Erith Town 5-2 Fisher - I think we turned up with the wrong mentality and the wrong attitude and we thought Fisher were going to roll over and die and they didn't, admits play-off chasing Erith Town boss Adam Woodward

Tuesday 05th March 2024
Erith Town 5 – 2 Fisher
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 05/03/2024 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Tuesday 5 March 2024
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

ERITH TOWN manager Adam Woodward admits his players’ turned up with the wrong attitude as they secured a flattering  5-2 victory over Fisher to grab a place back in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division play-off zone.


The Dockers are now in fifth-place in the table with 53 points (16 wins, five draws and seven defeats) from their 28 of 40 league games but they found 12th  placed Fisher (38 points, 11 wins, five draws and 15 defeats) a tough nut to crack at Bayliss Avenue.

Darnelle Bailey-King, 26, who made a couple of appearances for Rotherham United in the second-tier earlier in his career, gave Fisher the lead, before Erith Town striker Harry Taylor headed in an equaliser following a corner.

Right-winger Bailey-King notched his second goal after only 64 seconds into the second half to give Fisher the lead for the second time but a sublime finish from winger-turned striker Jake Lovell got Erith Town out of jail.

Taylor tapped in his 25th goal of the season to give Erith Town the lead with 11 minutes remaining, before James Dyer notched his 24th goal of the season with an emphatic penalty, before centre-half Calum McGeehan came off the bench to add a flattering late fifth.

“I think that flattered us a little bit but it’s about winning games of football and we won and that’s the main thing,” admitted Woodward, who has guided the club to the Kent Senior Trophy and Challenge Cup Finals.

“I thought we was good for the first 10 minutes but Harry Taylor had a good chance and the goalie pulled a good save off.  I don’t think we got going after that. I felt we was flat, we was lacklustre. We didn’t keep the ball.

“As excuses, we’ve got a few players’ missing but I made a late change because Jamie Miller felt his hamstring in the warm-up, so I brought Ryan Mahal back in and changed the back four round and I’m big enough to admit when I made a mistake as manager. 

“I think we looked very comfortable in the last few weeks with a back four and we made a little change in there, which shouldn’t be a massive change.   Ryan Mahal is a big, experienced plyer.  I don’t think he’s done anything right.  I just think the whole team looked a little bit deep. It was a little bit flat and the back four wasn’t really picking up the second balls and we changed that.”

Fisher manager Ajay Ashanike has lost four of his five games since his return from Basildon United – but they should have claimed at least a point tonight.

“Really gutting, really, really gutting.  The scoreline didn’t really reflect on the performance from the boys tonight, so we’ll take it on the chin and we move on to the next one.

“The goals were really poor, really, really poor goals. We let in some stupid goals.  The kid should be saving them.  We just have to dust ourselves off and go again.

“I didn’t know how hard it was going to be but now I know how hard it’s going to be to come back and try to reshape the squad again and start afresh again.

“It’s really good see the youngsters come on today and do really well again, so that’s a positive I take away from it.”

Fisher were without trio Charles Yiadom-Konadu, Billy Brown and Tyron Mbuenimo (all ankle injuries), while the Dockers lost Jamie Miller (hamstring) during the warm-up and striker Louie Clarke (ACL) – who scored 33 goals for league rivals Rusthall last season - is still awaiting to make his debut.

Fisher left-back Callum Flynn delivered some excellent set-piece deliveries with his left-foot during the game, arrowing a free-kick across the keeper and past the top of the far post from a yard outside the penalty area on the right hand side after 136 seconds.

Flynn then swung in his side’s first of seven corners towards the back post but centre-half Prince Imoru stabbed the ball past the foot of the far post from a tight angle, before Erith Town started to take control.

Taylor spun Fisher debutant Lloyd Prezmecky-White before cutting onto his left-foot and cracking a 25-yard drive, which saw Fisher goalkeeper Muhammed Otuyo raise both of his arms above his head and almost allowed the ball to slip through his fingers before gathering the ball as it bounced behind him.

