Fisher 1-3 Lydd Town - Our aim is to get into the play-offs, says Lydd Town boss Scott Porter

Saturday 24th February 2024
Fisher 1 – 3 Lydd Town
Location St Paul's Stadium, Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London SE16 6NT
Kickoff 24/02/2024 15:00

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 24 February 2024
Stephen McCartney reports from St Paul’s Stadium

LYDD TOWN manager Scott Porter says he is under pressure to deliver a place in the play-offs at the end of the club’s maiden campaign in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division.

The Lydders’ remain in eleventh-place in the table but have closed the gap on the top-five to nine points and have 13 league games remaining.

Fisher winger Flavio Jumo swept in his fourth goal of the season to give the home side an early lead, before Lydd Town’s holding midfielder James Rogers headed in an equaliser before impressive winger Troy Howard rifled home on the stroke of half-time.

Lydd Town striker Dean Grant notched his seventh goal for the club to make it two wins, two draws and two defeats for Porter since he replaced Rogers in the managerial hot-seat.

“It was one of our best performances since I’ve been at the football club, especially going 1-0 down,” said Porter.

“We showed the character, showed the experience, showed the quality that we’ve got in the squad.  The squad was probably the best squad since I’ve been here with the strength-in-depth on the bench.

“We had to make a change early on with Mitch Brundle pulling up in the warm-up, he just tweaked his groin a little bit, so obviously we had to make the change but the strength-in-depth showed.

“It’s a tough place to come.  Four players turned up at half-past-two because of the traffic.  One turned up at a quarter-past-two, so it was a little bit of a juggle.  Two of them didn’t even warm up, Sammy Adams and Ronnie Dolan but they’re experienced, they got rubbed, they know their bodies and look at the performances they put in, so yes, delighted.”

Fisher boss Ajay Ashanike added: “Do you know what.  The better team lost today, in my opinion, the better team lost!  We looked to play the right way. There’s no right way of playing football but we try to play our type of football and they play their type of football.

“On the pitch today we had a 16-year-old, a 17-year-old and 18-year-old on the pitch and it’s something that they’ve got to learn and they’ve got to learn quick.

“For us, it’s building for next season, make sure the boys that are leaving us for next season are bleeding to what Fisher means to these kids coming in next season.”

This was Ashanike’s third game back in charge of the club since his switch to manage Isthmian League North Division side Basildon United lasted for seven games.

“It feels good. Even though we’ve lost today, it feels good to be back home.  This is where I belong, I don’t belong anywhere else. I’m happy to be back home, really happy to be back home,” said Ashanike.

“The last six weeks, I lost was most of my depressing of my management career.  I’ve been doing it for 10 years. I feel like I’m back home and a weight lifted off my shoulder.

“I look at it two different ways. I needed a break from Fisher. I needed to step away from there because once you’re in it, you can only see what you can see.  When I stepped away I started to see what I was doing wrong, what I was doing right, so that break was needed.  Maybe not to go to another club but a break was needed from Fisher.

“I’ve been there for four years and constantly doing the same thing over and over again, rebuilding and rebuilding and it was tiring, so I believe I’ve had a little rest and that’s the way I looked at it. It’s a positive move for me going forward because I needed a rest.”

Lydd Town were a direct outfit and a long ball out from right-back Elliott Moore released winger Harvey Welford down the right and his cross was comfortably caught by Fisher goalkeeper Muhammed Otuyo, before Fisher grabbed the lead with the first real chance of the game, timed at 10 minutes and 51 seconds.

Holding midfielder Tyron Mbuenimo played the ball inside to attacking midfielder Samuel Sene-Richardson and the impressive 16-year-old played the ball behind Lydd Town centre-half Jahmal King to put through Jumo, who clinically swept a right-footed shot into the roof of the net from 16-yards, when he only had goalkeeper Craig Smith to beat.

“We worked on that in training the other day and it worked,” revealed Ashanike.

“If the boys carry on doing what we’re asking them to do, I think they’ll go places.   It’s positive to see what we’ve done in training on Thursday and we’ve scored from it, so it’s credit to the boys.”

Porter added: “To be fair, they were dangerous in the first half with their little balls in between.  No 12 (Sene-Richardson) was a threat, he was in and around pockets, playing off people’s shoulders and he was causing a few problems.

