Fisher 1-1 Millwall - Staying up on a £300 a week budget is success, says Fisher boss Dean Harrison
Fisher 1 – 1 Millwall
|Location||St Paul's Stadium, Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London SE16 6NT|
FISHER 1-1 MILLWALL
Tuesday 17 July 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from St Paul’s Stadium
FISHER manager Dean Harrison says a successful season will be keeping the club in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division on a £300 a week playing budget.
Harrison guided the cash-strapped club back in to the top-flight after sealing promotion from the First Division by finishing in third-place behind Punjab United and K Sports with the same budget.
The Fish began their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 home win over Sussex side Peacehaven & Telscombe on Saturday and Harrison used 17 players against Millwall’s under 18’s here tonight.
The Lions were gifted the lead, scored on the stroke of half-time by striker George Alexander, the son of former Millwall striker and now Ashford United manager Gary.
Fisher deserved to share the local bragging rights in front of a disappointing low crowd of 233, as central midfielder Rob Brown smashed in a free-kick early in the second half.
“I thought it was a really nice game to watch from the side. It wasn’t an end-to-end game with lots and lots of chances but I thought it was a nice technical and tactical game of football and I thought one-all was a fair result,” said Harrison.
“You get so much out of it, you’re playing against boys who have been coached and are training every day by top quality coaches at a top club so to play against their passing and the tactical side that they bring as well is a really good test for us.
“They move the ball well, the surface suited them and it’s really good to play against teams like that.
“We take a lot of strength from tonight with our shape and the way we dealt with it.
“I take lots of positives. I thought we were good attacking, we were better in the first half, I thought, but we did ok. We dealt with most of their threats.”
Fisher created the game’s first opening inside the opening three minutes when striker Sam Pekun and central midfielder Calum Crawley produced a slick passing move and Rob Brown’s right-footed drive sailed harmlessly over the crossbar from 30-yards.
Both sides were keeping the ball on the deck and Millwall central midfielder Reuben Duncan dropped deep to pull the strings.
Millwall’s final ball often lacked quality and was overhit on a handful of occasions, leaving Fisher keeper Daniel Carpanini untroubled.
Fisher produced a great move down the right in the 19th minute which didn’t trouble visiting goalkeeper Joe Wright.
A free-kick from Fisher right-back Pat Geddis wasn’t cut out by Lions’ central defender Besart Topalloj, who was a weak link in the air. Fisher built down the right with Pekun and Jamie Brown and Crawley cut inside to feed Rob Brown, who turned Sam Skeffington to sweep his left-footed shot past the far post from 20-yards.
“It was a lovely move. We had a couple of little bits like that,” said Harrison.
“We work on our combination play in the final third and we like to pop it off and create chances like that, so it was nice to see. He was unlucky, he couldn’t hit the target, but it was a nice move.”
Fisher kept their young opponents out of harms way but in the 28th minute Duncan’s through ball to the impressive Billy Mitchell, was gathered by the quick thinking from Carpanini.
Fisher were enjoying a decent spell around the half-hour mark and went close to scoring from a trademark free-kick from Ritchie Hamill, who played at left-back for the first 70 minutes before slotting into midfield.
Hamill’s stroked a sublime left-footed free-kick, which just cleared the top of the crossbar from 25-yards.
“He had one Saturday in exactly the same place where he hit the underside of the bar and it come out,” recalled Harrison.
“His free-kicks on the edge of the box are fantastic. He’s unlucky. He’s going to find his range soon. He’s a very nice player, lovely player. He’s pretty much a seven-out-of-10 every week. You know what you’re going to get out of him.”
Millwall captain Mitchell, who showed some classy touches out on the left flank, played the ball into Duncan and Jay Barton, brought the ball under his spell from 30-yards but his right-footed drive flashed across the keeper and past the far post.
A dinked, deep cross from right-back Lewis West, who liked to get forward, was put back into the Fisher box by Mitchell but substitute Sean O’Brien couldn’t hook the bouncing ball past Carpanini.
