Fisher 2-0 Cray Valley (Paper Mills) - Cray Valley don't make things easy but we stood up like men tonight, says Fisher boss Dean Harrison

Sunday 09th August 2015
Fisher 2 – 0 Cray Valley (Paper Mills)
Location Champion Hill Stadium, Dog Kennel Hill, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, London SE22 8BD
Kickoff 10/08/2015 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League
Monday 10th August 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium

FISHER manager Dean Harrison says his new-look side stood up like men during a physical hard-fought south-east London derby against a poor Cray Valley side.


Fisher, who had central defender Robert Curtis sent-off during their 4-1 opening-day defeat at Deal Town on Saturday, bounced back with a deserved 2-0 victory over Cray Valley to climb up to eighth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table.

The Millers, meanwhile, failed to rediscover the form that they showed to beat Lordswood 3-0 at the weekend and many more poor performances like this one will harm their title credentials. The Eltham based outfit slipped down a place into fifth.

Cray Valley lost their marquee summer signing, striker Luke Harvey to a dead leg early on in the game and another striker, Adam Marsh, was sent-off on the hour mark for an alleged off-the-ball head-butt towards Fisher striker Luke Haidarovic, who had given Fisher an early lead from the penalty spot.

Fisher edged a game of limited chances and Will Agbo came off the bench to slot home the clincher at the death, much to Harrison’s delight.

“I thought we worked really hard tonight,” said the Fisher manager.

“It’s still a brand new squad. We haven’t had much time together.  I’ve had a lot of injuries Saturday, still have, but I’ve got three boys back in tonight, which made a difference and I thought we worked hard for the victory.

“It wasn’t easy, Cray Valley don’t make things easy. They’re physical but we did well.  We stood up like men tonight.

“It’s a local derby and you know what you’re going to get with Gross’s teams! They’re big, strong and physical. They don’t roll over for anyone so we had to make sure we were the same, competed and matched them in all areas.”

Cray Valley’s player-manager Paul Gross was clearly bitterly disappointed with his side’s poor performance.

“Not good enough! Beaten by a better team! Outplayed, out-battled,” said the target-man, still in his kit.

“One of those nights, didn’t go out way, so yes disappointing but like you say, 2-0 defeat, that’s that really!”

Speaking about the feisty local derby, which saw his players collect four yellows and a red card, Gross said: “I think people on the side make more of it than what it is.  Plenty of tackles went in but it’s an evening game of football and that’s what you expect.  I’m sure Dean wants that from his team and that’s what I from my team.”

The Fish forced three successive corners and their first chance was created following their third flag-kick inside the opening nine minutes.

Winger Alfie Roche swung in the ball from the right towards the near post and Haidarovic shrugged off team-mate Shelton Gooden at the near post to flick his shot narrowly wide from six-yards.

But Fisher punished a sleeping Cray Valley by taking an 18th minute lead from the penalty spot.

A throw in from left-back Veejay Miller released striker Gooden down the left, who cut into the penalty area and glided past Cray Valley central defender Aiden Sherlock and referee Alexis Stacchinni had the easiest decision to point to the spot after the striker was tripped as he was heading in behind the former Faversham Town defender towards the by-line.

Haidarovic gave Fisher the lead with a cheeky dinked penalty straight down the middle as former Cray Wanderers goalkeeper Luke Colquhoun danced slightly to his right.

Harrison said: “Really good run, a good bit of play. We put Shelton in. Shelton works really hard for you up there. He chases lost causes, he hunts things down, he’s quick, he’s very deceiving, he’s a lot quicker than he looks.

“I’m very surprised the ref didn’t send their defender off for the challenge. Shelton was just about to pull the trigger and he brought him down.

“Rightly a penalty, but in my mind a clear red card. I was very surprised by the decision (not to send him off).”

Gross added: “Just all over the place defensively! I think we had four chances to get rid of it. We got pulled about! Penalty, that’s it. It was a penalty, good goal.”

