Fisher 0-3 Welling United - I thought it was a professional performance. It was a proper SAS job tonight. In and out and get the job done, says Welling United boss Warren Feeney

Tuesday 20th September 2022
Fisher 0 – 3 Welling United
Location St Paul's Stadium, Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London SE16 6NT
Kickoff 20/09/2022 19:45

The Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 20 September 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from St Paul’s Stadium

FISHER manager Ajay Ashanike says he is feeling so proud of his boys after their epic eight game run in The FA Cup came to an end thanks to a professional performance from Welling United.

Eighty teams separated fifth-placed Vanarama National League South side Welling United (16 points from eight games) and a Fisher side sitting at the foot of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with two points from their five league games.

Fisher were held to a goal-less draw at home to Sutton Common Rovers in the Extra Preliminary Round, before winning the replay 1-0 in Whyteleafe.

Fisher were then held to a 2-2 home draw by Isthmian League South East Division side Sittingbourne, before winning the replay 1-0 at Woodstock Park.

A 1-1 home draw against same level side Spelthorne Sports followed, before claiming a 4-0 win in the replay in Ashford, Middlesex and Fisher came back from Park View Road with a goal-less draw against a side that are three leagues above them at the weekend.

However, Welling United will now travel to Weymouth (currently bottom of their division with two points from eight games) in the Third Qualifying Round on Saturday 1 October.

Welling United’s first and third goal were both scored from outside the Fisher penalty area.

Taylor Maloney gave Welling United the lead eight minutes before half-time, before centre-half Taofiq Olomowewe tucked home following a corner, before Amadou Kassarate came off the bench to score a flattering third goal at the end.

“I’m so proud of my boys, they’ve done me really, really proud tonight,” said Ashanike, an area manager for a leading bookmaker.

“The scoreline doesn’t reflect how well they’ve played tonight. Three-nil, we’ll take it against a Step Two team.  I can’t complain.  I’m just really, really proud of them.

“They’ve shown me they can play.  They’ve shown that they can compete at this level and for me it’s just the same performance in the league and The FA Vase (that we’re looking for) as well.  We’ve got to show the same determination, not just because we’re playing against Welling United. We’ve got to turn up against anyone and that’s a lesson for them and going forward I believe that we will do really well because they’ve faced and opposition like that and they’ve put them into their place and they’ve done really well with them.”

Welling United’s full-time manager Warren Feeney added: “I thought it was a professional performance from us tonight.  It was a difficult game on Saturday but you want to get in the next round.  Coming here tonight, against a tough team, we’ve done a good job on them and pleased to get into the next round.

“I changed the formation a little bit as well but I think we needed to play with intensity.  We didn’t do it on Saturday. We didn’t move the ball quick enough and I said to them it was about attitude tonight.  No disrespect to Fisher, if you have the right attitude the quality comes out in the end.

“Yesterday we paid our respects to Her Majesty and rightly so. It was a sad day for all but I had the boys in last night training because I’m not a believer in going into the games without training, so fair play to them.

“We paid our respects during the day and I think getting them in and getting them on the training park yesterday also helped.  It helped because you’re not going into the game without training the players.”

The Belfast, Northern Ireland born 41-year-old added: “I thought it was a professional performance. It was a proper SAS job tonight.  In and out and get the job done!”

Welling United started the game on the front foot, creating their first opening after only 136 seconds.

Attacking midfielder Maloney stroked a right-footed free-kick towards the near corner from 35-yards, which should have been caught in the midriff of Fisher goalkeeper Samuel Amedu, but he spilt the ball and managed to scramble the ball around his near post.

“We had to take the game to them. I said ‘look, if we can get one or two up in the first 10 minutes and we probably should (have been), but the pleasing thing was it was a 90 minute game of football and we got there in the end,” added Feeney.

Welling United captain James Dunne played a short free-kick into Maloney, who fed left-back Chi Ezennolim, who whipped in a great cross from within the left channel towards the near post and a diving header from Fisher centre-half Sam Fitzgerald almost screamed into his own goal from inside the six-yard box but the former Leyton Orient goalkeeper reacted superbly to keep the ball out as he got down swiftly to his right.

“I keep saying to everyone losing Tommy Taylor (to league rivals Rusthall), I thought we would never find a keeper like him again but to get someone like Sam is out of this planet, really out of this planet,” said Ashanike.

“Sam is absolutely class at the back. He gives more confidence to everyone around him and he gives them a massive boost.  It’s absolutely different class to have Sam and I keep saying it in every interview, we’re lucky to have him at the club.”

