Fisher 3-2 Canterbury City - I think we'll turn it over, says Canterbury City boss Ade Gower

Monday 13th January 2014

Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Quarter-Final First Leg
Monday 13th January 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium

FISHER assistant manager Keith Jarvis says he wants his players to reach the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Final at the end of the season.

The Fish travel to Herne Bay next Wednesday with a slender one-goal advantage after bouncing back from their humiliating 5-0 home defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Beckenham Town at the weekend.

Fifth-from-bottom Fisher took the lead through former Queen’s Park Rangers midfielder Danny Maguire’s quality 22-yard free-kick, before third-from-bottom Canterbury City – who have now only played two games since 16 November – levelled through striker Dan Gonzalez-Bello.

Fisher regained the lead through Troy Abbey’s eighth-goal of the season and striker Junior Fatai came off the bench to give Fisher a two-goal advantage inside stoppage time, before Canterbury City kept the tie alive when another substitute, Glenn Johnson scored at the death.

Despite their win, Fisher boss Billy Walton said he was not happy after the game so Jarvis fulfilled the club’s post-match media commitments.

“I think the pitch made it a little bit difficult for both teams to be able to get the ball down and play,” said Jarvis, 51, afterwards.

“I think from our result Saturday, we needed to get some sort of response out of the players’, which I think we did.  I think they showed today a lot more work-rate, a lot more commitment. 

“I’m disappointed with the goals (we let in) but that’s the way we’ve been defensively.”

Canterbury City’s manager Ade Gower, 46, meanwhile, was grateful to Johnson’s late strike.

“How vital? Very vital actually. I think at 3-1 we’d be struggling but at 3-2 we’re quite confident.  We’ve got a very good home record so I think with that we’re definitely well in it.

“We’re pretty confident we can turn it over.”

When asked for his thoughts about the Champion Hill pitch, Gower added: “It was alright actually. It wasn’t too bad. I was surprised it went on because as we drove up it was absolutely chucking it down so we were surprised. It’s certainly better than Herne Bay.  I don’t think we’ll be playing at Herne Bay this month!”

Match referee Simon Finnigan inspected the pitch 75 minutes before kick-off and was happy to get the game played.

Despite this being their first game in four weeks, Canterbury City started this first leg well.

But Gower admitted a lack of match-fitness cost his side in the end.

He said: “Yes, I think it showed as well.  First half we were very rusty. We’ve not really trained, we’ve only trained once since Christmas as well.  Playing at Herne Bay, it’s on clay and it just gets flooded all the time.”

Alex Kendall floated a corner in from the left and right-back Liam Hrehorow clipped a left-footed volley over the Fisher crossbar from eighteen-yards.

Left-sided midfielder Jack Winder then swept his right-footed half-volley harmlessly wide of the left-hand post from 30-yards, before an excellent chance was wasted in the thirteenth minute.

Sam Baker clipped a diagonal ball from right to left which was chested down by Winder, who dinked his cross towards the near post where Kendall glanced his header agonisingly wide of the post from four-yards out.

But Fisher grabbed an eighteenth minute lead, against the run of play, courtesy of a quality 22-yard strike from Maguire.

The 24-year-old curled a sweet right-footed free-kick over the wall and into the right-hand corner, past the diving Roddy Hayward, who couldn’t prevent Maguire scoring his sixth-goal of the season.

“He’s a good player, Danny,” said Jarvis.  “We try to give him all the dead-balls, free-kicks. That’s what Danny’s about, a quality player. He’s a (role) model. He’s enjoying it, he’s a local and he’s enjoying playing for Fisher.”

Gower added: “It was a very good free-kick actually. We had a little bit of a debate at half-time with Roddy our goalkeeper but he said it went over the top. I thought it went around the wall but he said it went over the top of the wall. It was a good free-kick, a very good free-kick. There’s not too much you can do about that.”

Fisher keeper Billy Hensman made a smart holding save low to his right after Kendall smashed an angled right-footed drive from the right-hand side of the penalty area towards the near post.

Canterbury’s second-choice keeper also made a similar save when he got down low his left to hold a powerful angled right-footed drive from Fisher right-back Aaron Seales after Abbey’s driven shot was blocked.