“I think they had two or three chances like that.  I thought it was pretty even up until then and I thought it was even most of the first half to be honest with you.”

Lydd Town centre-half Ryan Smith, who took the place of Mitch Brundle, who tweaked his groin during the warm-up, intended to pass the ball to Sam Adams but the ball was intercepted by Jumo.

Jumo linked up well with seven-goal striker Thomas Ngegba but lacked composure inside the box and sliced his first-time shot which looped up and was comfortably caught by the visiting goalkeeper in his midriff.

Lydd Town produced a well-worked move in the 15th minute, with Grant sweeping his shot against the inside of the foot of the far post.

Winger Welford pinged a diagonal from left-to-right to Howard, who put it on a plate for Grant, who swept his first time right-footed shot across keeper Otuyo, only for the ball to clip the inside of the foot of the far post before the keeper gathered.

Porter said: “Our two wide men are massive threats in our side.  He’s unlucky not to score because it was a great move.  Sometimes you think is it going to go but we just kept plugging away and that’s what you’ve got to keep doing.”

Ashanike admitted: “That was a great move by them. They done really well there to move the ball around us, put it out wide to Harvey, delivered, a good effort on goal. The striker has to put it away, that’s you’re job!”

Fisher centre-half Mark Chidi launched a long ball out of defence to release Jumo down the left and after getting the better of Lydd right-back Moore, he cut the ball back for left-back Callum Flynn, who lacked composure just inside the box and rolled a weak shot which was comfortably gathered by keeper Smith.

“He should be doing better.  First half I spoke about that, should be doing better.  You can’t be in front of goal and just pass it back to the keeper. You’ve got to smash it.  I don’t care if it goes into the woman’s kitchen, you’ve got to smash it and that’s the ruthlessness we need to bleed into these boys because some of them, they’re really nice kids but you can’t go on the pitch and be a nice guy,” said centre-half Ashanike.

“I didn’t play as high as I played because I was nice.  I wasn’t nice at all and they need to be ruthlessness and finish off your chances and testing the keeper really well.”

Lydd Town rode the storm, however, and were awarded a free-kick some 35-yards from goal when Sam Adams – who plays behind the front three of Welford (left), Grant (centre) and Howard (right) drew a foul from Mbuenimo.

Adams stroked his right-footed free-kick bouncing past the left-hand post, with keeper Otuyo going down like a sack of potatoes in an attempt to dive to his right to make the save.

“Sammy’s got a great delivery but sometimes you want to put it in the box and you take responsibility and Sam fancies a shot,” added Porter.

The impressive Sene-Richardson hit a long diagonal over to Jumo, who cut the ball back for Flynn, who whipped in a first time cross towards the near post but Sene-Richardson’s free looping header was comfortably caught by Smith.

“I think young Sam, he’s really put himself about today.  I think he’s one of the youngest players in the club as well.  Sixteen-years-old, on loan from Chatham.  Really class, really, really class. The more games he’s playing, the more everyone’s going to hear about him, absolutely class player and he’s done really well,” added Ashanike.

Porter said: “Craig’s made a couple of saves.  Craig’s been great for us.  When I came in I needed to change the goalkeeper because I needed a bit more maturity and a bit more control and Craig’s definitely brought that and he’s been immense since he’s come back into the football club.

“He travels a long way from where he lives (Woking, Surrey).  He’s handling, kicking, talking, his experience, his calmness is a credit and he gives everyone a vote of confidence from the back.”

Fisher’s wastefulness in front of goal continued when they struck the near-post in the 34th minute.

Centre-half Joseph Adewunmi crossed the halfway line before playing the ball inside to Flynn – who was in a central position – and he played a low pass in behind centre-half King to put Sene-Richardson through on goal.  His initial shot was blocked by the advancing keeper before the Chatham Town loanee lacked composure and clipped the near post from a tight angle.

Ashanike admitted: “I think he got nosebleed because when you’re playing in the youth team it’s totally different to playing first team and when you have people watching you, you get panicked and I think that’s what he did, he panicked.  But if you give him that chance next week, he will put it away.”

Porter added: “We took our chances and they didn’t take their chances!”

Lydd Town clinically grabbed an equaliser with 37 minutes and 54 seconds on the clock, after Fisher had initially dealt with Adams’ free-kick.