Nathan Tshola escaped with a yellow card for a bad foul on Erith Town’s right-back Tom Ash and the home side went close to grabbing an eighth minute lead from the resulting set-piece.

Dyer dinked the ball into the box and holding midfielder George Goodwin guided his free header across the keeper and just past the far post from 15-yards.

The Fisher goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant save to thwart Erith Town shortly afterwards.

Left-winger Lovell played in Taylor, who cut into the penalty area before stroking a right-footed angled drive towards the bottom far corner, only for Otuyo to swiftly get down low to his left and use a strong left hand to push the ball around the post for the first of 12 corners.

“Harry Taylor is a good player and if you give him a yard in the box he will strike it and Mo’s done really well to pull off a good save there.  He’s done really well, he’s done really well there,” said Ashanike, who operates without a playing budget.

Fisher weathered the storm, however, and were to be denied the lead by a good save from home goalkeeper MacKenzie Foley at the half way point.

Flynn’s in-swinging corner from the right was swung in towards the keeper’s throat, using his right-hand to push the ball onto the top of the crossbar and behind for another flag-kick.

“It’s something we work on really well in training and we speak about it highly but we still haven’t scored from it, so we need to do better with it,” admitted the Fisher boss.

Fisher produced a well-worked move to take the lead with 24 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

Nathan Tshola played the ball in from the left and Bailey-King played a give-and-go with big targetman Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba before drilling a right-footed angled drive across Foley from 12-yards, striking the base of the far post before nestling inside the back of the net.

“That’s his quality, that’s Darnelle Bailey-King’s quality.  Absolute good player. He’s played in the Championship and I’m not talking about the Micky Mouse Championship. He’s played in the real Championship,” said Ashanike.

“We’re very lucky to have him at the club but we need a performance like that every week. We don’t get it enough.  He’s got two goals in a big game and I believe I can push him on to the next level.”

Woodward said he was impressed with Amgbaduba, who got through shirt number nine, eight and 20 during the game, as his head was bandaged after a bang to the head following a set-piece.

“Do you know what, he was a handful. We couldn’t handle him, JJ (Jerome Jayaguru) or Ryan Mahal couldn’t handle him, pure and simple.  He’s a good player, very good and the two centre-halves, I don’t think they won a header against him in the first half.  I think he bullied us and he was really, really good.”

Prezmecky-White released Sam Sene-Richardson, whose right-footed drive from 25-yard deflected past the far post and Ashanike was impressed with Prezmecky-White’s debut.

The recording artist, who goes under the name Lloyd P-White, made a big hit in Ashanike’s eyes tonight.

“Lloyd has been training with us from the start of the season. He’s just been chipping away but due to his music and his business he can’t really commit really well but the last few weeks since I’ve come back, he’s been at training every week and he’s been committed and banging on the door.

“I think he’s taken his chance really well. I don’t think he put a foot wrong today, apart from his fitness, his match fitness.  I think he was really, really good in the middle of the park. He was different to something that we’re used to in this club so he’s a big person to watch out for in the future.”

Brown, who gave away the penalty, is a gamer and has a large social media following.

Ashanike added: “We’ve got a few in our changing room, we’ve got celebrities in there.”

Fisher were now on the front foot and another fine corner from Flynn was met by Amgbaduba at the near-post and he steered his brave header past the post from 12-yards.

Foley produced a brilliant save to deny Fisher a deserved two-goal lead in the 32nd minute.

Tshola played a low cross in from the left which deflected to Bailey-King, who drilled a low left-footed shot towards goal from 12-yards, which Foley spread himself and used his left-leg to make a big save.

Ashanike said: “That’s a great save! That is an absolutely great save!

“When you’re near the top of the table and fighting for play-offs, you’re going to have class keepers like that and you’re going to have class players like that and that save was absolutely superb!