Cray Valley left-back, Adam Gross, usually produced quality from set-piece situations but he was one of many players in green shirts that failed to impress.

His first effort sailed over the Fisher crossbar from 25-yards.  He then floated in a cross from the left, which was glanced across goal by Marsh at the near post, which Fisher keeper Denzil Kobia easily gathered before Jim Doherty (who had replaced Harvey) could pounce at the far post.

Fisher created a shot on target at the half-way mark of the first half.

The home side were awarded a free-kick inside the D and Haidarovic drilled a low right-footed free-kick through the wall, which was gobbled up comfortably by Colquhoun.

Harrison said: “It’s one of those free-kicks. You hit the target, you can’t ask for a lot more. I’d rather see him hit the target and the keeper than put it 20 yards over the bar. The keeper might spill it.”

Cray Valley’s best chance of the entire game arrived in the 26th minute.

Adam Gross whipped a left-footed free-kick towards the near corner from 30-yards, which Kobia dived to his left to fingertip the ball around his near post.

Paul Gross said: “Again we’re talking about one free-kick! We had a few crosses that we got our head on but not enough but it was a good free-kick, a good save, but there weren’t enough of them tonight.  There weren’t enough quality on the set-pieces tonight.”

Harrison was full of praise for his patient goalkeeper.

“Denzil has been immense.  He was so patient last year. He’s a young lad still. He worked hard last year, he was number two to Justin Lee for most of the season but I love him! He’s such a good character.  He gives you 100%. If you see him work in training, I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as that! He’s immense so I’m so pleased for him that he’s coming through this year.”

The Millers produced a good move when Rory Hill released Ben Healy down the right and he floated over a good delivery but central midfielder Frankie Warren jumped up to send his header over the bar from eight-yards.

“We huffed and puffed. There was nothing in it!  We huffed and puffed but we just couldn’t create anything,” admitted the Millers manager.

“We changed our shape a little bit. Last 15 minutes we looked a bit more lively. Apart from that there was not a lot for you to say about the game.”

Harrison added: “They’re going to have chances, aren’t they? They sling the ball in and they get bodies in there.”

Harrison was full of praise for his new central defensive partnership of Curtis and Gassimo Jalloh, formerly of Croydon and Beckenham Town respectively.

He said: “Absolutely fantastic! They’re going to be a great pairing. I think it’s only their third game together. Gass didn’t play Saturday, he wasn’t available. They’ve had two friendlies together and they looked good, they looked solid so I hope they grow!”

Adam Gross was given another opportunity with a 30-yard free-kick, this time from a central position, which sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

Another free-kick from the left-back was whipped in from the right and Marsh sent a brave header over the bar from six-yards.

Cray Valley’s left-winger Uche Ibemere, who appeared to be lost at Champion Hill tonight, raced down the left before cutting the ball back to Hill, whose shot from the edge of the box deflected into Kobia’s hands at the end of the first half.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Harrison admitted: “I wasn’t delighted with how we were playing. I thought we defended well in our defensive third but I thought we had to defend higher. We were putting too much pressure on ourselves. I think once we got the goal I thought we stopped playing. 

“I thought we came out really well and when we went 1-0 up I thought we stopped doing the right things, so we had a little chat at half-time and tried to put that right.”

Gross admitted: Just asked them to be a bit braver, try and get on the ball.  I don’t know, you watched it! Did we string five passes together? First half-an-hour, 35 minutes? Probably not!

“Just asked them to be brave, get on the ball, try and work on what we try to work on but it just wasn’t happening, was it?”

There was concern during the interval as only three of the four floodlight pylons came on – but the referee was happy to continue the game with one half of the pitch brighter than the other.

Harrison said: “Lucky it was summer! If it was winter they might not have gone on. It didn’t cause too much of a problem.

