Fisher 3-2 Bearsted - I've got no pressure from the board because they're not throwing two grand a week at me, says Fisher boss Dean Harrison

Saturday 12th January 2019
Fisher 3 – 2 Bearsted
Location St Paul's Stadium, Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London SE16 6NT
Kickoff 12/01/2019 15:00

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 12 January 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from St Paul’s Stadium

FISHER manager Dean Harrison says there’s no pressure on him or his team during this exciting six-horse title race.

The Fish are enjoying their best ever season since the demise of Fisher Athletic in 2011 and have sat at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table for the past eight weeks.

Harrison admitted he was concerned that his side have given their opponents the lead in their last five games, as David Baranowski drilled in his tenth-goal of the season to give Kevin Stevens’ side the lead.

Fisher struck the woodwork on three occasions during the first half before left-back Ritchie Hamill scored his eighth goal of the season, smashing an emphatic penalty into the top right-hand corner on the stroke of half-time.

Fisher dominated the second half and rattled in further goals from impressive left-winger Trey Small and substitute winger Mathiew Ramsamy, before Bearsted pulled a second goal back right at the death through an own-goal from big Fisher centre-half Daniel Flemming.

“Very pleased with the result.  We thought it would be a tough game, Bearsted are a good side,” said Harrison, following his side’s 11th league win of the season, seven of them being on the 3G pitch at St Paul’s.

“You start to wonder (after hitting the woodwork three times) if it’s going to be your day.  They had a good 10 minute spell.  I didn’t think it was an uneven first half but I thought we shaded it and we couldn’t score for a while.”

Bearsted coach Billy Jones added: “It’s a tough place to come, they’re top of the league. I think they’re expected to win.

“I thought the first 10 minutes were very even and then we grew into the game. We got our goal, which I think we thoroughly deserved and then we get the penalty decision against us right on half-time, which we all felt was soft, obviously they felt it’s not soft and then all off a sudden you go in at one-all and it’s all to play for second half.”

Fisher remain at the summit with 50 points from 23 games and are closely followed by Michael Golding’s Corinthian, who are level on points and with a game in hand.

The next four clubs have financial power as Beckenham Town (49 points but having played one more game than Fisher); Chatham Town (46 points and with two games in hand on Fisher); Sheppey United (41 points and with a game in hand) and Cray Valley have three games in hand and are 10 points behind Fisher.

With Blackburn Rovers’ 2-0 win at Millwall in the Sky Bet Championship kicking off at 17:30, Fisher attracted a crowd of 184 at St Paul’s Stadium for the visit of Bearsted, who slipped down a place into tenth with 31 points from 20 games following their third defeat (in all competitions) on the spin.

Fisher are a threat from set-pieces.  They won the corner-count 9-2 although Fisher had eight of their corners before the interval.

Hamill swung in their first from the left and holding midfielder Pat Geddis made a run to the near post to flick his header onto the top of the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick from eight-yards after only 163 seconds.

“He got in where he should be from the corners. We work on our corners, unfortunately he’s hit the bar there,” said Harrison.

Jones added: “I think we’ve actually defended all of their corners very well in the first half. I know they might’ve had a couple of half-chances but I didn’t see any proper clear-cut chances against us.”

Bearsted created their first opening after five minutes when Baranowski played the ball out to left-winger Lucian Scarlat, whose cross wasn’t properly cleared by the Fisher defence and Constantin Scarlat’s downward header from eight-yards bounced past the near post.

Bearsted central-midfielder Matthew Garner shrugged off Robert Brown and played the ball out wide to right-winger James Bessey-Salbanha, who cut in to the middle to hit his left-footed drive from 25-yards sailing over the Fisher crossbar.

Fisher wasted a glorious chance in the seventh minute.

Robert Brown swept a ball straight through the heart of the Bearsted defence and striker Tunde Aderonmu skipped past advancing goalkeeper Scott Andrews but the angle was too tight and his shot bounced off the foot of the near post from 10-yards out.