However, some poor defending from Fisher gifted Millwall the lead with 43 minutes and 51 seconds on the clock.
Harrison was bitterly disappointed with his central defensive captain Luke Haidarovic, who was caught by playing out from the back and Millwall ensured the mistake was punished severely.
Duncan rolled the ball into O’Brien, who played the ball on his outside to Alexander, who dinked his hooked shot across Carpanini to find the bottom far corner from eight-yards.
Harrison said: “We don’t play out from the back! It’s drummed into the boys. We do NOT do it!
“I watch match-of-the-day every week, I watch the World Cup. I watch teams trying to play out from the back and they come unstruck and concede goals, so we do not do it!
“He’s taken a roasting in the dressing room for doing that. He knows he’s wrong. A minute to go until half-time and it was just a ridiculous thing to do, to play in those areas, it’s something that we’ll have to learn from.
“It was a gift! They didn’t have a chance before that. We defended really well and then we gifted them a goal. They came in with their heads down at half-time but there were so many positives to take out of the first half. We just had to come back out again.”
Reflecting on his side’s first half performance, Harrison added: “I thought we were playing really well. We were trying to play in the right areas, our defensive shape was good.
“Millwall came out moving the ball really well at the start and I thought we were going to have a problem here. We made a couple of changes in the midfield, chopped a couple of boys about, just adjusted and I felt we dealt with it really well first half.”
Fisher made a goalkeeping change at the interval and brought on Spanish stopper Luis Velay-Vivel, while their five outfield substitutes came on for the final 20 minutes, when Millwall stamped their authority on the game.
Fisher deservedly equalised just five minutes and 15 seconds into the second half.
Rob Brown drilled his right-footed free-kick through the Millwall wall from 25-yards in a central position and watched substitute goalkeeper Leighton Fanshawe allow the stinging drive slip through his fingers and bounce into the back of the net.
“It went through the keeper a little bit but plenty of power on the shot, if you hit the target that’s what can happen,” said Harrison.
“He hit it really well, created it as well, he won the free-kick on the edge of the box, so I think he had a decent game as well Rob.”
Fisher winger Trey Small, who was later withdrawn with cramp, whipped in a quality cross from the left but Jamie Brown’s flicked the ball over the crossbar at the near post.
Fisher keeper Veelay-Vivel staked his claims for a first team place when he pulled off a great save in the 58th minute.
Barton whipped in a superb free-kick into the corridor of uncertainty and Alexander poked his shot towards the bottom left-hand corner, only for a combination of post then the keeper to prevent a certain goal.
Harrison said: “He looks like a decent keeper, he’s new to us. I gave the keeper’s a half each tonight, I did that on Saturday as well. He looks like a nice keeper Luis. He came over from Spain recently, so he’s working, we’re getting International Clearance now so hopefully it’s here before the start of the season.”
Having earlier been substituted, Millwall wanted to bring Muller, Skeffington and Harry Taylor, back on to the pitch on the hour-mark but referee Wally James explained that roll-on-roll-off substitutions were not allowed.
“They wanted to roll-on-roll-off which wasn’t spoken about before the game but it’s a friendly and I’ve got no problem with that,” explained Harrison.
“They’re young lads, the Millwall lads and he said they had a couple of concerns with boys coming back from injury so if they want to get them off and get boys on that was fine with me. The ref didn’t want him to do it but we spoke to him and convinced him really that both parties were happy, so I didn’t have a problem at all.”
Crawley gave the ball away in the final third and O’Brien played the ball into Barton but substitute George Brevett dragged his left-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 22-yards in the 65th minute.
At the second drinks break, Harrison brought on his five outfield players and lone striker Alvin Macauley was living off scraps in a 4-5-1 formation.
Harrison said: “It’s hard when you make that amount of changes with 20 minutes to go. Millwall got the ascendancy from that. I just said to the boys what I was really pleased with was our defensive shape. We defended the edge of the area really well and to make that amount of changes and still be so disciplined with our shape, I was really pleased with that.”
