Fisher 2-2 Crowborough Athletic - We're disapointed with a draw away to Fisher on a Monday night, says Crowborough boss Sean Muggeridge

Sunday 13th September 2015
Fisher 2 – 2 Crowborough Athletic
Location Champion Hill Stadium, Dog Kennel Hill, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, London SE22 8BD
Kickoff 14/09/2015 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League
Monday 14th September 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium

CROWBOROUGH ATHLETIC manager Sean Muggeridge says he feels disappointed coming away from Fisher with a point in the bag.

The Crows raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening ten minutes through Josh Biddlecombe’s stunning 35-yard strike, before striker Sam Carrington scored his fifth goal of the season from the penalty spot.

But Fisher showed great character to pull themselves back into the game through Tyrone Guthrie’s tap-in and Quentin Conteh’s header, as all four goals were scored during a whirlwind opening seventeen minutes at Champion Hill.

But this entertaining game was marred by a poor performance from referee Jair Alzate Guzman, who decided against sending three players off during the game.

“I thought first 20 minutes, I think it was even shorter than that, being 2-0 up in ten minutes we did come out of the blocks,” said the Crowborough manager.

“I think we carried on from where we left off on Saturday with the 1-0 win (at home to AFC Croydon Athletic) and then we just switched off again.

“I think we thought it would be too easy! We switched off, made a mistake for the first goal and give credit to them, they pushed us hard second half but we changed it a little bit in the second half.  I thought we was a lot better and we should have won it in the end.”

Fisher boss Dean Harrison, who saw his side thrash Holmesdale 4-1 at Oakley Road at the weekend to move into 12th place in the Southern Counties East Football League table, said: “We killed ourselves first ten minutes and never really, really recovered until they scored their second goal.

“We were the better side by miles, apart from the first 10 minutes where we’ve absolutely murdered ourselves.

“We were the better side. We got in behind them and we haven’t taken our chances. We’ve hit the bar, I think one got cleared off the line. There’s not more than we can do, just one of those nights. We shouldn’t let in two goals!”

Fifteenth-placed Crowborough Athletic created their first opening when left-back James Matthews swung in a free-kick from the right, which deflected into Scott Treleaven’s path and his driven shot was blocked superbly by Gassimu Jalloh.

John Shea swung in the resulting corner from the right and Kevin Everest’s effort looped up and was collected by Fisher keeper Denzil Kobia.

Crowborough Athletic, though, drew first blood by taking the lead with six minutes and 33 seconds into the game.

Biddlecombe produced a beautiful solo goal by picking the ball up halfway, sprinting down the left and cutting inside before unleashing a stunning right-footed dipping drive across the diving Kobia into the top far corner of the goal from 35-yards.

“The thing is with Josh, he’s not an actual left-winger either,” revealed Muggeridge.

“We took a gamble on him out there because we lost Jack Funnell on Saturday with a broken arm but the gamble paid off. 

“He can do that! Josh is just getting back to fitness. He’s very good at shooting from outside the box. That’s why we put him out there. He’ll probably be back up front in a few weeks’ time but now I know he can play out there. It’s a good option now.”

Harrison added: “Absolute screamer, great goal! Not a lot Denzil can do about that fantastic goal!

“But we created our own problems by not starting the right way and not putting the ball in the right areas.”

Crowborough’s dream start saw them double their lead from the penalty spot with nine minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Biddlecombe played the ball into Carrington’s feet, who was brought down by last-defender Robert Curtis, who was sent-off for a professional foul on the opening day of the season at Deal Town.

The crowd of 80 and both managers expected hapless referee Mr Guzman to brandish a red card out of his pocket – but he failed to punish the defender for his sending off offence.

Carrington stepped up and smashed his right-footed penalty straight down the middle to put the East Sussex side in the driving seat.

Muggeridge said: “I think at least a yellow! Some refs would’ve given a red but to be fair it’s swings and roundabouts.  We got the penalty. He might’ve not given anything the referee but at least we got the penalty to go 2-0 up, but I think it’s a sending off!

