Fisher 2-6 Crowborough Athletic - It's going to be very difficult for us now but I won't say it's over until it's mathematically impossible, says Crowborough boss Sean Muggeridge

Monday 17th April 2017
Fisher 2 – 6 Crowborough Athletic
Location St Paul's Stadium, Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London SE16 6NT
Kickoff 17/04/2017 15:00

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Divisionster Monday 17th April 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from St Paul’s Stadium

CROWBOROUGH ATHLETIC boss Sean Muggeridge says it will feel like a lost season if his side lose the league title on goal difference.

Ashford United, who beat tenants Canterbury City 3-1, lead the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title with a +10 goal difference to Crowborough Athletic, who both go into their last couple of games locked on 86 points.

Fisher slipped to the foot of the table on 25 points after losing 3-1 at Ashford United at the weekend and today’s blow puts the club in grave danger of dropping down to the First Division for the first time.

Fisher Athletic were playing the likes of Barnet, Cheltenham Town, Colchester United, Kidderminster Harriers and Wycombe Wanderers when they finished bottom of the GM Vauxhall Conference in 1991, and they will drop to the tenth tier of English football if they fail to beat third-placed Sevenoaks Town and freefalling strugglers Erith Town in their last two outings.

Crowborough Athletic got off to a flying start through winger Henry Muggeridge, who notched his 18th goal of the season after only 157 seconds.

Crows left-back Jason Barton then scored a nineteen-minute hat-trick as Crowborough raced into a 4-0 lead within 47 minutes of the game.

Fisher then had a go, pulling back a couple of goals from holding midfielder Luke Haidarovic, before Ross Treleaven’s hooked volley made it five, to score his 20th goal of the season, before Barton scored his fourth of the game, taking his goalscoring tally to an impressive 11 for the season.

“I thought we were very good in stages in the game and I also thought we were very poor in stages of the game, which I’ve told them,” said Muggeridge, after his side’s 27th league win of the season.

“First half we started very well, got a bit sloppy when we went 1-0 up and we’ve done that a few times now, but overall I’m really, really pleased with the result.

“I played the same side as I did on Saturday (2-0 home win over Lordswood) because I wanted the consistency and I wanted to bring fresh players off the bench rather than bring tired players’ off the bench and I wanted them on there to give it their all.

“It could’ve been anything that game. We had to take Tom Vickers off, put a striker (Sam Carrington) in midfield that didn’t help matters because I don’t think we conceded until that but overall I’m pleased.

“If you’re looking at a 6-2 result you’re normally ecstatic but I think the football we played was unbelievable in stages but then we were quite sloppy in stages and that’s why we conceded two goals.

“We were more attacking because we needed goals and that’s a problem. We do get ourselves exposed at the back. When you’ve got those three (Attwood, Treleaven and Muggeridge) up front, they’re going to cause anyone problems.”

Fisher boss Dean Harrison knows his side are on the brink of relegation after their 23rd league defeat of the season.

“Dust ourselves down and go again. We’ve still got two games left, a couple of results went our way today, we’re still in it,” he said.

“It was really tough because we had four players’ missing today.  The strongest part of our game since I’ve come in has been our defensive shape and I’ve had my holding midfielder (Camen Bhandal) missing, my right-back (Toyo Adeshina), my centre half (Dwayne Agyemang) and my goalkeeper (Nic Taylor).  Now when you take that out of a side whose fighting for their lives at the bottom and you’re playing a strong side like Crowborough, who are at the top, it makes a hell of a difference.

“I had to put Luke Haidarovic in at holding midfielder, Frazer Thorne was playing with an ankle injury from Saturday at right-back. I’ve called Martin Dynan in who’s on loan from Whyteleafe, who’s not fit and Banksie out goalkeeper who’s done us a job but you miss Nic in goal.

“So we just said look we’ve got to have a go. We’ve got to work hard and we’ve got to try to get something out of it and we got off to the worst possible start.”

Crowborough Athletic set the tone early and Muggeridge’s low cross was hit on the turn by Treleaven’s right-foot from 16-yards, which flashed just past the foot of the near post after only 86 seconds.