Ashanike was concerned when he lost striker Malachi Hudson to a reoccurring knee ligament injury after only 16 minutes.

“Malachi’s done his ligament in his knee. We’ll check him out. He’s going to have an X-Ray tomorrow and see how he goes.  It’s the same knee that he’s just come back from so hopefully it’s not too long, it doesn’t look good,” revealed Ashanike.

Welling United won the corner-count by 8-3 and went close following their fourth delivery inside nineteen minutes.

Devonte Aransibia’s left-footed corner was met at the near post by Tyrique Hyde, who found a pocket of space at the near post to sweep his first-time shot past the near post.

However, Fisher should have snatched the lead with their first chance of the night in the 28th minute following a set-piece of their own.

Central midfielder Michael Sarpong whipped in a quality delivery in from the left with his right-foot and combative attacking midfielder Emmanuel Shoderu’s free header was plucked out of the air by visiting goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle, who has nine Guyana international caps to his name.

“I think he was a bit rash on that.  I believe he could’ve had more time, no one was marking, it was a free header and I expect him to score there,” said Ashanike.

“There’s no excuses there, no matter what keeper is in goal. He should be putting it away.  He heads it to the keeper and we didn’t really work him, the keeper, as much as I wanted to work him.”

Welling United took a deserved lead with 36 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Fisher failed to press the two Welling United centre-halves as they exchanged passes inside their own half and Manny Parry was allowed to dribble the ball towards the half-way line.

He drilled a right-footed ball towards the D where striker Antony Papadopoulos took a touch (with Fisher centre-half Joseph Adewunmi close behind him) and laid the ball back for Maloney, to clinically drill a left-footed angled drive across the keeper nestling inside the bottom far corner from 25-yards.

Feeney said: “You know what, he’s top quality Taylor.  He’s got a great strike on him.  On Saturday, his quality wasn’t there but it’s a great finish. He’s caught it sweet.   I said it was just his performance all round.”

Ashanike said: “It’s something that we spoke about in the changing room about the back four staying as a back four and not coming out at all.

“Sam got carried away because the first press wasn’t there from Malachi because Malachi wasn’t on the pitch and Ryan Atkinson didn’t really want to press him and Sam got a little bit eager.  That’s his first mistake that he’s made over the two games and we’ve been punished.  That just shows the level they play at.  If you make mistakes, they will punish you.”

Welling United’s right-back Aaron Barnes slipped a 10-yard pass in behind Fisher left-back Prince Imoru for winger Aransibia to play in a low cross towards the near post where five-goal Ade Azeez flicked his first-time shot into the side netting from inside the six-yard box.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Ashanike said: “Just to go for it! It doesn’t matter if we lost five or six-nil.  We’re in the Cup, we ain’t had a shot because we’ve been playing so safe and we just came out openly.

“We knew the scoreline would be embarrassing if we did come out fully but we did come out fully (later on in the second half) and we got a reward for it. We had a couple of chances in the second half to try to even it up.”

Feeney added: “I said don’t let off. You’ve got to play on the front foot. You’ve got to show more intensity. I said the next goal is going to be the crucial one and we’ve got to make sure it’s ours and just keep going.”

Welling United started the second half on the front foot and Ezennolim hung over a cross from within the left-channel, which sailed over Amedu’s head and bounced against the top of the crossbar and dropped behind for a Fisher goal-kick just 112 seconds in.

Fisher’s first shot on target arrived just 97 seconds before clinical Welling United doubled their lead.

Fisher’s holding midfielder Nader Zeddini played a 20-yard pass inside to the unmarked Sarpong, who unleashed a right-footed drive towards the bottom left-hand corner from 30-yards.

Goalkeeper McKenzie-Lyle dived to his right and the ball bounced just in front of him and he managed to scramble the ball behind for a corner.

“That’s not a bad shot to be fair,” said Ashanike.

“On another day the keeper parries it in, so we’re talking about a different game then when it goes to one-all. We were so unlucky not to score there.”

Welling United finished the game with their fourth clean sheet in the bag, pleasing their manager.

“I’ve watched Fisher a couple of times and they’re a difficult team.  It’s the joys of the Cup but we like clean-sheets.  Our boys have got four clean-sheets on the spin now and that was the most important thing tonight, to get another one.

Feeney added: “I’ve got two very, very good keepers here.  Kai’s come in (for these two games against Fisher) and I’m pleased with him. That’s two clean-sheets from him.

