Holmesdale 1-1 Fisher - If the boys want to be in the top five they've got to be coming to clubs like this and winning, says Fisher boss Ajay Ashanike

Wednesday 15th September 2021
Holmesdale 1 – 1 Fisher
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 15/09/2021 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 15 September 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

FISHER manager Ajay Ashanike says his side has got to come to clubs like Holmesdale and win if they are to achieve their target of finishing in the top five in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division this season.


This was a hard-fought local derby at Oakley Road in Bromley and after a goal-less first-half stalemate, Fisher grabbed the lead through left-back Temiloluwa Oladejo’s fine finish.

Holmesdale lost right-back Jamie Rawsthorne to a straight red-card on the hour mark but they showed character to claim a deserved point when left-winger Owen Punselie scored his fifth goal of the season.

“I believe we should have won the game,” said Ashanike.

“Obviously, second half they had 10 men and we scored first. We should’ve controlled the game a lot better than we did. We gave it away.

Reflecting on the cagey nature of the first-half, Ashanike replied: “That was the plan. That was the game plan, give them nothing to work with and I thought we had the odd chance to break through.  There was nothing in the first half but that was just the plan and we done really well with the plan.”

Holmesdale manager Lee Roots added: “I thought, on the whole, we’ll be happy with a point after going down to 10 men, unfortunately.

“I thought maybe for the possession of play that we could’ve got a win but I think overall on the context of play, a draw is about right and we’re quite happy with that.

“I thought we dominated possession in the first half in good areas.  We tried to have our overloads out wide but just unable to create chances.  We felt it was quite compact and quite busy through the middle and they defended their lines pretty well in that regard and I think the most frustrating thing for us in the first half that we were so dominant but they limited us to clear-cut chances, so fair play to them.

“Ajay is a good gaffer. I think he’s a tough gaffer, similar to myself and I think both sides maybe represented that and I feel that it did have that derby feel to it. It certainly had that through the game.  Even though I don’t feel there is any huge issue between the clubs, it had a good feel to it. I enjoyed it.”

The crowd of 115 were treated to a poor game of football where defences were dominant and neither side could create many clear-cut goalscoring chances.

Holmesdale created an opening after only 164 seconds following a set-piece.

Nathan Palmer drilled in a free-kick from the left and Andy Constable’s knock-down gave Punselie a chance but he scuffed his shot straight at visiting goalkeeper Daniel Carpanini.

“Andy Constable’s assets is clear to see. A fantastic ball into Owen’s path, unlucky really. I think if that’s maybe 10 minutes in and he’s a bit more fluid in the game he hits that and it goes straight in.  He just kind of scuffs it,” said Roots.

Fisher striker Lee Weemes played in his strike partner Dennis Asante, whose shirt was pulled by Holmesdale centre-half John Foster and referee Jack Owen presented the away side with a set-piece opportunity on the edge of the D.

However, Oladejo drilled his left-footed free-kick into the wall, with Foster taking the brunt as he was knocked over and received treatment by the force of the shot.

“They pulled Dennis back in the first half, which I believe that’s a red-card straight away,” admitted Ashanike, who was probably as stunned as everybody else that the Holmesdale centre-half didn’t even get a yellow card for his last-man tug.

Holmesdale went close to taking the lead in the 11th minute following their first of five corners.

Palmer swung the ball in from the right and target-man Constable, the oldest current player in the division at the age of 42, looped his near-post header towards goal, which was cleared off the line.

“We started to work a new corner routine since we signed Andy (from FC Elmstead) two weeks ago and we’ve had a lot of games in that period so it was nice to start working that,” said Roots.

“That’s what you’ve got to do when you’ve got such an aerial threat in your team. I thought it was a good header, it looked like it was going in from my angle, so I’m not sure if it beat the keeper or the keeper pelted it away but it was definitely off the line.”

Holmesdale bossed the possession stakes during the first half and often hit long diagonal passes out of defence to utilise right-winger Ola Rabiu but end product was often lacking.

Ashanike added: “That was the game plan, as long as we give less chances that’s what we wanted to do. Lots of teams are going to have more possession, but it’s what they do with the possession.  But defensively I believe we were too solid. We can’t lose games if we defend the way we defended so that’s a positive thing to take away from today’s game.”

A quickly taken free-kick from Holmesdale centre-half James Shield fed Palmer down the left and he released Punselie who cut inside before drilling his shot into the base of the side netting.

Fisher almost grabbed the lead, against the run of play, following their first attack in the 33rd minute.

Oladejo looped a throw into the Holmesdale box, the ball was flicked on by Weemes and central midfielder Jacob Katonia struck a first-time right-footed drive from 25-yards, which left goalkeeper Nathan Edwards rooted to the spot, only for the ball to kiss the outside of the foot of the right-hand post and go behind for a goal-kick.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to work on in the last couple of weeks, to have runners off the ball and Jacob’s done really well there, said Ashanike.