The ball was recycled back into the box by Ronnie Dolan from the right and Rogers guided a free header bouncing into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal from 16-yards.

“It was a great delivery from Ronnie. He’s got that in his locker and we’ve just got to keep the ball alive in those situations and Rogo, I’m not being funny, it’s a free header but a great header as well and he’s got us back in the game, got the momentum going,” said Porter.

Ashanike added: “They didn’t do nothing right there. We did a lot wrong in there.  The ball went out, we didn’t go and press. They crossed the ball, two men were free, any of them could’ve scored and we just defended poorly.

“But that happens when you’ve got a young side.  That’s always going to happen bit they’ve got to learn very, very quick.  They need to learn because the next 10 games we’re taking it very serious.”

A long ball released Howard charging down the right before Chidi rolled a poor clearance out towards Ronnie Dolan, who cracked a first-time right-footed drive just over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Lydd Town took the lead with 43 minutes and 43 seconds on the clock, as Howard got in between the two Fisher centre-halves to finish emphatically.

King launched a long ball out of defence, the ball was flicked on by an unmarked Adams from outside the box before Howard controlled the ball before emphatically hitting a right-footed shot into the roof of the net from 12-yards to score his seventh goal for the club this season.

“I thought it was a great goal to be fair,” said Porter.

“The diag with Sammy and Troy’s done a header and a great finish.  Troy was a threat all day long and so was Harvey (Welford).  Dean Grant was a threat down the middle, so the front three players their part today but Troy was exceptional today, really exceptional. He was a threat all day long.

“You have to be (clinical) when you’re away from home, you have to be.  If you get a chance, places like this, you’ve got to take them, to take the pressure off.

“The mentality was great. The discipline was good. I said to the boys at the start our discipline needs to be good today because it’s a tough place to come and we’ve showed that today and we took our chances at the right time.

“If you give Fisher an opportunity – because there are a good side – they will punish you and to be fair today we’ve done it the opposite way and we punished them.  To go 2-1 up after being 1-0 down was positive.”

Ashanike said: “Troy, you know what Troy’s going to do anyway.  Troy’s a top player. If he gets in behind you, he’s going to hurt you.  There’s not much we can do with that goal.  It was a flick on and we got caught.  We were losing the ball up the pitch where we should be looking after the ball a lot better but again we’ve got to learn from it.”

Both manager’s were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Ashanike said: “Just the same and not get into stupid battles because if we get into stupid battles with them, then it’s not going to win the game.  We’ve never gone in any battle with any team and won the game.  I don’t think we’ve done that.  We’re very true to ourselves.  We play the way we want to play. We are nice guys on the pitch and off the pitch, so they just need to believe that and play football in the right manner.”

Porter added: “We couldn’t do what we did last week basically because our legs went against Hollands & Blair (during our 2-1 win) last week and we were hanging on a little bit towards the end last week.

“I said to them they’re the things we need to change. We need to manage the game better. We need to stay better organised, we need to be disciplined in our jobs, win our battles and we done that.  That was a massive plus for me today.”

Fisher created the first chance of the second half, with 240 seconds on the clock.

Flynn threw the ball into the left-channel for Ngegba to hold off his marker before prodding the ball inside to Sene-Richardson, whose first time right-footed drive from 20-yards was comfortably saved by the visiting goalkeeper.

“Sam got into good positions, picked up the ball. He’s done really well there to keep it under control at that age, really good,” added the Fisher manager.

Porter added: “You expect them to come out at us and they did.  The first 15 minutes is vital in a game when you’re 2-1 up. The next goal is always going to be a crucial one.  It’s a massive point in a game and we just needed to ride that little bit of pressure out, which we did.”

Visiting goalkeeper Smith rushed off his line towards the edge of his box to grab hold off Ngegba’s left-footed hooked attempt at goal from the edge of the Lydders’ penalty area after Joshua Brown looked destined to be the one to latch onto Adewunmi’s long ball out of defence at the halfway point in the second half.

“I think he should’ve left that for Josh.  Josh was coming through.  I think he should’ve left that for Josh to sort out but he got involved. If you’re going to get involved, you’ve got to score. He’s got to lift it over the keeper, not pass it back to him but that’s another chance,” added Ashanike.

“That’s frustrating to see but the good thing is we’re creating chances.  If you look at the positive thing, I go home happy today, it’s positive.”