“It was alright. The linesman had luminous laces on so it helped light it up a little bit!”

Gross said: “We could all see couldn’t we? The floodlights weren’t working. The linesman standing there in the dark over the far side. It’s down to the referee, it’s his decision. Same as if there would have been a serious injury or anything, it would have been on his conscience. Let everyone make their own opinions on whether it should have carried on or not.  Three floodlights at this level – is that good enough? You tell me!”

Adam Gross finally found his range with a left-footed drive from 25-yards, which dipped narrowly over the Fisher bar inside the opening three minutes of the second half, but Cray Valley were poor throughout.

Fisher went close too, when central midfielder Max Rothwell played the ball into winger Roche, who took a touch and curled his right-footed shot around the far post from 25-yards.

Roche then swung in a corner from the right which was cleared out to Daniel Lawson, but the Fisher central midfielder smashed his right-footed volley screaming wide from 30-yards.

But Fisher’s best chance to kill the game off arrived in the 51st minute, following a sweeping attacking move.

The impressive winger Tyrell McLeod-Bentley sped past Joe Matthews as he made an arrowed run from right to centre before he switched play to find the unmarked Haidarovic down the right.  The striker whipped in a great cross towards the far post but an unmarked Gooden planted his header over from eight-yards.

Harrison said: “It was a great move. I think it was Tyrell down the line, got into Luke, who put a lovely ball in and Shelton just didn’t get over it enough to put it in the back of the net. He headed it over. He did alright other than that.”

But Cray Valley gave themselves a mountain to climb when eagle-eyed assistant Joshua Howard spotted Marsh had allegedly head-butted Haidarovic inside the Fisher penalty area in an off-the-ball incident and after consulting his colleague, referee Mr Stacchini brandished Marsh a red-card.

Harrison claimed: “He head-butted him off-the-ball! There was only one decision!

“I had it Saturday against Deal where my boy (Curtis) pushed their player in the face right in front of the ref and you’re going to get sent-off for that.

“If you’re going to head but people then you get sent-off. It’s not football!”

Gross added: “I’m the same as you, completely wondered what had gone on! I didn’t have a clue!

“I’ve just spoken to Marshy, he said there boy has put his head in his head. They’ve gone together. He’s said it’s not a head-butt.

“But listen at half-time I told them to keep their discipline. I thought we’d create chances with 11 men on the pitch so I said keep your discipline right until the end.

“He’s done something that the ref thinks warrants a red card.  Again, it’s down to the ref. You didn’t see it, I didn’t see it, but we shouldn’t really put ourselves in that position should we because it’s an uphill struggle 1-0 down with 10 men.”

Fisher’s three attackers were lively and Gooden cut into the penalty area and drilled his shot into the foot of the side netting from 15-yards.

Former Cray Wanderers winger Hill cut in from right to the centre and his left-footed drive deflected past the far post and behind for a Cray Valley corner.

The Millers’ player-manager Paul Gross had seen enough and entered the field for the final nineteen minutes of the game but he couldn’t get his troops going as Fisher’s unpaid players showed a lot more desire than their local rivals.

Gross said: “I was a bit short. If I have to I’ll come on. I’ll do whatever it takes to help my team out, whether that’s from the side or on the pitch so be it. I’ll do whatever I can to help the boys.

“I was light on the bench with three substitutes to start with, me included. One (Lee Craig) turned up at half-time. It’s not ideal, it’s what Monday night at Fisher throws up to you. I didn’t have many other options. I brought young Jim Doherty on. We missed Luke, any team would miss a player of Luke’s quality.”

Harrison added: “We defended really well and we spoke about that at half-time. We knew they were going to come out harder and stronger than they did first half.

“Gross’s teams don’t roll over.  We played them last year and we know what they’re all about.

“We defended hard. Our discipline was a lot better than it was Saturday. We kept our shape better. 

