turn, which he skied high over the Fisher crossbar from 12-yards.

One ray of hope for Croydon was the impressive performance from left-winger Levi Shango and he went close to scoring in the 28th minute.

Tre Daley played the ball out to Shango, who curled a low right-footed shot towards the bottom far corner from the edge of the box, which forced Fisher keeper Dan Wheeler to hold low down to his left to prevent the ball nestling inside the bottom far corner.

“Levi’s consistency is his main thing. If he can do it all the time rather than in spurts, yes, quality player,” came Brown’s reply.

Harrison added: “Good, nice player. I like their wingers. They tried to play with width and their wingers were decent. We needed to keep an eye on their wide play.”

Croydon’s defending from set-pieces was poor and Fisher punished the home side’s zonal marking with 28 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

No Croydon players were marshalling the posts when Ritchie Hamill swung in a corner from the right and Wanogho came up from the back to find a pocket of space to flick his free glancing header across the stranded keeper into the far corner from penalty-spot range.

Harrison said:  “It’s a nice corner, it’s something we work on. Mudiagha did well, nice goal.  It’s a corner that we work on so it’s hard to defend against, so it’s nice when they go in.”

Brown added: “As I said before, we know where our weaknesses are and that’s something we have to work on.

“I’ve seen us perform at 2-0 down and we’ve come back before to make it 2-1 and get that goal and it all changes. It’s all a confidence thing so I wasn’t worried.  I thought we could still do something about it but then they got the third and that was it.”

Croydon’s miserable start to the season suggested the game was over at this point – but Harrison was having none of it!

“Not at all, never, 2-0 is never enough, 3-0 is never enough at this level, you know what it’s like. A team gets one back it’s backs against the wall sometimes and anything can happen.

“We did it against Corinthian this year 3-0 down and came back to three-all in the cup so no, it’s not enough. You have to stay focused, keep your shape and just keep doing the right things.”

Croydon produced a decent move when Malik Nosike played a free-kick out to wide-man Daley, who played right-back Mohammed Dabo on the overlap and he floated over a great cross which was asking for the header to be buried but Nosike planted his far post header over the crossbar from six-yards out.

Brown added: “Again, when you’re down there, things are against you. On another day that ball goes in and it changes the game.”

Fisher were ruthless in front of goal and raced into a commanding three-nil lead with 36 minutes and 26 minutes on the clock.

Robert Brown played a diagonal pass out to Mathieu Ramsamy out on the right and he linked up well with Aderonmu by playing a slick one-two and Ramsamy cut the ball back, Croydon failed to clear their lines when they had a perfect chance to and Adeonmu swept his shot into the back of the net despite keeper Annakie getting his left-hand to the shot.

Harrison said: “They link nicely, they’ve been doing that well the pair of them so they played some nice football in the right areas today.

“Three-nil. I’m happier than two but it’s still not done. We still need to be on it and go in at half-time. We had to make sure the boys came out ready for the second half, ready for the battle.”

“All the goals that went against us, it’s another ball played from wide finished clinically. Nothing more you can say about that. It’s about concentrating defensively as a team,” came Brown’s reply.

Nosike, who played at the top of the diamond behind front-men David Owusu and Daley, dragged his left-footed shot from the edge of the D past the far post.

Croydon lacked any quality in the final third and a promising move saw Nosike tee-up Shango, who failed to keep his shot down from the corner of the penalty area.

Fisher weathered the storm, however, and were to be denied a fourth goal on the stroke of half-time.

Hamill played a fine diagonal pass to pick out Ramsamy, who easily cut into the penalty area and as the angle narrowed in front of him, Croydon were thankful to their goalkeeper for making yet another save at his near post to ensure the ball bounced off him and went behind for a corner.

“He made another good save, the keeper. I thought he was going to score there. It was a fantastic ball, pin-point, and Damo’s in and he just tried to slot it and the keeper did well,” added Harrison.

The Croydon chief demanded more from his players during the second half.

“At half-time it was a matter of ‘let’s show some commitment!’  We have to win some tackles, get some tackles in! The bottom line is we never tackled in the first half!

“When we go forward our play is fine, not a problem. When we’ve got the ball in possession, not a problem. We move the ball around nicely, slowed the game down but it’s the defending of the game that we need to work on.”