Harrison said:  “It was a real tight angle. He did well to get a toe on it, knocked it past the keeper and the angle’s just a bit tight for him.  Tunde was nice and sharp, he’s been out for a bit so he’s looking sharp today.”

Jones added: “Again, it’s a good chance for them. We haven’t defended that properly from their ball over the top, which is how they scored one or two of their goals today.”

Robert Brown, who has scored 13 goals for Fisher from the middle of the park, found himself on the right-hand side of the Bearsted box but hit a speculative right-footed volley sailing harmlessly wide of the far post.

Bearsted’s Baranowski was a threat for Fisher during the first half and he cut inside and floated a shot towards the top far corner, which was plucked out of the air by Fisher keeper Dan Wheeler during a good 10 minute spell from the away side.

“I got a message from Dan this morning at seven o’clock saying he’s been up being sick all night and he wasn’t well at all, could we get our number two in?  We couldn’t because he had something else on, so I had to beg Dan to come in and I thought he was fantastic,” revealed Harrison.

Jones added: “We were growing into the game. I think we had a dodgy 10 minutes when we were a bit nervous maybe and then we were starting to grow into it and started to get our ball players on the ball and we were starting to create stuff and we were looking good at that stage.”

Bearsted hit Fisher on a devastating counter-attack to take the lead with 18 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

Hamill floated in a free-kick from the left which was plucked out of the air by Scott Andrews.

The keeper bowled the ball out to his left-back Cameron Croucher who made yards with the ball at his feet before releasing Bessey-Salbanha down the left. He whipped in a low cross towards the other side of the penalty area and Baranowski low drive was blocked before he buried a low shot past Wheeler from 10-yards.

Jones said: “I think if you look at how well, up to that minute how many corners they had and I felt we defended their corners really well and Scott had good confidence to come and grab it and play quickly.

“It’s a counter-attack that hurt them in the end.  David’s first attempt was going in but it was a great block and fair play to David for sticking it away at the second attempt.

“David’s doing very well (scoring 10 goals for us). He’s in a position where he can create stuff for us as well as score goals for us as well and he deserved his goal today.”

Harrison added: “They hit us on the break there. They’re quick going forward. They’ve got some nice nippy players.  Baranowski and the two wingers (Bessey-Salbanha and Lucian Scarlat) are lively and they just caught us on the break and that’s not very often that happens – but they did.”

When asked about going behind in each of their last five outings, Harrison replied: “Fifth in a row, which is really strange! It’s something we spoke about on Thursday but it’s the fourth game in a row that we’ve come back from 1-0 down to get something out of the game.

“It’s obviously concerning because we addressed it on Thursday and spoke about it and said it needs to stop but what pleases me is the character we’ve got here, that out of four of those games we’ve had three wins and a draw and we’ve only lost one and it shows the resilience we have as a team.”

Bessey-Salbanha cut in from the wing and reached the edge of the Fisher penalty area and his left-footed drive called Wheeler into making a comfortable save.

Fisher struck the woodwork for the third time in the 27th minute, courtesy of another great ball in from Hamill’s free-kick from the halfway line.

Geddis made a great run and from the edge of the box looped his header over the keeper’s left shoulder and watched the ball bounce on to the top of the right-hand post and watched the ball drop behind for a goal-kick.

“We have to get that goal repainted, I think,” quipped Harrison.

“We’ve very dangerous, we work on our corners again on Thursday (at training) and we look dangerous every time.”

Jones added: “I think Scott had that covered. I don’t think we were too worried about that one!”

Bearsted keeper Scott Andrews was called into making a diving save to his right to prevent Fisher from scoring with a sweeping move forward.

Aderonmu brought the ball down and Andrew Mott swept the ball forward which was controlled by Robert Brown’s chest before he fed the ball into Small’s feet and the winger played the ball inside to Robert Brown, whose low right-footed drive from 20-yards was tipped around the post by the diving keeper.

