Erith Town 2-3 Fisher - It was just a relief to get the three points, admits Fisher boss Gary Abbott

Friday 02nd September 2016
Erith Town 2 – 3 Fisher
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 02/09/2016 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Friday 2nd September 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

FISHER manager Gary Abbott says there was a relief in the changing room after winning their first game of the season at the fifth attempt.

Fisher’s travelling 12 supporters once again watched their side race into a 3-0 lead at the break, courtesy of goals from Joel Mensah, Trey Williams and Scott Wason but bottom-of-the-table Erith Town grabbed two goals inside the final 18 minutes through Jack Mahon (penalty) and Lamin Bah to make it an exciting climax in Crayford.

The hosts, who are jointly-managed by Ian Jenkins and Ricky Bennett, remain rooted to the foot of the Southern Counties East Football League table with one point from five games, while tonight’s win sees Fisher rise four places to 12th on 6 points.

“It was hard fought,” said Abbott, during the post-match press conference.

“We seem to be like a 45 minute, 50 minute side at the moment. We’re coming out of the blocks – we were 3-0 up against Corinthian and they came back to three-all - and to be fair I thought it was going to be a repeat of that game.

“Going forward we’re going to score goals – I know that – I’ve got no doubt my team going forward will score goals but I just have to tighten us up at the back to be honest with you.

“I know I need some experience in there. When you’ve got no budget and there’s nothing at all for anyone it’s hard to get those experienced players in.  It’s not for the want of trying. I’ve tried to get players in and there isn’t even expenses so I’ve got boys that just want to play football, which is what I’ve got to get but I’ve got to get some experience in there but it’s so hard at the moment.

“I’ve had to change the side tonight because of injuries on Monday. I haven’t had the same side since the first game!

“Our football, I know we can play football. I think we’ve proved that against Corinthian and we proved that first half tonight.  If we win 4-3 every week I’ll take that all day!

“We want to be forward thinking, all day. Our training’s is just get forward, get forward, get forward, moving the ball quick, creating chances. Hopefully we’ll take that on the pitch like we have done. We’ve just got to stop the ball going in our net at the other end!”

Jenkins and Bennett both declined to comment so they put coach Warren Carver out to speak to the press.

“Not good from our point of view,” he said.  “First 15 minutes we were good, after that we got sloppy for the first goal, then we conceded two more. The game at 3-0 down is always an uphill struggle.

“It took us far too long to get going second half and when we did we scored two goals and after scoring that we took the foot of the gas and we ain’t going to score from then are we?”

Erith Town were keen to get Monday’s 6-0 defeat at surprise league leaders Croydon out of their system and started the game on the front foot.

Abbott said: “We knew that would happen. You go on about they lost 6-0 the other day but that doesn’t mean a thing in this league!  I think sometimes it’s the worst time to play them and we knew they would come at us.

“I never play three at the back. I had to go three at the back purely because I had two injuries on Monday. I’ve played 4-4-2 the last three games and it worked for us.”

They almost scored straight from kick-off, visiting keeper Ricky Wadman catching the ball with only three seconds on the clock, as the Dockers set the tempo straight from the off.

Lordway Gbehiri swept the ball out to left-back Bradley Simms, who played the ball inside to Bah and James Coppins and Chris Michael linked up well in midfield for Mahon’s chip to be comfortably caught by Wadman.

Erith Town got in behind Fisher’s back three in the ninth minute when striker Mahon cut inside and played the ball to Bah, who got in behind Veejay Miller to cut the ball back for Mahon’s left-footed chip to sail over the bar from 15-yards.

But when you’re down at the bottom, luck goes against you, and Erith Town gifted Fisher the lead with 13 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

A clearance from debutant goalkeeper Tom Seldon hit Coppins, the ball spun back and Mensah nipped in to slot his shot into the bottom left-hand corner of an empty net.

Carver said: “For 15 minutes we were good, we played them off the park. As soon as we made that mistake it went downhill from there but the first 15 minutes we couldn’t fault them. They done what we asked them to do, got in behind, had a few shots. Jack with his chance, if we score that it’s a different story, we go on and win that game!”