“Sam’s getting as fit as he can do now. It was a bad injury he had. I think it’s going to take a little bit more time to get absolutely 100% sharper.  Ninety percent is good enough for this league and us anyway and when he gets 100%, he’ll be banging in hat-tricks I think.”

Harrison also admitted that Curtis was lucky to stay on the pitch.

He said: “Quite possibly, in all fairness he could’ve gone there!

“I think he must’ve been last man and didn’t even get booked but I think that was the inconsistency of the referee all night.”

Looking at the scoreline so early on in the game, Harrison revealed his feelings.

“What on earth has happened is going through my mind! How on earth as we 2-0 down?

“But at the same time, we know there was a long way to go and there was no need to panic!  I know I’ve got ability in the side so there wasn’t a panic but I was concerned with the way we went 2-0 down.”

But Fisher’s recovery was instant, scoring their first goal of the game with 13 minutes and 11 seconds on the clock.

Travis Gregory’s first corner from the left failed to clear the first man and Crowborough cleared the ball only as far as Max Rothwell on the edge of the box.  He sensibly played the ball out to Conteh on the right hand side, who drilled his angled shot across the face of goal and Guthrie’s flicked shot nestled inside the bottom left-hand corner.

A pleased Harrison said: “Done well! A good reaction. Fired it in there and someone’s got on the end of it. Great time to score, needed it, needed a reaction.

“We’ve got a good unit in there. We’ve got a good squad. The boys work hard for each other. There’s a nice feeling in the dressing room. There’s no egos. I don’t like egos in my dressing room and they all work hard for each other.”

Muggeridge added: “I mean, we should’ve dealt with it at the front post really. The guy’s tipped it in and bad marking on our account and the blokes just tapped it in.

“We’ve got to change our mentality when we go 2-0 up.

“I was trying to get five in the middle but they wasn’t listening. I couldn’t get it across early enough and then we conceded the second one!”

Shea cracked a right-footed angled drive towards the roof of the net from 20-yards, but Fisher’s keeper rose his right-hand above his head to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Muggeridge said: “These are margins in football unfortunately. They sometimes go in, sometimes they’re tipped over.  I think their keeper had a good game as well. They either go in the top corner like Josh’s or they just get tipped over.  Josh’s was in the corner, John’s was more central and I would expect the keeper to save it really.”

Harrison simply added: “Good save, a great effort and strike by the boy, a good save by Denzil.”

Fisher completed the scoring with 17 and a half minutes on the clock following a Crowborough mistake.

Fisher played it around the back before central defender Gassimu Jalloh hit a long ball straight through the heart of Crowborough’s defence.

A poor back header from Tom Boddy was pounced on by Conteh, who looped his header into the bottom left-hand corner of an empty net.

Harrison said: “Quinny, great header, done really well. Spotted the keeper off his line and got a great connection on it. It was a great goal.”

Muggeridge added: “Again, we didn’t deal with it. Communication wasn’t very good first half but to be fair we haven’t had the same two centre halves all season.

“We had Jason Hollick on Saturday; he couldn’t play tonight because it was Monday night. Sometimes that happens when you’re not gelling at all. Second half they really gelled together the two centre halves and Ryan Hinkson done a lot better job on their 11 (McCleod-Bentley) but that’s his first game in, I don’t know, five or six months, so it’s pleasing we’ve got 90 minutes out of him.”

Fisher’s left-winger Gregory was their best player on the night and he came agonisingly close to giving his side the lead after 26 minutes.

Rothwell released the former Beckenham Town winger down the left and he drilled a rasping left-footed drive crashing off the underside of the crossbar from 25-yards, while the ball was recycled back into the box and Crowborough keeper Callum Hampson used his legs to deny Conteh.

Harrison said: “It was a great shot by Travis. He did ever so well. He gave the full-back’s a torrid time tonight and he was unfortunate. He hit the bar, the underside. I thought it was in!

“I like to play like that. You know the way we played at Beckenham. I like to get width in, I like quick wingers and proper wingers, boys who are going to go at defenders and that’s what we try to create here, attacking football.”

Muggeridge added: “After we went 2-0 up they really did press us and they’ve got some really good players in their side. I think they’ll be quite hard to beat at home. We dug in and second half we were a lot better and I think we should’ve got a win really.”