Harrison said: “Stay focused! I’m happy with what we’re doing. We adjusted our shape to deal with the danger from the wide areas so we looked at that and our roles and responsibilities, which I thought we got to grips with.

“The first 10 minutes I was a little bit not sure about it and their movement is very good off the ball. I told them just to stay focused and come out second half and do the same things.”

Croydon upped their desire levels during the early exchanges of the second half and midfielder McGeoghegan played the ball into Owusu but the striker placed his left-footed shot past the foot of the left-hand post from 20-yards inside the opening three minutes.

“They’re always gonna when you’re 3-0 down at half-time! They’ve got nothing to lose so we knew they were going to come out brightly so we had to deal with the early pressure,” highlighted the Fisher boss.

Fisher wasted a glorious chance to score when Wanogho’s long ball out of defence wasn’t dealt with by any of three Croydon defenders, who let in Brown but he sliced his 30-yard effort harmlessly wide.

“I don’t know what he did there,” admitted Harrison.

“It came off the side of his foot and he put it wide.  I thought for all the money in the world he was going to score but he missed that one. He had his chance to score.”

Shango cut the ball on to his right foot as he cut in from the left-wing and tried to curl his shot into the top far corner from 30-yards, which Wheeler plucked out of the air to his left to make a comfortable catch.

Fisher killed the game off as a spectacle by scoring their fourth goal with seven minutes and 26 seconds on the clock.

Hamill delivers quality whenever the ball leaves his left-boot and he swung in a free-kick which should have been punched away by Annakie, but the ball bounced off Brown and trickled towards the goal-line and poacher Aderonmu poked the ball over the line to score his hat-trick.

“Tunde poked it home, Tunde poked it home for his hat-trick, 100%.  The boys saw it as well. He poked it home and he had to as well because the defender was right near him. He might’ve cleared it so he had to put it away, it’s what strikers have to do,” said Harrison.

Aderonmu scored 29 goals for Kent Football United last season, one for the Dartford based club this season and has now scored four in his first two games for Fisher.

Harrison, who guided the club back to the Premier Division after finishing their only First Division campaign in third-place last season, said: “He’s a lovely lad and he’s a very good striker. If we had him last year we would’ve won the league last year, 100% He’s the focal point that we were missing last year to put us in that top two or to win the league so he’s been a great signing. He’s great in the dressing room, he’s got a great attitude.”

Brown added: “Again, it goes about the same thing. It could’ve been either of them (that scored). I thought it was a punch but the referee says it’s a goal so I can’t argue with it.

Brown was then asked what he wanted to see from his team.

“Well, let’s not concede any more basically! I wanted to see character, that’s what I want to see from them. They showed it. They started to play. We were still trying to play the way we want to play on the ball but again a defensive lapse and they’re back in.”

Fisher were well-organised, Croydon had plenty of the ball but showed no quality to test Wheeler for the rest of the game.

In fact the crowd of 95 endured nothing happening from the time of the fourth goal until the 33rd minute when Fisher substitute Afilabi Soyemi-Olalade sprung the game back into life.

He picked the ball up on the half-way line, sprinted down the line, cut in towards the by-line before his progress was ended by yet another fine save at his near post by Annakie.

“He’s concentration levels are way up there,” Brown said of Annakie, his savour.

“That’s all I can say. He’s got good concentration levels.  He’s still in the game although there’s not much happening and the game went dead because we had the ball. When we have the ball, it’s not a problem.”

Harrison added: “Fantastic run by the lad and the keeper’s made another good save. I thought he was going to score. He’s another option up front. He hasn’t been getting in the squad because we’ve been blessed with forward players at the minute.  I thought I’d give him a run-out tonight and he’s good, he’s a hard worker.”

When asked about the barren number of second half chances, Harrison explained: “We did this Saturday against K Sports (a 4-1 win on Saturday).  We went 4-0 up and when you go 4-0 up it’s hard to keep playing with that intensity.  You’re kind of thinking when you’re 4-0 up in the second half you’d like to think the game is done. People take their foot of the accelerator a little bit and I think that’s what we did again but we kept our shape well, we defended well and our shape is very good so it was alright, it was pleasing.”

The Croydon keeper was then let down by some more dreadful defending from a set-piece as Fisher wrapped up the scoring in the 79th minute.