Gower, who was the club’s goalkeeping coach before he took over from former manager Simon Pettit last September, added: “Very good save, crucial save.  He’s a good keeper. He’s not our first team keeper, he’s our back-up keeper but we’re trying to give him games so we’re playing him in the cup games.  Unfortunately the Macron Cup is the only one we’re still in but we’re giving him plenty of football if we can.”

But Hayward was almost embarrassed just 37 seconds later when he was nearly caught out by a speculative left-footed clearance from Fisher left-back Piers Hanfian from fully 65-yards, which bounced off the turf and curled just past the left-hand upright.

Fisher’s two corners of the game were worked directly off the training field with three players on each corner of the penalty area and as Maguire whipped in the corner from the right, the six Fisher players converged into the middle and Billy Walton flicked his shot over the bar.

Gower explained why Lloyd Woolford – who has been subject of a seven-day approach from league rivals Phoenix Sports – was left on the bench until half-time before entering the field of play with the number 10 shirt on his back.

“We’ve only played Lloyd a half. We gave him a bit of a rest as well and he’s quite a major player for us so we’ll play him the whole game (in the second leg).”

Gower was pleased with Staunton’s display on the left and said: “He’s a very good player. We had a seven-day approach from Deal. He wants to stay at the club so he’s going to stay with us.”

Canterbury City equalised within seven minutes into the second half when the impressive Sam Staunton, 20, threaded the ball through to Gonzalez-Bello, who swept his right-footed shot past Billy Hensman to find the bottom near corner from 12-yards.

Gower said: “I thought we was in control as well for a good twenty minutes. We had a good period. Obviously when they got the (second) goal, I thought they got on top again.”

Jarvis added: “I felt that we could have dealt with it a lot better. I thought the centre halves were a bit too square. The ball (was played) straight down in between the two of them and they got caught out.”

Fisher went close to regaining their lead when Harry Draper played the ball into Maguire, who set up Abbey, who scuffed his shot past the near post when well placed.

Winder then released Staunton down the left and the Canterbury left winger unleashed a powerful left-footed drive from sixteen-yards, which screamed narrowly over the crossbar.

But Fisher were to be denied on the hour-mark when impressive substitute Kieron Campbell danced his way past three Canterbury City defenders and was only to be denied by a brilliant save from Hayward, who used his outstretched right-hand to tip over the striker’s excellent right-footed chip from 20-yards.

Both managers were full of praise for the nippy attacker.

“We’ve got an awful lot of time for Kieron Campbell,” said Jarvis.

“He’s a young lad, we’re just trying to nurse him through the early stages of Kent League football at the moment.  He’s got so much quality, we’re just trying to get him on the pitch whenever we can really.”

Gower added: “The lad they brought on, the little lad, he made a bit of a difference when he came on. He was certainly a lively little player and I think when we played them earlier on in the season he was a good tricky little player and I thought he made a difference when he came on for Fisher.”

Canterbury City created a decent chance to take the lead themselves with 20 minutes remaining.

Staunton whipped in a corner from the right and Hrehorow escaped his marker to see his diving header blocked well by Hensman, who reacted and dived low to his left to make a fine block.

But it was Fisher that took the lead in the 73rd minute with a goal not normally associated from a Billy Walton side.

Long-throw specialist Tom Carr came up from the heart of defence to loop a throw towards the near post where Walton (junior) flicked the ball across goal and Abbey glanced his downward header at the far post into the bottom left-hand corner from two-yards.

Jarvis admitted: “It’s not something that we’ve been doing an awful lot. We’ve just discovered that Tom Carr has got a long throw and I’m sure we’ll make use of that in the future.”

Gower admitted he is searching for a new central defender.

“Poor defending from our side. We’re not great defending set-pieces. We need to be attacking the ball a little bit more and we’re not and I am actually looking for a centre half to try to address that. We’re not good in the air and we’ve got big lads so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do. 

“When they went 2-1 up, they got on top.  Before that it was against the run of play and we were on top really.”

Canterbury City skipper Steven Baines cracked a speculative right-footed shot sailing harmlessly wide from 25-yards.