Crowborough easily took the lead with their next attack when Tom Vickers swept forward a lovely ball from inside the centre circle to release Muggeridge, who easily cut inside right-back Frazer Thorne to drill his low right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

Muggeridge, the manager, said: “We’re saying to him, because he keeps drifting in on that left, he’s naturally right-footed, he does cut in quite a lot and what he’s been doing is cutting in and not hitting the ball or playing it back in to midfield.  We just told him to make sure you have a strike and that’s what happened. It was a great finish across the keeper at the near post.”

Harrison added: “They came out strong. We knew they were going to be a good side, we just didn’t start well at all.

“He cut in. I said to Frazer ‘you’ve got to show him outside there’ and he said ‘if I show him outside I wouldn’t have caught him’ because he was worried about his ankle so he’s let him come inside and he finished.

“It was a terrible start. Can we get back from it? What are we going to do now?”

Crowborough bossed the midfield as Fisher failed to press players that are of National League South and Ryman Premier League standard and Fisher lone striker Daniel Tano was offered very little support up on his own.

Fisher midfielder Harry Bugden finally pressed Vickers in the middle, strode forward but his speculative left-footed drive from 30-yards sailed over Dan Ellis’ crossbar.

Treleaven played in a low cross from the right which Thorne failed to cut out and Muggeridge set-up Zac Attwood, who turned to strike his left-footed shot over the bar from 18-yards.

Treleaven clipped the ball over Daniel Flemming and Thorne’s heads to put Attwood through on goal and his left-footed chip was tipped over the crossbar by Fisher’s second choice keeper Ray Banks.

“He did well Banksy. He did all he could today. He hasn’t let himself down,” added Harrison.

Muggeridge added: “It was sort of one-way traffic really. I don’t think they had a shot on target. The goal-difference is quite important. We’ve had clawed some back today but I know Ashford won today so it’s only two goals we’ve clawed back so we have got to stop thinking about that now.”

But the inevitable soon arrived as Crowborough Athletic doubled their lead in the 28th minute.

Muggeridge floated in a corner from the left towards the far post where Jack Turner rose above his man to knock the ball back across goal and Barton scrambled the ball into the bottom far corner from within a crowded goal-mouth.

Muggeridge said: “Jack Turner leaped on the back post because they were complaining about a free-kick. It went back post. Jason Barton is a fox-in-the-box. If anyone who isn’t in this league and doesn’t know Jason Barton they’ll think he’s a striker at the moment. He’s someone we like in that area now and he will score goals.”

Harrison added: “The second goal was just an absolute joke! It was a foul on the back post!

“It started at our back post and it went back across goal and the boy that’s won the first header in front of the linesman is also climbing all over, I think it was Martin Dynan. He’s absolutely climbing all over him.  It was a joke how the linesman or the referee have not given that!

“I asked the ref he said ‘he has got to jump with his arms’. Well, you don’t jump with your arms on people’s shoulders and push them into the ground. He’s pushed the boy over to win the header. It was ridiculous!

“Listen mate, I had a penalty decision not given at Ashford on Saturday which was blatant and when you’re playing these big boys and you’re at the bottom you don’t seem to get them. I’m not crying, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, but you just don’t, you don’t get these decisions.”

Crowborough were too comfortable.  Jack Walder floated in a cross form the right and Turner rose highest above two Fisher defenders inside the box and looped his header which Banks plucked from underneath his crossbar.

Fisher, who failed to get a shot on target during a woeful first half, went closest in the 37th minute.

Midfielder Richie Hamill rolled the ball out to left-winger Juan David Devia-Pineda, who cut the ball back to Hamill, who whipped in a cross towards the far post where winger John Ufuah rose above Tom Boddy to steer his header wide from eight-yards.

Harrison said: “Didn’t quite get enough on it. We didn’t create, certainly not in the first half. We didn’t look after the ball well enough, our decision making was poor. I think we looked a bit tired today.”

Muggeridge added: “We lost it a little bit.  We just thought it would be too easy. We seem to stop it a little bit for 10 minutes and go again and you can’t do that every week.   You can’t dominate games for 90 minutes, I know that. We’re quite professional. We’d like to do that but obviously you can’t.”