“We were really unlucky not to hit the target there. That was a good move for us and on another day if that goes in we’re on top.”

Roots added: “That was probably their first attempt or their first real major attempt of the half and it was kind of against-the-run-of-play.

“It was a good shot from the lad. Nathan’s got his feet stuck, he couldn’t even get to it if he tried but it hits the post and bounces out but I wasn’t too fussed by that – but you’re going to have that against a side that can create.”

A poor first-half came to an end with fans hoping for better attacking play for the second half.

Roots said: “We felt good in possession but needed to create more clear-cut chances. We felt that there was an entry behind a certain player that we could target. It was very much no clear-cut chances in the first half and stay as you are and continue the work.

“We were particularly happy at half-time. We felt maybe we could play with a little bit more tempo across the back. I felt our movements from the midfield and the rotation and the patterns of play going wide were good and we wanted more tempo, more urgency, more concentration. We were looking to get the next goal, which obviously didn’t happen.”

Ashanike added: “In the second half we have to step forward a bit more, step five, step 10, wherever they feel comfortable with and they did that and we got into their face.”

Holmesdale created an opening after just 67 seconds when Constable’s cushioned header fell to Palmer, who sliced a poor shot with his right-boot from 30-yards, which went harmlessly wide of the target.

Fisher grabbed the lead, however, with four minutes and 46 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Joseph Adewunmi hit a diagonal pass out of defence and  central midfielder Julio Da Mata’s initial cross from the left was charged down and Oladejo drilled his left-footed angled drive across the flat-footed keeper and arrowing into the bottom far corner from 16-yards.

“Temi got the knockdown to get the rebound of Julio’s cross to put it away and that’s a good goal by the way as well,” said Ashanike.

“We’ll take that all day long, as long as it’s hitting the target, I think he will score as well, so it was a good thing.”

Roots said: “You’ve got to give credit to the lad for the hit.  I don’t know if it’s a cross-come-shot but it’s a fantastic hit.  He’s a good player, good ping on him.

“Should it go in? No! It’s a shot from the edge of the box. We don’t always ask our wingers to track all of the way to the edge of the box. We ask our defenders to take responsibility from there. Maybe someone could have got out quicker to block the shot. It’s a disappointing one from us but a good finish from the lad but it could have been prevented.”

Holmesdale were inches away from equalising when they produced a slick one-touch passing move inside the final third of the pitch involving Rawsthorne, Nad Nwitua, Palmer and Rabiu before Palmer’s first-time right-footed shot curled agonisingly around the base of the far post from 22-yards.

“I thought that was a really nice move and we played one touch and it dropped back to Nathan.  It was a good shot by Nathan and even at that point if we carried on in that vein I felt a goal would come,” said Roots.

Holmesdale were reduced to 10 men on the hour-mark when referee Jack Owen pulled out a red-card after Rawsthorne slid in and made contact with left-winger Swaby on the touchline.

Ashanike and his dug-out screamed out their disgust following the tackle and once the melee calmed down, the referee issued Holmesdale’s second red-card in as many games as Rory Ward was sent-off during their 3-0 defeat at Chatham Town at the weekend.

“I believe it’s a red card. A lot of teams that we play now just want to smash the lad badly but the kid done really well, he rode the tackle but 100% it’s a red card,” added Ashanike.

Roots gave his thoughts on the incident.

“I can understand the decision. I can understand the reactions from their staff and players. I don’t think Jamie’s gone in with any intent to hurt the player. I think he slips in transition for the tackle and I think he’s certainly gone in to win the ball but obviously being right on the touchline it’s looked a lot worse than what it is and he’s gone through their player and I don’t think the referee had much option to make a decision from that point.

“For us, it’s disappointing. Jamie’s a very honest player, maybe he could’ve stayed up on his feet a little bit longer and didn’t need to go to ground but I’ve got no complaints really.”

However, Roots moved holding midfielder Ward into right-back and went about their business as they searched for an equaliser.

It arrived with 19 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock, following a set-piece.

Palmer floated in a right-footed free-kick some 35-yards from goal, the ball sailed over the head of a jumping Constable and Punselie ghosted in to smash a first-time shot past Carpanini at his near post from six-yards.

“A good goal from Owen. The lads didn’t panic. We didn’t hit the panic button, they kept playing and I think you want to try to recover and get the next goal as quickly as you can, which we did and it settled us,” said Roots.

“As funny as it sounds, going down to 10 was one of the best things that could’ve happened to us in that period and it gave us more energy to go for the next goal.

“Owen’s doing really well, he’s a great lad and he was on the books of Dulwich Hamlet. We played Dulwich’s under 23s a couple of years ago and he ripped us apart.  Their first-team are very keen on him and he’s been away from there now for a year.