Porter added: “Goalkeeper’s are goalkeeper’s aren’t they.  They can be magnificent, they’ve still got that touch of madness in them but Craig’s been a massive, massive plus for us.”

Lydd Town sealed the victory with 25:00 on the clock, when Grant had two bites of the cherry to score in just 16 seconds.

Central midfielder Ronnie Dolan put Grant in on goal but Otuyo rushed off his line to smother the shot before Howard fed the ball back to Grant, who kept composed to beat the offside trap before lifting his right-footed shot over the advancing keeper and into the back of the net.

“Dean was a theat. He occupied the two centre-halves all day long,” said Porter.

“It’s the first time I’ve started him since I’ve been at Lydd because he has had an injury and today I said to him ‘this is your day today and I want you to score goals and work hard and do a little bit of a different job’.

“I said to him to work a little bit harder off the ball and he done that today and he got his rewards and that was a great finish and it took the pressure off and after that we had chance-after-chance.

“We could’ve put the game to bed a little bit easier. We had a few one-on-ones and it was about managing the game and we definitely did that today.”

Ashanike added: “Top finish, top, top finish.  I don’t like them one bit but you have to rate that finish.  That is a great finish from the young man.  It was a good save.  To score in that fashion was class.  Even I clapped for that. It was a great finish, a great finish.”

Referee Richard Myers waved play on after Ronnie Dolan was caught late by Ezekiel Miller inside the Lydd half and this long ball put Grant in behind Flynn but he was thwarted by a fine save from the Fisher keeper.

Lydd Town’s direct approach saw them get in several times and Welford latched onto Moore’s throw-in (and was in space in behind Flynn) but his shot was flicked away by an alert Otuyo.

“They went 4-2-4 so they were missing the middle (of the pitch out) and we’re going long trying to get things and obviously we wanted to pick them off and we did that but the goalkeeper made a couple of good saves and we just had to manage it properly and that’s what we did,” said Porter.

Ashanike added: “Once we gambled, they were always going to catch us at the back. We’ve got enough pace and power to be dealing with one-v-one’s anyway, so I thought we done well with that.  They created less when they scored the third goal because we went 4-2-4 but I’m really proud of the boys.”

Lydd Town – who won the corner-count by 10-4 – were to be denied by the keeper’s legs in the 75th minute after Adams’ corner from the left was cleared out to Welford, whose angled drive from 18-yards flashed through a crowd of players.

Rogers stroked a left-footed free-kick out to an unmarked Welford, who hooked the ball back into the box from the right and Grant took a touch inside the box before dragging his left-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post.

Fisher finished the game with a 4-2-4 formation and right-back turned central midfielder Michael Sarpong put the ball into the Lydd Town box, which was flicked away by Smith in goal but substitute Prince Imoru hit a left-footed half-volley through a crowd of players and also past the far post from 18-yards.

Luke Thomas, who came off the bench to slot in at right-back, put a ball into the penalty area but a poor touch inside the box by winger Darnelle Bailey-King saw the ball bounce across the keeper and behind for a goal-kick at the end.

Glebe remain at the summit with 66 points from their 32 (of 40) league games.

Corinthian (59 points from 28 games), Faversham Town (57 points from 30 games), Deal Town (55 points from 24 games) and Bearsted (53 points from 29 games) remain in the play-off zone tonight.

Whitstable Town (51 points from 30 games), Erith Town (50 points from 27 games), Snodland Town (47 points from 27 games), Lordswood (46 points from 28 games), Punjab United (45 points from 26 games), Lydd Town (44 points from 27 games) and Fisher (38 points from 29 games) make up the top 12.

Fisher make the trip to Snodland Town on Wednesday night. Luke Wallond’s side thrashed Holmesdale 6-2 today, while Rusthall lost 1-0 at Lordswood.

“Like I’ve just said to them in there, it’s going to be the same kind of team. They’re going to go route one. We’ve got to win our own personal battles on a muddy pitch but we did it last Saturday (winning 1-0 at Tunbridge Wells) on a muddy pitch and done really well.

“We can’t train so we’re going straight there so we’ll talk about how we want to beat them.  They’ve not hit their full potential what they can do. They’re a good side, so we have to be ourselves again and just see where it takes us.