Harrison said:  “We started to link a little bit better and that’s what I wanted the boys to do.  I knew we could get at their back four and our combination play just needed to be a little bit better and a little bit calmer and I thought we’d open them up so I was pleased with that and the keeper made a good save.”

Jones added: “It was a decent save from Scott. He made another one in the second half as well down to his right. Kevin was joking on the side he could’ve caught it but it was a good save.”

Poor defending from Bearsted’s two centre-halves Andrew Foster and Graeme Andrews let in Aderonmu just before half-time.

Mott clipped the ball over the top of the pair to put Aderonmu through but the ball bounced up and Aderonmu smacked the ball over on the half-volley from a central position just a couple of yards inside the box.

Harrison said: “He skied it! I don’t know what happened there, it’s not like Tunde but he got a rush of blood and put it in the park behind the goal.”

Jones said: “Coming here was going to be tough. Kev watched them on Tuesday, we know how direct they play and it was always going to be a handful. We told the two centre-halves to drop off a bit more and if I remember it, it just dropped in the middle of the park where I thought our three (Garner, Rogers and Baranowski) were excellent in there. It just got hooked over and our two centre-halves weren’t on their toes and thankfully he’s put it over and it was a let-off but we should’ve dealt with that better.”

Fisher deservedly scored an equaliser just 35 seconds into stoppage time, courtesy of referee Hossain Tavakkoli pointing to the spot after Foster tripped Aderonmu just outside the six-yard box.

Set-piece specialist Hamill rifled an inch-perfect left-footed penalty high into the top right-hand corner to give the diving keeper no chance.

Harrison said: “It was a lovely pen.  Great character from Tunde because after putting that one over the bar, a lot of players might’ve thought I don’t really want to get in that position again at the minute but he was straight back in there hustling with the centre-halves and he won us the pen.

“Ritchie takes our pens, he can take a free-kick, he’s handy to have,” came Harrison’s reply on his eight-goal left-back.

Jones added: “He took the penalty really well, however, I think the actual penalty is soft! He’s tried to turn and they’ve kind of gone into one another more than anything."

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Harrison said: “Keep doing what you’re doing! We needed to press a little bit higher. They were playing out a little too easily from the keeper, which we weren’t happy about, so we changed that a little bit, got our shape a little bit better from their goal-kicks, pressed a little bit harder and stopped them from doing that.

“Ninety percent of the second half we were camped in their half for a lot of it.  I said just keep working hard, just defend right and we knew that the chances will come.”

Jones said: “We told them to just keep believing, keep playing. I felt we were in the game. We didn’t want to get sucked into their game of just playing long. We wanted to still play our game, which was to play through midfield, play through the lines and I thought we done that quite well.

“In the second half we just didn’t have that final product and they defended very well and caught us on the counter-attack a couple of times and we just couldn’t get back into it from there.”

Bearsted created an opening after only 34 seconds into the second half but the Scarlat brothers failed to take it.

Winger Lucian reached the left by-line before hanging over a cross but striker Constantin’s near-post header sailed harmlessly wide of the target.

Jones said: “I think it was just past the front post and he couldn’t get anything on it and he miss-directed it but it was a good start to the second half.”

Bearsted’s holding midfielder Jonathon Rogers picked up a loose ball in midfield and a poor right-footed drive from 25-yards rolled comfortably into Wheeler’s gloves.

When asked about failing to create during the second half, Jones said: “I think that was our big problem!  We couldn’t get in there when we had good possession of the ball in the final third. Whether it’s that final ball, final cross, final shot, it didn’t quite go for us today.”

Fisher took a while to get going and created a decent opening in the 62nd minute, courtesy of a slick two-man move straight down the heart of the pitch.

Aderonmu picked the ball up inside the centre circle and drove forward before playing the ball into Robert Brown’s feet, who laid the ball off for Aderonmu to drag his shot across the keeper and past the far post when he only had him to beat from the edge of the Bearsted box.

“He just tried to put it across the keeper. He didn’t hit the target but again the combination play, the link-up was good. We started opening them up,” said Harrison.