“He had no right to save it but he’s got the quality that you need to be in the top end of the table and he showed it then.

“That was a massive moment because if we had scored I think we would’ve buried the game. I think their heads would’ve dropped and we would’ve taken the front foot.”

Woodward added: “Fantastic save, fantastic save, that’s what Mackenzie Foley’s about.  If that goes in and we’re 2-0 down, I generally don’t think we win the game. I think we struggle to get back into it.

“What you find with Ajay’s side, once they score goals they very rarely concede. I feared the worse when the man was lining up and Foley’s pulled off an absolute worldy!”

Woodward has brought in former Fisher and Rusthall goalkeeper Tommy Taylor, who has turned down offers from Beckenham Town (bottom of Isthmian League South East Division) and Holmesdale.

“Tommy Taylor’s come in to work alongside Foley,” said Woodward.

“I can’t keep rolling players out. There’s a big turnaround in games in a short space of time. We’ve got to look after everyone. 

“We lost Foley during the season. He’s a big player for us, so we’ve got to make sure we’ve got back-up in all positions, including the goalkeeper.

“Listen, Foley’s my number one.  Tom understands that and he’s got to be patient and wait for his chance.”

Erith Town grabbed an equaliser – against-the-run-of-play with 33 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock - following their third corner of the game.

James Miles’ hanging corner came in from the left, Otuyo flapped at the ball and Taylor steered his header into the near corner from a tight angle at the far post.

“I think that’s against-the-run-of-play as well,” admitted Woodward.

“I don’t think we deserved to be one-all but we were and going in at half-time it was one-all but it was a good finish by H, another goal notched.”

Ashanike added: “Top player, top player! Harry Taylor is someone I’ve known for months and years now. A really good player. We spoke about him in there.  You can’t leave him in the box. He’s a proper player.

“I think there’s still more to come from Harry. I think he can be the highest goalscorer in the division.  He’s a really good player.”

Erith Town almost went into the half-time interval with a flattering 2-1 lead, through direct play.

A big kick from Foley’s left-foot saw Lovell flick his header past Fisher’s right-back Luke Thomas, before cutting across his man to unleash a stinging right-footed drive towards the roof of the net from 18-yards, which was beaten away two-handed by the Fisher keeper.

Ashanike added: “Mo will come up with great saves and then Mo will come out with some stupid goals. With Mo you never know what you’re going to get but when he does pull off a save, they’re great saves. He was really good on that one.”

Erith Town failed to replicate the impressive performance that they put in seven days earlier to end Deal Town’s 21-match unbeaten run here to reach the Challenge Cup Final.

“It was a good save by the goalie.  I think it would’ve been against-the-run-of-play if we come in 2-1 up, so one-all was probably a fair (score) at half-time,” said Woodward.

“I weren’t happy. I said (at half-time) you can’t take all the praise and we were playing a Step Four side (Phoenix Sports in a friendly) on Saturday and we were absolutely phenomenal with not a full-strength side.

“We can’t play like that and then played the way against Deal and basically not turn up against Fisher and think the game was just done.

“I think we turned up with the wrong mentality and the wrong attitude.”

Ashanike added: “More of the same really, more of the same.  Don’t lose our head, make sure we stay tight and compact and keep doing what we’re doing and the goals will come and that’s what we said at half-time.”

Woodward hooked centre-half Ryan Mahal at the interval to bring on Tom Walters, who slotted into central midfielder before moving to right-wing-back, as the Dockers ditched four at the back to three.

Erith Town were facing a mountain to climb when Bailey-King’s counter-attacking goal gave Fisher a deserved 2-1 lead just 64 seconds into the second half.

Tshola hit a 60-yard diagonal pass from left to right and Bailey-King easily shrugged past Erith Town’s left-back James Trueman (who was on a booking) before clinically beating Foley at his near-post, with a low shot with the outside of his left-foot from 15-yards.