Crowborough striker Carrington went close when he slid his right-footed shot just past the foot of the right-hand post from 15-yards after latching onto Shea’s pass.

Carrington then charged down an attempted clearance from the Fisher keeper, who spared his blushes by grabbing the ball at the striker’s feet inside his penalty area.

Fisher created the last chance of the first half in the 36th minute.  Rothwell, who was later forced off through a hamstring injury, clipped the ball up to right-winger Tyrell McLeod-Bentley, his angled drive was saved by Hampson at his near post.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at half-time.

Harrison said: “I let them know we didn’t do the right things to start the game and if we did the right things we wouldn’t have been 2-0 down and then chasing the game.

“But at the same time they’ve reacted well as a unit and showed good character to get the game back on level terms.

“We should’ve been ahead. We had to go out second half and do the right things and go and win the game.”

Muggeridge, who guided Crowborough to tenth-place on their Southern Counties East Football League debut last season, added: “Well, I said, I don’t want to be too negative because we played so well in the first 15 minutes.  All I said to them, I told them what went wrong and they had a half to sort it out because actually coming out like a train in the first 10-15 minutes, you can’t really sustain that all the way through the game.

“I was expecting them to go three or four nil up at half-time but you’ve got to give Fisher credit, they pushed us, they could so easily had given up as well, but I think we handed them both goals.”

Fisher started the second half on the front foot and pegged back Crowborough, who called Kobia into making a good save in the 56th minute.

Shea picked up a loose ball inside Fisher’s half before skipping past two defenders and hitting a right-footed angled drive from 25-yards, which forced Kobia to dive low to his left to initially parry and gather at the second attempt.

The Crows manager said: “Shea does that sort of thing. He’s had a little injury so he’s not as sharp as he was but if that had gone in I think we would’ve won four or five.”

Harrison added: “I don’t think they had too many chances. I think towards the end they seemed to get a little bit more momentum last 5-10 minutes but other than that I don’t they did a lot second half. We were the better team by a long way!”

Hampson was called into making a smart diving save on the hour mark, diving low to his right to parry Gregory’s drilled right-footed free-kick from 30-yards, before getting back up to thwart Daniel Lawson’s follow-up shot.

Muggeridge said: “Callum’s been doing really well this year. He went away from us last year; he’s come back a better goalkeeper. He done well with that!”

Ninety-seconds later, Crowborough midfielder Callum Ridley slipped the ball into Treleaven, who stroked his shot just past the foot of the right-hand post from 20-yards.

Muggeridge said of his talisman striker: “Unfortunately Scotty, as well, he’s lacking a bit of match fitness. He played a full game on Saturday and that’s why he hit it early, I think.  He’d normally would’ve gone through but because he was so tired he hit it early but that’s another chance that went begging.”

Biddlecombe produced a sublime 50-yard diagonal ball from left-to-right which picked out Shea, who cut inside from the touch-line to reach the by-line but his driven shot from a tight angle deflected into the foot of the side netting.

A run from Crowborough substitute Emiliano Hysi (who was wearing the wrong shirt number as listed on the official team sheet handed in to the referee), reached the by-line before cutting the ball back to Shea, who curled his shot around the far post.

The introduction of Fisher substitute Taylor Thomas added pace down the right hand side and he created a great chance for his side to win the game with seven minutes left.

Taylor’s sped from the half-way line into the right channel before he cut the ball back to substitute Alfie Roche, whose low shot bounced off the inside of the right-hand post, struck keeper Hampson while on the deck and Matthews was on the line to clear his lines on the line.

Muggeridge admitted Crowborough got lucky.

He said: “We’ve had things going against us in previous weeks but those things are starting to go for us. We need a little bit of luck. All of our games before we’ve had no luck at all and come away with draws and losses, but I think coming down here and getting a point is a very good result.”

Harrison, meanwhile, rued his bad luck, adding: “Just one of them nights. It just wasn’t going to go in was it?”

Crowborough also went close to snatching the victory at the death, but Josh Rawlins’ right-footed free-kick from 28-yards bounced off the wall and sailed just past the far post.