Fisher winger Small had a great game and he scored a sublime goal to give his side a deserved lead with 18 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

Fisher centre-half Mudiagha Wanogho cleared the ball of defence and the ball was destined to bounce out for a Bearsted throw-in just 10-yards inside the Bearsted half.

Small had other ideas and trapped the ball and spun Bearsted right-back Matthew Weller on the line, sped forward and space opened up as Foster retreated and Small cut inside and curled a sublime shot around the diving keeper to find the bottom far corner from 25-yards.

Graeme Andrews, Andrew Foster or Matthew Weller can't stop Fisher winger Trey Small (number 11) bending a sublime shot into the bottom far corner.
Photo: Alan Coomes

Harrison said: “Frightening! Frightening finish, absolutely, that’s just Trey all over, that’s what he can pull out of the bag. He’s one of those players he could be having a quiet game but you just know at any moment he can pull out quality like that. I thought that was a fantastic finish.

“He’s a good lad, a good lad Trey, a good prospect. He gives you that out ball on the wing. He gives you that little bit of quality when you need it. He’s strong, he’s a good kid and he’ll have a good future.”

Jones said: “I don’t like to say it, but it was a very good finish! The boy has done well to turn Matt and just keep driving.  We tell our boys that once you get a turn in the opposition’s half, just drive at it and it creates something. It just opened up for him and he’s seen that bottom corner and he’s finished it quite well.”

Fisher were now still on the front foot.  Keeper Wheeler launched the ball forward, the ball was flicked on by Aderonmu and Ramsamy laid the ball off to Aderonmu who swept his first time shot towards the bottom far corner from the corner of the box, forcing Scott Andrews to dive to his right to tip the ball around the post for Fisher’s final corner.

Ramsamy’s pace was a threat for Bearsted left-back Cameron Croucher and substitute centre-half Sam Flisher, who came on after Graeme Andrews picked up an adductor injury.

Ramsamy played the ball inside after a run but Aderonmu’s first time drive from 25-yards was poor and sailed over the crossbar.

Fisher deserved their 3-1 lead when it arrived with 41 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

Substitute target-man Kushal Campbell-Palmer held off Foster on the half-way line and played a lovely diagonal 60-yard pass which released Ramsamy, who beat the offside trap, cut into the penalty area to flick his shot past the advancing keeper into the bottom far corner of an open net from 16-yards.

Harrison said: “We knew that at half-time the goal (Hamill’s penalty) was important to go in at one-all and we were back on a level playing field and we knew we were going to be the better side if we worked hard defensively and I don’t think they had the tools to cope with our forward play.

“He’s another good side player Damo, he’s very important to us and pops up with important goals and he did again today.”

Jones added: “It was at that stage we were having a go and we had bodies forward and we were in good possession and gave it away and then a slight counter-attack and the boy has done well to finish it as Scott’s coming out.”

Small linked up well with Hamill inside the penalty area and Small’s low drive brushed off Foster’s legs and the keeper made the save.

The Fisher manager said: “He was unlucky, good link-up play again, which was a lot better in the second half.  A little more composed, the angles were better, we popped it off well.”

Bearsted kept plugging away and they pulled a goal back inside stoppage time, the goal coming three minutes and 37 seconds into time added on.

There were a number of bodies inside the Fisher half when substitute winger Matthew Hathway hit a low shot which was destined to flash past the far post but Flemming stuck out a leg and sent the ball past his flat-footed goalkeeper for an own-goal, which was Fisher’s 22nd league goal conceeded.

Jones said: “I think if you ask Matt he’ll say it was going in the top corner – but I think in the end it’s a fair result.  I think they deserved the win in the end but we’ve got no complaints how we tried to play. I think we need to be cuter in possession, not give it away so cheap and onto the next.

“You’ve got to have a go, you can’t come to the top of the league side and sit back because then you’re liable to another one and I felt the boys gave it all the effort they’ve got.  We’re a very hardworking side.  We’ve just got to keep going.