Fisher were poor defensively and switched off from Treleaven’s long throw into the box but all Attwood could do was drill his shot into the side netting.

Another Treleaven long throw was flicked on by Walder and dropped at Muggeridge’s feet and his shot on the turn deflected over the crossbar.

Crowborough Athletic killed the game off with a third goal on the stroke of half-time.

Carey swung in a corner from the right and Banks pulled off a brilliant save high to his right to prevent Treleaven powering in a towering header.  Turner pounced on the loose ball and as Thorne and Banks went to ground, slipped the ball past them and poacher Barton tapped the ball over the line from close range.

Muggeridge said: “I was right behind that, it was a fantastic save from Ross Treleaven that should’ve gone in.

“But again Jason just knows where to be in the box. He’s not quick enough to be a striker, he’s a handful when he’s in the box for corners and free-kicks. He anticipates things. You’ll probably see a few more of them from him this season.”

Harrison admitted: “He made a great save there Banksy and the boys haven’t reacted. They’ve reacted quicker. You can’t do that! You’ve got to help your keeper out. He’s pulled out a very good save, someone needs to get close to him and clear the danger and they’ve haven’t, we haven’t reacted.”

At this time Fisher were staring relegation in the face and the body language from their players as they walked out for the second half was poor and a thrashing was inevitable.

Harrison said: “That kills it doesn’t it, 3-0.  I mean 2-0 you’ve still got half a chance, you’ve still got hope. At 3-0 against a side like that you’ve got a problem, so I told them at half-time you need to show some pride. We changed our shape and we went three up top. We had nothing to lose, just battle, just try to win the second half, show a little bit of pride.”

“I was pleased. For parts of the game in the first half we got the ball down and knocked it down and caused them lots of problems,” said Muggeridge.

“I was also not pleased because we stopped a little bit for that sort of five to 10 minutes. We can’t do that but overall at 3-0 at half-time you can’t be disappointed.”

Crowborough produced a sweeping move with attackers Treleaven and Muggeridge and Attwood’s left-footed curler was tipped around the post by Banks, diving to his right, after only 49 seconds.

Crowborough Athletic made it 4-0 – with only 75 seconds on the clock - following their eighth (of 12) corners.

Carey swung in the corner from the left and the Fisher defence switched off again to allow an unmarked Barton to hook in his shot from a tight angle, which hit a defender on the line before going in.

“That’s Barton’s all day long, he’s telling me it’s his,” insisted Muggeridge.

“I can’t see it from where I was, it was a bit of a congested area so I couldn’t see but he tells me it’s his goal, but I think you’re better off giving it to him. I don’t want another own-goal anyway.  He says it’s his goal.

“When we came out they took on board everything that we said at half-time about getting at them again and see where it takes us.”

Harrison said: “It’s ridiculous! It’s the same boy at the back post and no-ones picking him up!

“I’m not making any excuses for one minute but we were missing defensively today. We’ve had a lot of players out and we just looked all over the place at the back.

“We were dead. The game’s gone. We said to them if we get an early goal, 3-1, we can have a go here, but they got the early goal. You’ve gone 4-0 down so it was ominous.”

The introduction of Fisher sub striker Craig Hewett lifted the home side as they finally had a go with the game dead and buried.

Fisher pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute following their second and last corner of the game.

Devia-Pineda cut the ball back from the left to an unmarked Haidarovic, who turned to curl his right-footed shot around the keeper into the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

“Did well. It was a good finish. It just came too late, didn’t it,” admitted Harrison.

“At least they showed a little bit of character. We had a go, absolutely and we intended to have a go from the first whistle of the second half. We just unfortunately let in that fourth goal, which murdered us.”

Muggeridge added: “That was the worst period of the game when we scored the fourth because we let things happen.

“Their manager changed it a bit, which caused us a few problems but we have to be more clever than that. We can still score goals by sitting in and being compact with that threat up front.

“Disappointed, obviously, I know it’s a good finish, but I’m disappointed really. There was no-one around him.  I think Tom Boddy was marking him but allowed him to turn. Tom Boddy has been excellent for us by the way, he’s been excellent for us all season. He’s allowed mistakes, everyone is but to let him turn and not let anyone supporting him as well, was a bit disappointing.  I think we switched off  because we were 4-0 up and you can’t do it.”