Reflecting on Fisher’s gift, Carver added: “We encourage them to play from the back, it’s just one of those things. We got caught out, a bad pass from the keeper, a bad pass back to be fair to him, he scored it. 

“We was looking for a reaction – we didn’t get it! We wanted senior players’ in the team to get hold of the game and we didn’t!

“It happened last week against Croydon. We just went to pot, didn’t know what to do, didn’t know if we were coming or going but (I felt) how many is it going to be?”

Abbott said: “That’s frustrating as well because I know Jenko and I know how he plays and I know he wants his boys to play out from the back, same as I do. 

“If it wasn’t for me shouting at Joel ‘to go and press’ we wouldn’t have scored that goal so it’s not got to come from me all the time. The boys know how we were setting out to press them high and we never done that for the first 15 minutes and that really annoyed me and it had to come from the manager to go ‘you’ll win that’, and we get our first goal from it and then we still stopped doing it in the second half so we’ve got to sort that out in training.”

Erith Town went route on in search of a swift equaliser.

Seldon’s big kick released striker Lee Friend down the right channel and he cut inside and powered a dipping right-footed drive over the crossbar.

Fisher were to be denied a second goal at the halfway mark when Trey Williams threaded a deflected low, short pass to his strike partner Wason, whose low right-footed shot on the turn was saved by Seldon, diving low to his left.

Carver said: “Very good save, he’s a very good shot stopper. It was his first game for us today, we’ve asked a lot of him. He’s only played for us once so he’s done well.  He’s pulled off a good save, it was a good shot and from a good position to be fair to the fella.”

Fisher were playing a direct style of football and both sides were guilty of giving the ball away.

Erith Town midfielder Chris Michael rolled the ball back to Nico James, the right-back playing the ball inside to Coppins who set up Michael, who cut inside and hit his left-footed drive flashing past the foot of the right-hand post.

James launched a long throw into the Fisher penalty area for Lee Coburn to come up from the back to head downwards into Wadman’s arms for a comfortable collection.

But Erith Town’s two right-sided defenders, full-back James and central defender Jack Lodge, certainly need to tighten up as all three of Fisher’s goals came from their side of the pitch.

Fisher doubled their lead, the goal timed at 38 minutes and 43 seconds.

Referee Paul Agboola played advantage and Fisher finished off the move in clinical fashion with Williams’ fourth goal of the season.

Lightening quick Joseph Adesina played a lovely ball in behind to put Williams through on goal and he curled a beautiful shot around the keeper to find the far corner from 15-yards.

“Joseph has just got in the side, he’ll roast any defender, I think you could see that in the second half.  He needs to work on his left foot,” said Abbott.

“Trey is an ex QPR player. I know if we can keep hold of him, which is another side of the thing, is keeping hold of your best players.  I’ve already said Trey will score 25 goals for me and if the midfield can chip in with 10 and the defenders three or four, we’ll be up there.”

So how far can Abbott take Fisher in his and the club’s first season back in Rotherhithe?

“I’m looking for a top five finish to be honest with you. I’m not here just to stay in the league. I want to finish as high as we can.  Obviously, we’ll try to win it, but every manager is going to say it, but I truly believe what we’ve got in the changing room is a team that’s going to play good football, attacking football but we just have to cut out the chances at the other end.”

Carver admitted: “It was a good goal, put it on the corner. We were sloppy letting him through, trying to play offside. We lost it on the left hand side of midfield and if we don’t lose it there they don’t score that goal.”

Fisher seemingly killed the game off by scoring a third goal in the 43rd minute.

Player-coach-captain Isa Hussein played Wason in behind Lodge and Coburn and the tall striker slotted a weak shot across the keeper, the ball nestling inside the bottom far corner of the net via a deflection.

Abbott said: “Scott’s not 100% fit either, he’s a big lump up there but he knows he needs to get a little bit sharper. The goal he put away was a good goal and he’ll only get stronger.”