“Like I said, after he got his first goal, he’s got his mojo back by scoring goals and it’s something he needs to be doing more off and yes he done well with that finish,” said Ashanike.

“We were targeting him (Trueman) all the way through, showed real character, real strength there to put himself one-v-one with the keeper and slotted really well.”

Woodward said: “I thought he was really good, a handful on the right-hand side.  I think the only way we stopped him was when we kicked him.  No, look, do you know what, to go 2-1 down, we deserved to be 2-1 down.”

Dyer floated a left-footed free-kick into the Fisher penalty area but Taylor’s header from 10-yards was scooped over the crossbar by Otuyo.

Woodward hooked ineffective right-winger Harrison Carnegie and Trueman in the 53rd minute and brought on holding midfielder Aaron Jeffery and left-winger Omotunmise Akanni.

“We changed the shape. We changed personnel. Harrison Carnegie and James Trueman came off. We changed shape a little bit.  Tom Walters came on at half-time for Ryan Mahal.  I thought Tom was really good when he came on. He started centre-midfield, he spent two minutes in there and then we put him right-wing-back and I think Omotunmise Akanni came on and I thought he was really good as well down the left-hand side,” said Woodward.

Dyer floated in a free-kick towards the penalty spot but Taylor’s towering header was straight at the Fisher keeper in the 12th minute.

Miles drilled a 35-yard shot towards the bottom left-hand corner from 35-yards, which was spilt by Otuyo low to his right and assistant referee Jack Heath raised his offside flag to save Dyer’s blushes, having poked his shot past the foot of the left-hand post from a couple of yards.

Woodward’s tactical change for Lovell to partner Taylor up front was the shot in the arm that the Dockers desperately needed as they grabbed an equaliser with 20 minutes and 8 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Jerome Jayaguru hit a long ball out of defence and Lovell won a foot-race with Fisher centre-half Joseph Adewunmi down the left-channel.

Lovell turned his man and cut onto his right-boot before clinically drilling a sublime looping angled drive from 30-yards, which dropped into the bottom far corner for his sixth goal for the club.

“Jake Lovell’s worldly, that’s why we levelled,” said Woodward.

“Jake changed the game. He went up front with Harry Taylor and the pair of them were absolutely exceptional together.  His strike was really, really good and that’s the rub of the green that maybe we needed.

“Once we changed the shape, we did keep them quiet second half after they scored and it was just a matter of time that we was hopefully going to get another one.”

Ashanike said: “That’s a great finish. I think I missed it. I looked back, by the time I looked forward again it was in the back of the net.

“If you give them one yard, they’re a top side, they’re going to punish you.  We’re not playing a mediocre side, they’re a really top side, really top players who have played at this level and won league’s and it showed the quality and all they need to do is give them a yard and they will bury it.

“I thought Lovell done really well. I thought he changed the game when he came from the left and went through the centre.  I think he stretched the game a lot.

“I think it’s the first time that I’ve seen him play but he caused us a lot of problems and he went in to help Harry Taylor out which really, really gave Prince and Joseph a hard time.”

Lovell’s strike seemed to knock the stuffing out of Fisher’s players and the home side dominated the rest of the game.

Jeffery’s through ball put Lovell through on goal and his left-footed shot was blocked by Otuyo, who rushed off his line to make a fine save.

Woodward added: “I thought he was really good, the goalie. He pulled off some really good saves for them and Jake was unlucky with that chance.”

Ash played the ball inside to Dyer, who dragged his left-footed shot past the far post inside the final 20 minutes.

Ashanike handed substitute Jacob Katonia his first Fisher start of the season and after being pressed by Jeffery, Katonia cracked a speculative left-footed drive from 30-yards, which was comfortably saved by Foley.

“It’s good to have baby back. He broke his foot against Holmesdale at the start of last season, played in the cup final with a broken leg just to help us out because we were short of players and damaged it even more. He came back too early this season when I was at Basildon (playing a couple of games) but since then he’s back fully now, so hopefully we can build up his fitness and try to push him on.”