Hamill swung in the resulting corner from the left and Haidarovic buried his header at the near post into the bottom near corner.

“Another corner we worked on, we worked on that one last Thursday so happy to see that go in,” said Harrison, who trains his team on the 3G pitch at St Paul’s and is reaping the benefits with their set-pieces on match days.

“We get the full pitch to train on so it’s really beneficial that we can take the boys up one end and work on something and the others can go up the other end and work on something else. It’s a nice thing to have.”

Brown added: “Same thing, near post. We talked about it, put someone near post. They moved them around physically. I just think we need to get stronger at corners. We get bullied and that’s what we need to stop.”

Croydon are next in action when second-from-bottom side Rusthall visit the Arena in the Kent Senior Trophy First Round on Saturday 20 October.

Croydon must bring in some experienced players who can handle life in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division.

“We’ve got to work on it, players coming in, we will be getting players over the next couple of weeks to have a look at,” promised Brown.

“We’ll be training tomorrow and Saturday and we’ll be working on a number of things.

“There hasn’t been any pressure put on me or anything like that (from the club), it’s about doing the job and doing the best I can.

“I believe we’ll get the one win, even one draw, confidence changes so that’s what I’m trying to do. Trying to get that one little glimpse of a win and it will change, I’m sure of that.”

When asked whether he had a message to the fans, Brown replied: “Stick behind the team! Apologise first because the performance was nowhere near the level that you watched the game last week and the week before in terms of football was 10 times better than you watched today. 

“They (my players) weren’t ready for the game. Everything we talked about before the game, we didn’t do it, we just didn’t do it. When you’re down there and you get a goal against you straight away, you’re on the back foot straight away so there’s a lot of work to be done.

“I’m coming to a club where the mixture of youth and older players is not quite right. I need a few other players in there to guide the younger ones and get that right, trying to get that balance and the biggest thing is confidence.  The only way you get confidence is getting a win or a draw. We just have to get together and stick together.”

Fisher face thirteenth-placed Glebe at St Paul’s on Saturday (15:00) before their trip to bitter-rivals Beckenham Town next Wednesday 17 October.

Harrison, who suffered relegation with Fisher last season, doesn’t want Croydon to suffer the same fate next April.

“When you’re down there it’s tough to get yourselves off the bottom. You’re changing managers and personnel and it’s really difficult. Croydon’s a good club and I hope they stay up. I don’t want to see anyone go down because it’s a horrible thing because we’ve been there ourselves so I wish them all the best but there’s a long way to go.  There’s other teams down there so they’re not down there on their own.”

With his side in the top eight and only eight points adrift of leaders Beckenham Town, Harrison said: “Really delighted with the start! Listen, we know everyone was looking at us as being one of the bottom teams. There’s a long way to go but it’s a really good start and we know we’ve got some tough games coming up now. It’s a long season. We’ll see how we go but we’re moving in the right direction and the boys are enjoying it and that’s the main thing. We’ve got a happy dressing room and I think that goes a long way.”

Croydon: Tarell Annakie, Mohammed Dabo, Jordan Eels, Jamie McGeoghegan, Cairo Duhaney-Burton (Ryan McCarthy 46), James Fotheringham, Tre Daley, Danny O’Rourke, David Owusu (Daniel Pepple 80), Malik Nosike, Levi Shango (Novell Bruce 61).
Subs: Bryan Akongo, Nicholas Akoto

Booked: James Fotheringham 11, Ryan McCarthy 84, Danny O’Rourke 85

Fisher: Dan Wheeler, Harvey Brinkley, Ritchie Hamill, Pat Geddis, Mudiagha Wanogho, Harry Tobin, Mathieu Ramsamy, Luke Haidarovic, Tunde Aderonmu (Sam Pekun 66), Robert Brown (Toyo Adeshina 76), Chandler Kasai (Afilibi Soyemi-Olalade 60).
Subs: Tim Moffatt, Martin Begg

Goals: Tunde Aderonmu 7, 37, 54, Mudiagha Wanogho 29, Luke Haidarovic 79

Booked: Luke Haidarovic 35, Sam Pekun 74, Pat Geddis 88

Attendance: 95
Referee: Mr Joe McKay (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Tom Nicholls (Hither Green, London SE13) & Mr Ashley Barnes (Bromley)