Crowborough substitute Dan Perry flashed an angled drive just past the foot of the near post from 20-yards, before Fisher dominated.

Devia-Pineda came to life in the second half and he ran forward and set up Hewett, whose shot deflected off Turner as he slid in and looped up into Ellis’ hands for a comfortable catch.

Muggeridge said: “I said even at 4-0, against a side like that, I know the manager, he won’t stop. I said to them after the game when they had a go at us, it’s hard because I think we dropped off and also they had a go at us and that’s part and parcel of football.”

Bugden’s fine pass released Devia-Pineda down the left before he cut inside and scuffed a poor right-footed shot from 16-yards, which was easily gobbled up by Ellis.

Fisher deserved their breakthrough in the 70th minute, but their second goal was too little too late.

Hamill floated in a free-kick towards the far post where Martin Dynan rose above his man to knock the ball back across goal and Haidarovic powered his header in off the underside of the crossbar from 10-yards.

Harrison said: “It went in! It went over the line. It was six foot over! If their second goal weren’t a foul on our defender then that goal ripped through the back of the net so it was a goal. Again, good character, too little, too late.”

Muggeridge added: “We took Tom Vickers off, he’s absolutely fantastic in the air and we was a bit exposed for that. We had to take him off. He hasn’t played a lot of football this year but that’s the problem when you take good people in the air because they didn’t have a sniff before that. 

“I think it’s just unfortunate we had to take players off because they are exhausted. That is what I said before, we had to shut out games. I think the free-kicks come from where we didn’t deal with it before that. We had a chance to get rid of it but we’re a footballing side. We try to get the ball down so I can’t have a go at them for that.”

But Crowborough Athletic found an extra gear and scored their fifth goal to kill off any slim chance of Fisher pulling off a miracle come-back.

Carey floated in a free-kick from the right and an unmarked Treleaven hooked his volley across the keeper into the top right-hand corner, just 176 seconds after Fisher scored their second.

“What a finish, the boy’s got everything. He’s got pace, he’s good in the air, he’s got power and his finishing…,” said Muggeridge.

“If we have had him all season, it could’ve bene a lot different, I think. Our strikers are doing pretty well but having Ross for the whole season, he has struggled with injuries, he would get 35 goals in this league, there’s no doubt about it because he’s got everything and that was another attribute that he’s got, a volley in the top corner.”

Harrison added: “When it starts to get to five and obviously six, it’s a shame because the boys’ didn’t deserve that. They’ve worked so hard since I’ve been in and to let six goals in is a real shame.”

Fisher winger Ufuah cut in from the right and stroked his shot which was saved comfortably by Ellis, before Crowborough Athletic wrapped up the comfortable victory through Barton’s fourth goal in the 78th minute.

Carey’s free-kick was cleared out to Muggeridge, who was given acres of space on the left wing to whip in a deep cross to an unmarked Barton, who headed down and into the bottom right-hand corner from eight-yards.

Who knows the last left-back at any level of football to score four goals in a game?

“He’s just unbelievable in the box. If he had pace I’d probably play him up front,” Muggeridge said of Barton.

“He came to us around November-December time and he’s been superb. He scores goals. He scored a late goal down at Bridon Ropes when we put him up there and against Whitstable and he scored a goal in the 96th minute and he scores penalties.  We’ve put him on penalties but he missed on Saturday but he’s just a goal machine in the box from corners and everything.  Everyone would think he’s a striker if you’re looking at the paper with him scoring!”

Harrison pointed the finger of blame at his woeful defenders for gifting Barton his fourth goal of the game.

“Back post again, what can you say? Listen, if he’s unmarked once and scores, alright, twice, you think ok. Three times you’ve got some real problems at the back. When he’s doing it a fourth time you’ve got to need to have a look at yourselves as a defence there. No-ones taking responsibility, it’s poor defending.”

Fisher’s late chances came from outside the penalty area as they looked to score a third.