“We’ve got Myles Roberts from Watford – but that’s his job to make those saves. It's difficult playing on this Astroturf but as I said it sets the tone whenever you see the goalkeeper defending his goal and the big man done that well tonight.”

Welling United notched their second goal of the night, with 11 minutes and 38 seconds on the clock, following their final corner.

This time it was taken by Hyde, who whipped the ball in from the left and the ball fell to Olomowewe who stabbed the ball into the back of the net.

Feeney said: “I think it was Taofiq who got the second one in the corner. We’ve scored a few set-plays this year and may it continue.

“We do work on them and when you’ve got two big boys like that there, you do want to get a goal. It’s pleasing that it went in the net.”

“The referee is someone I know really well so I’m not going to say nothing negative about Farai (Hallam, a former footballer, who played in these parts under Keith McMahon at Thamesmead Town), but I believe that’s a foul on the keeper,” claimed Ashanike.

“Sam is going to come out and Ade (Azeez) has actually blocked him off so I believe that was a foul but it is what it is and we’ve got to learn from it so next time someone has got to protect Sam more.”

Ashanike threw on his assistant manager, big targetman Luke With in the 62nd minute and he played a part in Fisher creating an opening towards the halfway mark of the second half.

With’s flick on standing on the halfway line released Isaac Thompson, who cracked a right-footed drive from 25-yards, which was tipped over the bar by the outstretched fingertips of the Welling United goalkeeper.

Welling United enjoyed a spell off possession inside the Fisher half and the ball was worked to Kassarate who fed Maloney, whose right-footed drive from 25-yards was comfortably saved by Amedu.

Fisher’s back-four was superbly marshalled by Fitzgerald and Adewunmi, 20, and the Fisher manager expects to lose Adewunmi to a higher-league club on a free transfer shortly, especially after another impressive performance here tonight.

“Our defensive shape has been class,” said Ashanike.

“We’re bottom of the SCEFL, which is something that doesn’t reflect what we’ve been doing.

“Massive credit goes to Sam (Fitzgerald) and Joseph (Adewunmi) because they’ve done really, really well this season, especially Joseph.

“As I say to everyone, Joseph doesn’t deserve to be at Step Five.  Joseph needs to be playing full-time football and he’s only 20 and he’s still got a long way to go. 

“He’s really, really strong, quick and he wins all of his headers and I can’t say nothing more about him – he’s just a different level.”

Fisher are a club that do not pay their players and Ashanike is keen to get the centre-half a move further up the pyramid.

“That’s the plan, that’s what we do here.  For me, it’s not about winning the league, it’s about progressing the boys and the last couple of boys we’ve progressed about 10 boys into Step Two or Step Three football.

“My project is to get Joseph in there this year so I’ve got a project every year and Joseph is my project this year to get at least Step Two or Step Four football.

“There were a few scouts here tonight.  Joseph has been outstanding again.  He’s someone who shouldn’t be at this level.  I don’t believe he will be here at the end of the season. If he does, then we’ve done something wrong with him.”

McKenzie-Lyle lined up a two-man wall and he made a comfortable save low to his right to prevent Ryan Atkinson’s whipped left-footed free-kick from the corner of the penalty area finding the bottom far corner.

Ashanike said: “The keeper’s top class isn’t he?  He’s played for clubs like Liverpool and Barnet so he knows his stuff. He’s done really well. He’s had good coaching under him as well, so you can just tell by the way they’ve played, the way their boys carry themselves, they’re ex-pros and for us to compete with them, I can’t be more happy than that.”

Fisher kept plugging away and Thomson, who found well-built left-back Ezennolim a tough cookie to get past, did manage to cut onto his left-foot before cracking a 20-yard drive towards the roof of the net, only for the six foot five commanding goalkeeper to comfortably pluck the ball out of the air.

Ashanike said: “I believe they’re full-time, everyone’s saying they’re full-time and it’s really hard to play against boys who are full-time.  You can tell, they’re built like a brickhouse there.  They’re a different level and they’ve got a top gaffer and the coaching staff have been amazing to us.  We’ll learn a lot from them and we’ll take what we’ve learn from them and take it back to our league and see where it takes us.”

Welling United grabbed a third goal with 46 minutes and 11 seconds on the clock, to give the scoreline a flattering look.

The impressive Maloney played the ball into Kassarate who turned and drilled a right-footed shot across the keeper and nestling inside the bottom far corner from 22-yards as Welling United rarely got in behind a well-organised Fisher defence.