Brevett cut into the Fisher box down the right-hand side and his curling shot towards the top far corner forced Velay-Vivel to palm the ball towards safety while diving to his right.
Jacob Munting cracked a right-footed drive dipping just over the Fisher crossbar from 30-yards as the game entered the final 15 minutes.
Fisher central midfielder Joe Richardson stung Fanshawe’s finger-tips with a hooked volley from 30-yards.
Hamill’s run took him to the left-by-line but his low centre bounced off Pekun at the near post and flashed just past the foot of the near post, leaving the returning striker with his head in his hands in despair.
Fisher almost stole it at the death when Hamill’s whipped in another quality free-kick from the right but Tim Moffatt’s slight touch at the near post ensured the ball sailed into the hands of the Millwall keeper.
Harrison said it’s a nice feeling to be unbeaten at this stage of pre-season.
“It’s always said, it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t really. The results are not the most important thing. It’s about performance and you’re working on things going into the season but it’s always nice to get a result. No one wants to lose, it doesn’t matter what game it is, so it’s always a nice thing. It’s not the be all and end all though.”
Fisher host Stansted here on Saturday, Epsom & Ewell next Tuesday, before travelling to Bromley to play Kent County League Premier Division newcomers Bromleians on Saturday 28 July.
League Fixtures are going to be published tomorrow lunchtime but Harrison laid his cards on the table when it came to aspirations for the season ahead.
“Aspirations? I mean, staying up is key but midtable would be lovely and a nice cup run would be a good season for us, I think.
“Hopefully we can consolidate this year, keep the team up healthily and then next year hopefully get some money from somewhere and start looking to push on and strengthen the club.”
Not many managers in non-league football reveal their playing budget during a post-match press conference.
“300 a week, the same we had last year, exactly the same,” said the Fisher boss.
“It’s not a lot of money. It’s tough. What we try to do here is create a good environment, create a good dressing room. The coaching is good and just try to get the boys to enjoy it and enjoy their football.
“Whereas you get a lot of boys who go to other clubs with money where they purely play for the money not particularly enjoying their football, happy to take the money every week. That’s when teams can come unstuck sometimes against us.”
A £300 budget is not enough at this level of football and Harrison has challenged local businesses to support the club that plays in the ninth-tier of English football.
“Come and watch the games, come through the gates, spend some money at the club. Can you sponsor, can you buy a board around the pitch, an advert in the programme, just get involved. Just help the club. It’s a great club, it just needs some help. The people here running the club are doing their level best to keep it afloat and do what they can but it really needs help.”
When asked what a successful season would be at Salter Road, Harrison replied: “Staying up is success, midtable would be great but staying up is success. Looking to get good foundations in the Premier again and looking to push on next year.”
Fisher: Daniel Carpanini (Luis Velay-Vivel 46), Pat Geddis (Harvey Brinkley 70), Ritchie Hamill, Joe Richardson, George Ede, Luke Haidarovic, Jamie Brown (Jobi Adigun 70), Calum Crawley (Tim Moffatt 70), Sam Pekun (Alvin Macauley 70), Rob Brown (Harry King 70), Trey Small (Sam Pekun 77).
Goal: Rob Brown 51
Booked: Trey Small 29
Millwall: Joe Wright (Leighton Fanshawe 46), Lewis West (Ben Bennett 42), Chibuike Ezennolim, Reuben Duncan (Jacob Munting 46), Hayden Muller (Alex Mitchell 33), Besart Topalloj, Sam Skeffington (George Brevett 46), Jay Barton (Reuben Duncan 70), George Alexander, Harry Taylor (Sean O’Brien 33), Billy Mitchell.
Goal: George Alexander 44
Booked: Joe Wright 35
Referee: Mr Wally James (Sidcup)
Assistants: Mr Paul Greenfield (Eltham, London SE9) & Mr Daniel Wyatt (Queensbury, London HA7)