Hamill’s left-footed drive was saved comfortably by Ellis, who then saved low to his right to frustrate Ufuah, after Barton failed to cut out Devia-Pineda’s low diagonal pass.

And when Fisher did create a chance from inside the box, Hewett fluffed his lines, with his team-mates telling him that he should have “thrown himself” at the ball.

Devia-Pineda cut the ball back to Ufuah, who flashed his centre across the face of goal but Hewett showed no desire to get to the ball and the chance like Fisher’s chances of staying in the division went.

Muggeridge said: “You’ve got Dan Ellis in goal, same as the Ashford keeper (George Kamurasi) he’s got a presence and when you shoot from distance I’m not worried with Dan Ellis in goal, long shots don’t really bother me.   They were on top for that part of the game and to be fair to them they never gave up, which I don’t expect from their manager anyway, he’s a good coach and a good manager and he’s done a fantastic job since he’s come back so I did expect it.  It was a little bit too late for them. Maybe if they had a go first half it might’ve been a bit different.”

Ashford United travel to Croydon on Saturday, before hosting Rochester United on the last day of the season, while Crowborough host Beckenham Town and travel to Hollands & Blair.

“Danny Lye (the Ashford manager) will probably tell you the same. Any other league you’ve problem won it by now,” said Muggeridge.

“I think we are the best two teams in the league. I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

“It’s going to be very difficult for us now because they’ve got middle of the table sides who are maybe not looking at next season. On paper they are favourites but we’ll keep going and see what we can do, it’s all we can do.”

When asked what it will feel like losing out on promotion and the title on goal-difference, the Crowborough boss replied: “Well, there’s two games left. It will be more disappointing than losing by three or four points. The amount of fire power that we’ve got in our side to go out on goal-difference is going to be disappointing. It’s almost like a lost season really. We can’t rest players, we need to put a strong side out there. We need to keep going and hope they slip up.

“It’s not over. I won’t say it’s over until its mathematically impossible and we just told that to the players’.  It’s unusual how your changing room is after people listening to the other results. They’re quite deflated in there now to be honest with you, not deflated, I never let them get like that.”

Fisher remain rooted to the foot of the table with two games left to play with 25 points, Erith & Belvedere have a point more, while Erith Town (28), Beckenham Town (29) and Lordswood (30) are all looking over their shoulder trying to finish outside the bottom two relegation places.

A trip to third-placed Sevenoaks Town follows for Fisher next Saturday, before hosting Erith Town on the final day of the season.

“Hopefully, all being well, we’ll have a full squad next week and with a full squad we’ll be going there to get something out of the game,” said Harrison.

“We’re still in it, by all means. It’s still tight at the bottom. There’s still six points to play for and we will be fighting to the end, starting next Saturday.

“We’ve been playing under pressure and we’ve got ourselves into a position where we’re still in it.  We’re still in a fight. If you said to me in December that with two games to go you’ll still have a chance of staying up, I would’ve bitten your hand off because the place was in a terrible state so we’ve done a good job.  We’ve got six points to play for and we’ll continue to the last whistle.”

Fisher: Ray Banks, Frazer Thorne, Ashley Wright, Luke Haidarovic, Daniel Flemming, Martin Dynan (Joseph Adesina 74), John Ufuah, Harry Bugden, Daniel Tano (Craig Hewett 50), Richie Hamill, Juan David Devia-Pineda.
Subs: Alfie Collins, Toyo Adeshina, Hamid Bangura

Goals: Luke Haidarovic 53, 70

Crowborough Athletic: Dan Ellis, Sam Crabb, Jason Barton, Tom Vickers (Sam Carrington 63), Tom Boddy, Jack Turner, Lee Carey, Jack Walder, Zac Attwood (Dan Perry 54), Ross Treleaven (Tom Pearson 76), Henry Muggeridge.
Subs: Dan Tear, Wayne Clarke

Goals: Henry Muggeridge 3, Jason Barton 28, 45, 47, 78, Ross Treleaven 73

Attendance: 105
Referee: Mr Daniel Proctor (Dartford)
Assistants: Mr Hawkar Ahmed (Gillingham) & Mr Joe Neanor

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