Erith Town looked like the side that would go on to score the next goal and they took a deserved lead with 33 minutes and 52 seconds on the clock.

Dyer released Lovell down the right and after getting past Imoru, it seemed that Lovell took too long inside the box and the chance had gone.

However, Lovell fizzed a low cross across the face of goal towards Akanni, who then put it on the plate for Taylor to tap a first time right-footed shot into the centre of the goal from six-yards.

“We’re starting to see the real Harry Taylor now. We haven’t seen him since he’s been at the football club,” insisted Woodward.

“He’s scoring goals, he’s looking fit and he’s looking sharp and that’s what we’ve missed.

“People forget as well, we’ve still not got Louie Clarke back yet and he’s a massive player for us. He hasn’t kicked a ball since pre-season.

“Listen, we’ve got people like Ollie Milton, whose scoring (17) goals for us.  James Dyer’s scoring goals. James is notching a few now, another goal for Harry, which is good.”

Ashanike added: “It’s decision making in midfield. We tried to pass it and tried to break the line, instead of just going at them and they cut it out.  Even though we lost it on the half-way line, if you’re giving chances to a top side, they’re going to punish you and that’s what they did.   Every single mistake we made today, they punished us.”

Erith Town scored a flattering fourth goal with 38 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock when referee Stuart Beadle pointed to the spot when Fisher substitute Emmanuel Brown was adjudged to have fouled Dyer inside the box.

Keeper Otuyo was booked by the referee for delaying tactics.  Taylor handed the ball to Dyer, who lashed an emphatic left-footed penalty high into the roof of the net, as Otuyo dived low to his left.

Woodward insisted that Dyer is Erith Town’s penalty taker but thought Taylor would grab the ball to try to score his hat-trick.

“To be honest with you, Taylor, he should’ve snatched the ball off him for his hat-trick but James Dyer, listen, he’s mature as a player.  I told him at the start of the season, he’s mature and he’s maturing and he’s doing really well.

“James Dyer is our penalty taker but Harry Taylor’s on two goals. I thought he would’ve snatched it off him but no, fair play to Harry, he’s handed the ball straight over to him.”

Ashanike disagreed with the penalty and was asked whether he would take up refereeing in the future.

“That was never a penalty to me. I don’t care what anyone says, it was never a penalty!  We can watch it over and over, it was never a pen but the referee saw something didn’t from what we seen.

“You’ve got to respect the referee, they’ve got a tough job on their hands but it was never a penalty.”

Could we see Ashanike with a whistle in his hand in the future?

“Never, never, they’ve got a hard job to do. I don’t think I could take the patience that they have from management and players. I don’t have the patience for that, so no.”

Inconsistent Otuyo allowed Dyer’s right-wing corner to almost slip through his fingers as the Fisher goalkeeper recovered to flick the ball over his crossbar, as Erith Town scored a flattering fifth-goal with 42 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock.

Dyer’s corner from the right was headed away by the first defender at the near post and the ball was cleared out of the Fisher penalty area.

Jeffery played the ball back out to the right and Dyer cut inside towards the edge of the box and his left-footed shot was pushed away by the diving Otuyo but the ball fell to McGeehan, who steered his first-time shot into the bottom near corner.

“Listen, Calum’s battled back really hard from An ACL. He played 90 minutes on Saturday. I think tonight was a little bit much for him, so we’ve got to monitor him well.

“He scored Saturday in a friendly and scored the week before and then he’s scored again tonight when he’s come on.

“I thought we was poor, poor attitude. We thought Fisher were going to roll over and die and they didn’t.  That’s a mature performance because we wouldn’t have won that game last year. We would’ve scraped a two-all and it’s positive that we got the win.”

Ashanike said: “I thought the game was already won by then.  We were just chasing everything else now but not much we can do. 