“I thought Danny Lawson in the middle and Ricky Hepburn at right-back were absolutely immense as well as everybody else. They’re just two to name who I have just picked out but we really worked hard as a unit.”

Fisher wrapped up the victory with a second goal with 44:11 on the clock.

Haidarovic powered a header from inside the Cray Valley half to release substitute Ben Mitchell down the right wing and he played the ball inside to the unmarked Agbo, who took a touch and had enough composure to slot the ball underneath the keeper into the middle of the goal to hand Fisher a deserved victory.

Harrison said: “Will Agbo’s a quality player. He showed a little bit of composure and took the chance really well.

“I started him Saturday and it was a decision I had to make today, who I was going to play in the middle?

“What I’ve got at the minute is a little bit of strength-in-depth when everyone’s fit.  I’ve got a fantastic bench here and I can swap like-for-like. There’s a lot of quality so I’m really pleased for Will, a great lad.”

Gross admitted: “We didn’t turn up. I don’t feel we turned up but look it was the kick up the a**e we need. 

“We done well pre-season. I’ve done nothing but praise them pre-season and Saturday. Today has gone against us, one of those things.

“You must have been bored, I was! It weren’t the best of games was it? Let’s hope there’s not too many of them thrown up this season.

“I was bored. If I was you I would have gone home at half-time.

“I said to the lads we’ve assembled a good group of players so it’s going to be harder this year because people will want to beat them. It’s how they rolled their sleeves up.

“We’re not a bad team overnight. People will have blips. People will look at that because they got beat at Deal 4-1 you’ve got the right to turn up and beat them? No chance! I know this league and you’ve reported on this league. We know everyone can beat anyone on their day! It’s not a great deal between the teams. You’ve got to work hard then your quality will show but today the quality didn’t come.”

Cray Valley’s players will have to look in the mirror tonight and admit their performances were not good enough.

Did they look at Fisher’s result on Saturday and just think they could turn up and turn Fisher over?

Paul Gross said: “No I don’t think so! I’d like to think not. I’ve got some big players in there that have played at good levels. If they think that, they’re too experienced to think that and I won’t let them think that!

“I know Dean would want to turn us over so no and if they did I’ll ask questions of them Thursday but I don’t think we did.  It just went against us. We didn’t play tonight, it will happen.”

Roche unleashed a right-footed drive over the Cray Valley crossbar from 25-yards, which was the last kick of the game.

Harrison, meanwhile, was delighted with the vocal support from The Fisher Five tonight.

“Really good to show the crowd the desire we’ve got and the way that these boys want to play for Fisher and they recognise how big a club Fisher is so great support as always and I thank the supporters for coming, they were fantastic.”

Fisher:  Denzil Kobia, Ricky Hepburn, Veejay Miller, Daniel Lawson, Gassimo Jalloh, Robert Curtis, Alfie Roche, Max Rothwell (Will Agbo 66), Luke Haidarovic, Shelton Gooden (Ben Mitchell 79), Tyrell McLeod-Bentley (Quinton Conteh 74).
Subs: Alex James, Reion McFarlane

Goals: Luke Haidarovic 18 (penalty), Will Agbo 90

Booked: Tyrell McLeod-Bentley 40, Veejay Miller 45, Quinton Conteh 87

Cray Valley: Luke Colquhoun, Tommy Osborne, Adam Gross, Ben Healy, Aiden Sherlock, Joe Matthews (Lee Craig 65), Rory Hill, Frankie Warren (Paul Gross 71), Adam Marsh, Luke Harvey (Jim Doherty 16), Uche Ibemere.
Sub: Greg Benbow

Booked: Joe Matthews 45, Rory Hill 73, Ben Healy 75, Adam Gross 85

Sent Off: Adam Marsh 60

Attendance: 112
Referee: Mr Alexis Stacchinni (Orpington)
Assistants: Mr Joshua Howard (Catford, London SE6) & Mr Jordan Whitworth (Catford, London SE6)