Fisher went direct again when Carr launched another long throw towards the near post and Walton won his header at the near post, which agonisingly clipped the outside of the near post and went behind for a goal-kick.

Fisher went into the 90th minute with a 2-1 lead, but both teams scored inside injury time to make the second leg at Winch’s Field an interesting affair.

Fisher moved into a 3-1 lead with 45:52 on the clock after Abbey cut the ball across the penalty area for Fatai to drill an emphatic first time shot across Hayward to find the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

“We’re pleased for Junior,” said Jarvis.  “He’s been on the bench for a few weeks now and I’m quite happy he’s had a chance and buried it.  It was a good finish, a good strike.”

Gower added: “It was a good goal, a nice little bit of football. I thought we were a little bit rusty. We looked a little bit tired towards the end as well but I think he took it well to be fair.

“I still thought at 3-1, get them back at our place at Winch’s Field, I think we still could have got a 2-0 win, we still could have done it.”

But Canterbury City kept the tie alive when they pulled a goal back with 46:57 on the clock.

The impressive Staunton had acres of space down the left channel and he whipped a low centre across the face of the goal and substitute Johnson steered the ball past Hensman into the bottom right-hand corner.

Gower said: “I’m very pleased with 3-2, getting that extra goal and you can tell by their manager’s reaction he was pissed off conceding that one towards the end there.”

Johnson, however, was criticised by Gower for his over-indulgence over the festive period.

“He’s put on a bit of weight over Christmas, so he got a bit of a ribbing for that,” revealed Gower.

“Glenn, when he’s fit, he played for us last season and I think he scored quite a few goals. He’s just been on the fringes really, he’s been injured early doors so now he’s back, he’s a very good player to have.”

Fisher have kept only two clean sheets in 26 games in all competitions this season and Jarvis admitted that is a problem.

“It’s the story of our defending at the moment,” he said.

“We’re trying to deal with it.  We spend a lot of time on the training ground.  You’ve got to defend better, all over, all the time really. That’s the sort of goals we’ve been conceding really. We fall asleep a little bit, a lack of concentration.”

Fisher travel to basement side Woodstock Sports on Saturday, whilst Canterbury City travel to eleventh-placed Beckenham Town.

Next Wednesday’s second leg is evenly poised, but Gower is confident his side can reach the two-legged semi-final.

He said: “We rested three players tonight, three regulars, who normally start so we’ll have them back for the home leg as well.  I fancy our chances. I think we’ll turn it over.

Away goals only county double after extra-time in the second leg- and if away goals don’t separate the sides, penalties will be taken to decide the overall winner of this tie.

Jarvis said: “If it all comes down to being level at the end, it actually counts – there’s away goals that count.  We could have done with keeping it at 3-1.

“The manager only knows one way to play so we’re going to go there and attack them and do our best to get a win.  We don’t know how to defend a 1-0, so we’re going out there and compete and try to get a win.”

Jarvis explained why he wants Fisher to reach their first cup final since re-forming.

“For all these people here. Fisher FC are new to me, but it’s like a lot of these places, they work for nothing behind the scenes. It will be great for them to get something out of it.”

Fisher: Billy Hensman, Aaron Seales, Piers Hanifan, Harvey Hanifan, Tom Carr, Billy Walton, Danny Maguire, Harry Draper, Junior James (Junior Fatai 72), Mike Daramola (Kieran Campbell 58), Troy Abbey.

Goals: Danny Maguire 18, Troy Abbey 73

Booked: Billy Walton 26

Canterbury City: Roddy Hayward, Liam Hrehorow, Sam Kettle, Lewis Bennett, Lee Scott, Jack Winder (Glenn Johnson 81), Alex Kendall (Lloyd Woolford 46), Steven Baines, Dan Gonzalez-Bello (George Coshall 81), Sam Baker, Sam Staunton.

Goals: Dan Gonzalez-Bello 52, Glenn Johnson 90

Booked: Steven Baines 20, Lloyd Woolford 71

Attendance: 52
Referee: Mr Simon Finnigan (Maidstone)
Assistants: Ms Louise Saunders (Rochester) & Mr Derek Peck (Bexleyheath)