“We’ve just got to take it on the chin and just move on from it and try not to remember this game.  I promise we will be better, we will be better next season.”

Glebe hold the automatic promotion spot, having picked up 66 points from 32 of 40 games.

The play-off places contain Corinthian (62 points from 29 games), Deal Town (61 points from 26 games), Faversham Town (60 points from 31 games) and Erith Town (53 points from 28 games).

Bearsted slip down to sixth-place (53 points from 29 games), Whitstable Town are in seventh-place (51 points from 30 games), while Snodland Town (48 points from 28 games), Punjab United (48 points from 27 games), Lydd Town (47 points from 28 games), Lordswood (46 points from 28 games) and Fisher (38 points from 31 games) are in the top 12.

Woodward takes his side to fourteenth-placed Hollands & Blair (32 points from 30 games) on Saturday.

“That will be tough, very tough. They’ve brought some new players in, have a new manager, so we have to go down there with the right mentality and the right attitude,” said Woodward, whose side collected 74 points from 38 games when they finished in fourth-place last season.

“We’ve got to manage expectations within the club. We’re not going to win every game of football. We’ll have nights or days when it’s not going to go right, so tonight has gone right.

“We’ve got to stay grounded and keep chalking off results, that’s all we can do.

“We’ve set our target. We know what we want points wise. Listen, you’ve got teams there, it could be anyone’s.  You could throw all the names up in the air and they could fall any way.

“I think it’s a great idea to have the play-offs.  We’ve gone into it and we’ve got games in hand but we’ve got to win those games.”

Ashanike, meanwhile, takes his side to play-off chasers Whitstable Town on Saturday.

“I’ve already got a text from Marcel Nimani yesterday night ‘to take it easy on me on Saturday.’

“It doesn’t get easier. We’ve got a run of games.  We’ve got Deal as well this month as well.

“We’ll make sure the young boys are getting good minutes under their belts and go into next season so they know what the battles are like to be challenging for this league or to be part of the top teams in this league.

“I think some of them are waking up to it because I think you saw young Sam Sene-Richardson was really good again today and Teddy Jones came on and done really well, so positive to take away from it.”

Ashanike revealed after their 3-1 home defeat to Lydd Town on 24 February that he is treating the rest of this season as a mini-pre-season.

“I’m happy with that (12th place) especially with what’s happened this season. I fully believe and I definitely know if I didn’t go (to Basildon), we’d not be where we are in the league but to look at the circumstances of what happened to us in the middle of the season.

“We take where we are now. We’ve got enough points so we’re not going to get relegated, so we are more than ok.  It’s disappointing for the fans seeing us not at our best.  This is a mini pre-season for us.”

Erith Town:  Mackenzie Foley, Tom Ash, James Trueman (Omotunmise Akanni 53), George Goodwin, Ryan Mahal (Tom Walters 46), Jerome Jayaguru, Jake Lovell, James Miles (Calum McGeehan 86), Harry Taylor, James Dyer (Sam Smith 89), Harrison Carnegie (Aaron Jeffery 53).

Goals: Harry Taylor 35, 79, Jake Lovell 66, James Dyer 84 (penalty), Calum McGeehan 88

Booked: James Trueman 31

Fisher: Muhammed Otuyo, Luke Thomas, Callum Flynn, Lloyd Prezmecky-White (Teddy Jones 76), Prince Imoru, Joseph Adewunmi, Sam Sene-Richardson (Jacob Katonia 59), Michael Sarpong, Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba (Thomas Ngegba 71), Nathan Tshola (Emmanuel Brown 71), Darnelle Bailey-King.
Sub: Luke With

Goals: Darnelle Bailey-King 25, 47

Booked: Nathan Tshola 7, Michael Sarpong 48, Muhammed Otuyo 84

Attendance: 104
Referee: Mr Stuart Beadle
Assistants: Mr Jack Heath & Mr Christopher Clarke