Feeney said: “It was a fantastic turn and strike. It was like a striker to be honest, so it was pleasing. I would’ve been happy with one but I was pleased with the performance and the win today.”

Ashanike added: “It’s something that we’ve been working on so credit to Luke With, Michael Williams and Jordan Darwish.  They’ve been working on pattern of play and they work hard at it every week to try to get the best out of the boys. We’ve just come up short today.

“They came here, I knew from the word go that it was going to be difficult, it’s going to be harder than Saturday because they didn’t know much about us but now they’ve got to digest what we’re about and what hard work we can give and that third goal was just unlucky. What can you do really? It’s a great finish from outside the box again.

“We can’t complain about the goals they’ve scored because they’re a different level to us.”

Fisher crash back down to earth with a trip to Ladywell Arena to play First Division side Forest Hill Park in The FA Vase Second Qualifying Round on Saturday, before welcoming league leaders Erith & Belvedere to St Paul’s next Tuesday night.

Welling United, meanwhile, are at home to second-placed Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday – a side that beat Hungerford Town 4-1 last time out – before hosting Dover Athletic on Tuesday 27 September.

“Weymouth is going to be another tough one but we’ve got two big games before that. We’ve got Havant & Waterlooville and Dover Athletic. It’s great to be in the next round but we’ll put that in the back of the book at this moment and focus on Saturday,” said Feeney, who is very pleased with his side’s start to their league campaign.

“I think we’re ahead of schedule (especially when) you look at where we were last year.

“The new board have backed me. We needed to turn this around and get a team that’s going to be playing and I’m really, really pleased with the start.  There’s a long way to go.”

The visit of Welling United attracted this current Fisher’s record attendance to St Paul’s Stadium of 573 fans.

The club have made £5,944 in prize money from their FA Cup run, plus £550 from their win over Oakwood in The FA Vase First Qualifying Round, not including all the shared gate receipts.

“Playing on Saturday and getting a draw and bringing them back here to generate a bit more income for the club was exactly what we wanted to do,” added Ashanike.

“It’s a little club, the boys don’t get paid, no one gets paid at the club, everyone’s just volunteers and that money will help the club move in the right direction.

“The boys have done us proud and all we can do right now is thank them for what they have done in this FA Cup.  We asked for a good Cup run and they gave us a great Cup run.”

Feeney, meanwhile, enjoyed a night which sums up why The FA Cup is so loved by people up and down the country, especially those within non-league circles.

“I listened to the radio today and the Premier League clubs are thinking about scrapping FA Cup replays, which would be poor for the lower teams because that’s what we rely on for money but it annoys me when people disrespect The FA Cup.

“The FA Cup is a great tournament. It’s a major Cup, there’s some great history in it, night’s like this, a weekend like this, the upsets. We thrive on the lower clubs. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to get to the Final with Cardiff City but we thrive on nights like this to try to make money.  It would be a sad day if something like that (scrapping FA Cup replay’s) ever happened.

“The most important thing on the business side was the fans came out to support their team. It was a great atmosphere and a great Cup tie.”

Feeney, meanwhile, had this message to Ashanike and his Fisher side after negotiating a tricky tie at the second attempt.

“If you play like that – I don’t know why you’re bottom, you’re winning the league and that’s the joys of The FA Cup because it excites them, a game like this here.  They’ve just got to get that consistency and I wish them all the best for the season.”

Fisher: Samuel Amedu, Luke Thomas, Prince Imoru, Nader Zeddini (Darnel Bromfield 54), Sam Fitzgerald, Joseph Adewunmi, Isaac Thompson, Michael Sarpong, Malachi Coker (Ryan Atkinson 16), Emmanuel Shoderu, Tamas Amgbaduba (Luke With 62).
Subs: Dennis Asante, James Poole, Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba, Patrick Hoy

Booked: Nader Zeddini 48

Welling United: Kai McKenzie-Lyle, Aaron Barnes, Chi Ezennolim, James Dunne, Manny Parry, Taofiq Olomowewe, Ade Azeez (Cameron Andrew 90), Tyrique Hyde, Antony Papadopoulos (Palace Francis 68), Taylor Maloney, Devonte Aransibia (Amadou Kassarate 73).
Subs: Myles Roberts, Stefan Payne, Tom Dickens, Rob Howard

Goals: Taylor Maloney 37, Taofiq Olomowewe 57, Amadou Kassarate 90

Attendance: 573
Referee: Mr Farai Hallam
Assistants: Mr Daniel Procter & Mr Michael Butcher