Carver added: “We were on the back foot then, wasn’t we? Everything’s going through your had then.  We didn’t know if we were coming or going, our shape was wrong. It was a sloppy goal to give away, 3-0 down at half-time.”

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the break, with Fisher in cruise control.

Carver said: “Nothing! What can you say 3-0 down at half-time?! Just a bit of character and we asked them for their character, told them where they ‘ve gone wrong. We wanted a bit more belief and more character and it’s up to them to grow a pair and get in this game because we couldn’t do nothing from the side!”

Abbott added: “What was said at half-time? Was just carry on doing the same thing, exactly what we did at Corinthian.  It’s like a repeat of the Corinthian game. We were 3-0 up, keep doing it, keep pressing but when you stop pressing and you let them get out it gives them a bit of confidence which is what we didn’t do.”

Erith Town were facing a mountain to climb, but they wasted a great chance to kick-start their recovery after only 19 seconds into the second half.

James released Friend with a long ball down the line and the former Farnborough Old Boys Guild striker cut inside to lash his drive over the crossbar.

Sloppy Seldon picked up a swept back-pass from Michael but all Fisher could do was smash the resulting free-kick into the wall,  taken by central midfielder Hussein.

Friend missed a great headed chance in the 51st minute, meeting Bah’s floated cross from the right with a downward header which went past the foot of the near post.

Adesina will not be staying at Fisher for too long if he carried on terrorising fiull-backs with his pace.

He floated in a cross from the left flank but Wason failed to keep his volley down, the ball sailing over the crossbar.

Adesina then picked the ball up on the half-way line, sped down the left channel, cut into the penalty area but all that was lacking was the finish, scuffing his low shot into Seldon’s hands at his near post.

Abbott said: “Joe’s only just got into the starting XI on Monday. We know what he's about, he’s got so much pace and he’s got quick feet.  You saw that in the second half but he just needs to work on that final ball, but then we can always put him on the right-hand side and I’m sure he will do a job on the other side with Tyrell (McLeod-Bentley) this side so that’s not a problem.”

Friend tore off his shirt in a sign of frustration when he was replaced by Liam Donaldson in the 69th minute – suffering a bad night in front of goal.

Carver said: “If he pulls that across goal that’s 3-1! Just a wrong decision that’s our mistakes this year, wrong decision at the wrong time.”

Friend was played in behind by Coppins but dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post, before three orange shirted Fisher players swarmed around him as he tried to turn the ball in from inside the penalty area.

But Erith Town pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute when Dockers sub Liam Donaldson was fouled by Luke Haidarovic on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Mahon stepped up and hit his right-footed penalty into the left-hand corner, despite Wadman diving to his right and getting a hand to the ball.

The goal lifted Carver’s spirits.

“We were always going to turn it around,” he said.  “We was always in it. It doesn’t matter the score, we were always in it. It’s just scoring those chances. If we put those chances away, we don’t lose that!

“Not the best penalty but we’ll take anything when we can.  Liam done right, got his body between the player and the ball. Their player’s gone in recklessly and he's taken him out so he’s done well to slot it away so we’ll take that!”

Abbott added: “I’ve just spoken to another ref and he’s said it was a penalty all day.  I suppose he was right on top. Our player tried to get in front of it and he’s been pushed out and then you’re under the cosh.  It’s just naturally happens that you drop off then they go four up front, so I go four at the back.”

Erith Town finished the game on the front foot as they went in search of putting doubt into the Fisher players after throwing away two big leads previously.

Bradley Simms floated in a quality cross from the left and substitute winger Larry McKenzie-Atetumo ghosted in at the far post to hook his shot agonisingly over the crossbar.

Fisher keeper Wadman dived quick and low to his left to turn McKenzie-Atetumo’s chest and volley around his near post, as the ball seemed destined to nestle inside the near corner.

Erith Town’s efforts were rewarded with a second goal, timed at 40:57, a quality finish from Bah.

Simms found himself in acres of space down the left channel so he cut the ball back for Bah, who curled a beautiful shot around the flat-footed keeper into the far corner from 25-yards.