Muggeridge said: “He can do that but I think the substitutes that came on did really well but it took a deflection. Sometimes they go in, or they go just past the post.”

The referee admitted to Harrison that he did not see Carrington’s two-footed lunge at McLeod-Bentley, which happened in between the two dug-outs on the stand side of the pitch on the half-way line with his assistant referee Phillip Dunkley yards away, who failed to raise his flag to offer support to his colleague.

McCleod-Bentley was stretchered off and iced his painful left knee, while referee Mr Guzman failed to brandish a red or yellow card to Carrington.  Bizarrely, the referee restarted the game with a drop-ball, while The Fish played out the last remaining seconds with one man short.

Both managers were asked their thoughts on the incident.

Muggeridge said: “They came together, it was 50-50. They both had their feet up but their guy came out of it worse than him.  You see tackles like that all the time but I think it was just a meeting really. They were both committed, which is good, but I think their guy came out of it worse.”

Harrison said: “It was a two-footed challenge! Their manager has apologised to me after, he said sorry for that.  You can’t really legislate for that.

“I’ve asked the referee after what he saw and he told me ‘he hasn’t seen anything’.

“The same as Alfie Roche, when he got booked because he reacted to the boy (Biddlecombe) kicking him, who was already on a yellow card. The ref didn’t see the boy kick him but booked Alfie.

“I don’t know, he’s so inconsistent it was unreal!  He booked players for both sides for not doing a lot and then missed the real big incidents.

“I think the standard of refereeing in this league is questionable at times, it upsets me. We’re a side that try to play football. I want my boys to play football and I find everywhere I go, home or away, I find the ref’s aren’t strong enough sometimes and we seem to get booted all over the park.

“That’s why when you speak to anyone at this level they say footballing sides will never go up from this league because they don’t get protection and that’s a simple fact! I find it disappointing.

“I hope he’s (McLeod-Bentley) alright. We will have to see how he is during the week and see if he can play. I would imagine he won’t be fit for Saturday, I don’t know.”

Harrison, meanwhile, has upped his search for a qualified physio to look after his players on match-days.

“I’ve had a physio for two games (out of nine) this season and one of them we borrowed from Cray Wanderers (Ally Maloney). My physio’s gone AWOL. It was too much for her. I don’t know if our club are doing enough to get one in. We’ve tried everything. I need a physio. It’s ridiculous at this level (not having one). It’s an absolute joke that we haven’t got a physio!

Fisher climbed up a place in the Southern Counties East Football League table into eleventh with 8 points from 7 games, while Crowborough Athletic sit in thirteenth with 6 points from as many games.

Muggeridge said: “Two dropped (points), but saying that I’m not disrespecting Fisher at all but the way we played tonight, we’ve done enough to win the game. We should’ve been out of sight in the first 15-20 minutes and disappointed really with a draw but on another hand it’s how far we’ve come in the last couple of weeks because we’re disappointed with a draw away to Fisher on a Monday night.”

Fisher: Denzil Kobia, Ricky Hepburn, Reion McFarlane, Daniel Lawson, Gassimu Jalloh, Robert Curtis, Travis Gregory, Max Rothwell (Alex James 84), Tyrone Guthrie (Alfie Roche 68), Quentin Conteh (Taylor Thomas 77), Tyrell McLeod-Bentley.
Subs: James Franks, Nathan Palmer

Goals:  Tyrone Guthrie 14, Quentin Conteh 17

Booked: Max Rothwell 41, Alfie Roche 81, Alex James 86

Crowborough Athletic: Callum Hanpson, Ryan Hinkson, Kevin Everest, Tom Boddy, Paul Butler, John Shea, Callum Ridley (Emiliano Hysi 83), Sam Carrington, Scott Treleaven (Josh Rawlins 71), Josh Biddlecombe (Ryan Waterman 84).
Sub: Will Jagger

Goals: Josh Biddlecombe 7, Sam Carrington 10 (penalty)

Booked: Josh Biddlecombe 31, Paul Butler 59

Attendance: 80
Referee: Mr Jair Alzate Guzman (Southfields, London SW18)
Assistants: Mr Bradley Longergan (New Ash Green) & Mr Phillip Dunkley (Nunhead, London SE15)