“We shouldn’t feel bad coming to the top of the league and getting beat 3-2 and still in with a chance. If we got an earlier goal in the second half it might’ve been a bit different.”

Bearsted host fourteenth-placed side Erith Town at Honey Lane on Tuesday night and Jones revealed 16-goal striker Peter Williams is expected to remain on the sidelines as he is “struggling a bit with his knee.”

“It wasn’t right for him to come today so we rested him and left him at home.  We’re not hopeful, too hopeful of him playing on Tuesday, he’s got a very slim chance. It might come around too soon. We’ll have a chat with him and see how he is.”

Harrison added: “It’s a real shame. It just took the cherry of the cake a little bit but I think it was the only shot they had in the second half so I can’t be too disappointed with the boys. These things happen. It’s a deflection, it’s one of those things.

“It was an important win, we needed to win today to stay up there with the rest of the pack. We knew it would be a tough game. We know they’re a decent outfit and we’re very pleased with the result and not only the result, the performance. We needed a good performance today because we were poor on Tuesday against Snodland Town (a 2-1 home win to reach the Quarter-Finals of the Challenge Cup).”

When asked about Fisher being involved in an exciting six-club title race, Harrison replied: “I think it’s the eighth week we’ve been there so no one expected it. Everyone had us down as relegation favourites but we’re doing well, we’re doing alright, we’re enjoying it.

“There’s no pressure on us. I don’t put pressure on the players. Our remit for this year was to stay up and we’ve done that. We’ve tried to enjoy it all along even from the first day there was no pressure on the boys. We just need to give it a go and see what we can do.

“There’s some really good sides in there throwing lots of money at it. I think it’s anyone’s in the top six, I really do. I think it’s a great league this year.

“It’s fun, I’m really enjoying it especially when there’s no pressure on you. I’ve got no pressure from the board because they’re not throwing two grand a week at me so we just enjoy it every week. We train hard, we work on what we need to do and the boys go out and express themselves.”

When asked what it would mean to guide Fisher into the Isthmian League, Harrison replied: “It will be unbelievable wouldn’t it? For the club to be dropped down this many levels when Fisher Athletic had to cease and the fans kept this going and we started it at level five, could you imagine what it would mean to all the people associated with Fisher over the years? It would be amazing!

“It’s a sleeping giant this club. It’s the biggest club in this league. I don’t think there’s any club’s that have been in the Conference and it would be amazing, it would be great. Who knows? There’s a long way to go, we’re not even looking at that.”

Fisher, meanwhile, play their bitter-rivals Beckenham Town here in the Kent Senior Trophy Quarter-Finals next Saturday.

Fisher: Dan Wheeler, Harvey Brinkley (Jamie Brown 48), Ritchie Hamill, Pat Geddis, Mudiagha Wanogho, Daniel Flemming, Chandler Kasai (Mathieu Ramsamy 61), Andrew Mott, Tunde Aderonmu (Kushal Campbell-Palmer 80), Rob Brown, Trey Small.
Subs: Harry Tobin, Jacob Skelly

Goals: Ritchie Hamill 45 (penalty), Trey Small 63, Mathieu Ramsamy 87

Booked: Tunde Aderonmu 40, Trey Small 66, Mathieu Ramsamy 86

Bearsted: Scott Andrews, Matthew Weller, Cameron Croucher, Jonathon Rogers, Graeme Andrews (Sam Flisher 73), Andrew Foster, James Bessey-Salbanha, Matthew Garner, Constantin Scarlat (Ryan Croucher 73), David Baranowski, Lucian Scarlat (Matthew Hathway 83).
Sub: Ryan Golding

Goals: David Baranowski 19, Daniel Flemming 90 (own goal)

Booked: Andrew Foster 45, Ryan Croucher 76

Attendance: 184
Referee: Mr Hossain Tavakkoli (Sydenham, London SE26)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Sanchez (Camberwell, London SE17) & Mr Adam Back (Sidcup)