“Brilliant shot from Lamin. He didn’t have the best first half but he came alive second half and done what we asked him to do,” said Carver.

“He took his chance well, a good shot and that’s when we got on the back foot then.

“We said at half-time, if we get one well get back in this.  I thought when we did get that second goal we didn’t press them much. We started making mistakes again like we did when we were 3-0 down. We could’ve put them under pressure. I thought we could’ve nicked it.  It’s just half an inch wasn’t it, whether we was going to do it or not.”

Abbott said: “I’ve got to hold my hands up, if someone scores a brilliant goal against you, you’ve got to hold your hands up and say what a great goal!

“He’s cut in, a great strike! It looked like it was going wide. It was like slow motion, even the keeper didn’t dive. A great finish. I know Lamin as well, I had him at Cray Wanderers. I know what he can do. He’s a good player on his day.

“But we held on! There were a few little things going on in the six-yard box but it was just nice to hear that final whistle and get our first three points and move us up the table.

“Over the 90 minutes we probably deserved it. It was a relief in the changing room that we actually got our first three points so hopefully that will take us in good stead for our trip to AFC Croydon Athletic next Wednesday.”

Erith Town are scheduled to travel to Sevenoaks Town next Wednesday, while Fisher are on the road to AFC Croydon Athletic.

Sevenoaks travel to Ryman League Division One South side Lewes tomorrow in The FA Cup First Qualifying Round and Andy Constable was in the crowd here tonight spying on the Dockers.

Carver admits to not believing his side’s precarious position at the foot of the table at this early stage.

“Not the best – we’ve had two or three games where we’ve been in it. We played well against Ashford, against Tunbridge Wells we got the point from. There’s only been the Croydon and Lordswood games that we haven’t played well in. 

“We’ve been playing well. We’re a new team together and it is coming, it will come. Just we have to cut out those mistakes – we’re not bottom of the league!

“Sevenoaks will be a hard game but we’re good enough to play any team. We’ve got a lot of youngsters in there but they’re good players. We’ll start again, we’re training Monday and we’ll go again, it’s the only thing we can do.

“Yes, it’s a bad start, a hard start. I know that we’re bottom of the league but we’re comfortable we’ll climb that table, easily. It’s just we’re a new team thrown together, we’re in a new club, it’s just cutting out mistakes, that is it.  All the goals we’ve conceded this year apart from one we’re mistakes.”

Abbott added his thoughts on Fisher’s next game.

“I think that win today will breed a lot of confidence into the boys. We’re going to train on Monday night and we’ll sort out a few things.  I’ve got a couple of suspensions as well so I’ve got to change the team again.  We’ll just get on with it and we’ll go into every team whether it’s home or away and attack and if we can get 3-0 up at half-time every game I’ll take that all day – but stop them going in at the other end, please!”

Erith Town: Tom Seldon, Nico James, Bradley Simms, Chris Michael, Jack Lodge, Lee Coburn, Lordway Gbehiri (Larry McKenzie-Atetumo 75), James Coppins, Jack Mahon, Lee Friend (Liam Donaldson 69), Lamin Bah.
Subs: James Packer, Marcus Adu-Nyanko, Harry White

Goals: Jack Mahon 72 (penalty), Lamin Bah 86

Booked: Lamin Bah 55

Fisher: Ricky Wadman, Jamie Taylor (Darius Izukanne 79), Veejay Miller, Alhajie Jabbie, Luke Haidarovic, Joel Mensah, Tyrell McLeod-Bentley, Isa Hussein, Scott Wason, Trey Williams, Joseph Adesina.
Subs: Alfie Roche, John Ufuah, Troy Abbey, Frazer Thorne

Goals: Joel Mensah 14, Trey Williams 39, Scott Wason 43

Booked: Darius Izukanne 90

Attendance: 75
Referee: Mr Paul Agboola (Elephant & Castle, London SE17)
Assistants: Mr Jamie Eacott (Walderslade) & Mr Matthew Sell (Rochester)

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