“My target is to build for next season.  My target is make sure the likes of Michael Sarpong, Darnelle Bailey-King, a few more to move on and to make sure they’re showing what Fisher means to the youngsters coming in for next season because that’s what you can see now is the youngsters coming in next season.

“Once we get to 40 points then I’m happy. Forty points is the target, so if we get to 40, then we’re good.

“Between myself and Michael Williams I feel we’ve done really well with what we’ve got, what we’re working with.  When I start the season, we judge what success looks for us, we judge it differently to these guys (Lydd Town). 

“Can we move on as many boys as we can? That’s a massive success for us. It gives us joy, that’s like us winning a trophy. If we can get three or four signed to a Step Three or Step Four club then we’re happy.  That’s what we’re looking out for but next season is going to be exciting, really exciting with the new crops coming in, really excited, really excited.”

Ashanike revealed that he is treating their last 11 league outings as a mini-pre-season ahead of next season.

“No one will give these boys 40 games as season but next season we’re looking to give people like Sam Sene-Richardson 40 games a season and we’re bringing them early this season to start for next season. If you start early, everything else becomes easy.

“So the last 13 games I said to Michael we’re making it a mini pre-season and we’ve done it for the last few years, make sure we start off really good, get as many points as we can so we’re off the bottom so now we can build for next season as well.  It’s going to be stressful times for us results wise going to the end of the season but at the start of next season it’s going to be massive joy and that’s when you get the FA Cup and FA Vase, have a good run because they’ve learnt a lot because this is like pre-season, the last 10-15 games, it’s pre-season to us because we’re safe.”

Porter, meanwhile, takes his side to play Rusthall on Tuesday night.  Jimmy Anderson’s side remain second-from-bottom with 18 points from 29 games, two points clear of basement side Welling Town, who suffered a 10-1 humiliation at Hollands & Blair today.

“I’m getting to grips with it now. It’s always tough to come into a side at this stage of the season,” said Porter.

“I know a lot of the boys.  Obviously a lot of the boys are new to me. It’s just them finding my way and me finding their way and getting the balance of it and now we feel like we’re pushing on after the last two results.

“But every game’s a cup final because we want to get into the play-offs. That’s our aim and we’ll be treating it like that. It’s as simple as that.  Win every one. It's as simple as that!

“We’ve got to keep chalking them off. There’s pressure but if you want to be successful you have to deal with pressure and that’s what we’ve got.  Every game is a cup final and we’ve got to make ground on the teams above us and just concentrate on what we have to do.

“Every game is tough in this league. I’ve been around this league for a very long time and I know what it’s all about so today we’ll enjoy today, tomorrow I’ll put a plan in place for Tuesday, address the players’ situation with knocks and niggles and put a team in place to go and get a result at Rusthall.”

When asked what attracted him to leave Hollands & Blair to take over at Lydd Town on 23 January, Porter replied: “The way they’re moving forward.  The players they’ve got. The people who are involved, they want to progress.  They want to keep going. It’s closer to home.  I’ve played for them so there’s a connection there. I know a lot of people down there and it’s a new challenge for me. I’ve got my teeth right into it now.”

Fisher: Muhammed Otuyo, Michael Sarpong, Callum Flynn, Ezekiel Miller (Luke Thomas 79), Mark Chidi, Joseph Adewunmi, Darnelle Bailey-King, Tyron Mbuenimo (Prince Imoru 69), Thomas Ngegba (Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba 76), Samuel Sene-Richardson (Joshua Brown 62), Flavio Jumo (Teddy Jones 68).

Goal: Flavio Jumo 11

Booked: Michael Sarpong 58, Mark Chidi 79

Lydd Town: Craig Smith, Elliott Moore, Robbie Dolan, James Rogers, Ryan Smith (Calvin Sedenu 89), Jahmal King, Harvey Welford (Johan Ter Horst 84), Ronnie Dolan, Dean Grant, Sam Adams (Jamal Lubanga 87), Troy Howard.
Subs: Jack Nelson, Mitch Brundle

Goals: James Rogers 38, Troy Howard 44, Dean Grant 71

Booked: Tom Wynter 88 (assistant manager), Dean Grant 90

Attendance: 189
Referee:  Mr Richard Myers
Assistants: Mr Amari Taylor & Mr Martin Bullock