“He’s a fantastic player, he's honest and he can play through the middle or he can play wide.  He’s energetic and the committee and the players love him and he’s delivering goals. He probably could’ve scored more and he feels frustrated by that but it’s a learning curve but we’re really happy with him.”

Ashanike added: “We shouldn’t be conceding goals like that to be fair. We should be able to defend a lot better than that. The team defended really well but to let that goal in was really disappointing from the boys.  I’ve told them in there that we have to do a lot better than that.  It was a simple basic free-kick coming in and we should be dealing with it.”

Both sides had chances to steal the victory inside the final 20 minutes.

Palmer fed Punselie who cut inside and curled his left-footed shot agonisingly past the foot of the far post from 30-yards, having beaten the diving goalkeeper.

Roots said: “I felt at that point we were in full flow. You wouldn’t have known who had 10 and who didn’t at that point. I think the way that we were playing we could create a chance every time we were going forward at that point. Owen and Palmer, when they link up because of their place, it’s hard to stop.”

Ashanike added: “It’s always difficult with 10 men because they’ve got nothing to lose so they just went for it, which is always difficult to play against.  It was a good chance but I thought the keeper had it covered.”

Fisher changed their front two with Weemes and Asante making way and substitute Frederick Agyemang squandered a great chance to win it when he was released down the right and dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post.

“I thought Fred should be scoring those kind of chances. It’s one-on-one with the keeper, there was no pressure on him and he should be putting that one away,” admitted the Fisher boss.

“For a striker that is a massive miss for us. If he scores that, we go home with three points.”

Fisher had one final chance at the end of a drab game when Oladejo launched a free-kick forward from the centre-circle, the ball was knocked down and fell to an unmarked Adewunmi, who unleashed a left-footed drive towards the bottom far corner from 25-yards, forcing Edwards to get down low to his right to use a strong hand to push the ball towards safety.

“That was a good save by the keeper. It was a good save. Again that could’ve won the game for us so we did have chances but we were just unlucky today not to get all three points today,” said Ashanike.

Roots added: “As you get to that end part of the game it can get a bit more cagey and a bit nervy.  Our players were really digging in.

“Fisher have got good quality across the team. I like what Ajay is doing there. They kept knocking on the door. Yes, they could’ve nicked it at the end but I think we would’ve been a bit hard done by on us for the effort we put in to the game but I think it evened out eventually.”

There were some unsavoury scenes after the final whistle and not for the first time in this league the match officials missed a key incident.

Ashanike and Constable were having an argument in front of the dug-outs and as both teams headed for their dressing rooms, another incident occured out on the pitch and several players rushed back out towards the pitch.

Roots was seen pulling away a man in a dark blue tracksuit on the pitch (mentioned in Roots' comments below) and Palmer had to be pulled away and escorted back inside the home dressing room.

Referee Jack Owen and his two assistants were already in their dressing room by the time that it all kicked off. It was always going to, especially as there were two incidents of player melees during the game and a lot of needle in the air.

Both managers were asked their thoughts on the flashpoint.

Roots said: “It’s disappointing, emotions are high.  Clearly, there’s been some aggravation from some of the spectators from Fisher.  I don’t think he’s even linked with the management staff.  It got a bit over zealous at the end.  Luckily nothing major happened, it's all handbags.

“I think that shows you that football is back and people actually care about it at this level and two clubs, I thought, playing the right way. I don’t like to see that.  You have to conduct yourself in a professional manner but I think they’re frustrated they haven’t won the game. We’re over the moon that we’ve drawn the game with 10 men and that’s why it’s created it.

“I don’t think it was that type of a game. Even there were a lot of challenges but it’s just a bit of emotion, I think.”

Ashanike added: “I actually didn’t see much of what was going on but when I came back out one of the fans and one of the players, obviously it’s got nothing to do with Fisher, but there was a lot of handbags.”

Holmesdale’s first league draw of the season moves the newly-promoted side into sixth-place with 13 points from nine games and Canterbury City visit Oakley Road on Saturday.

“Looking forward to it.  If you’re ever going to lose to Chatham Town, you want to go and bank four points in a week if you can so for us we want to get back on track.  We’ve watched them on Monday (a 1-1 draw at K Sports). They haven’t had the greatest of starts to the season. We feel confident going into it. We’ve won four of our nine league games so far and we’re still a new club still finding our feet so we want to go on a bit of a run from here.

“There’s a run of games that we feel that we can get a run of results together. Canterbury are a very tough side, they’re well-equipped in this league but I don’t think they are maybe as strong as they’ve been in recent years.

“Coming here you have to be on your money to beat us here, not many have. We’ve only lost once here in two years.

“We’re really happy.  We feel we’re going in the right direction. We want to break the top 10 mark if we can, which is an incredibly hard task.  You can expect to find a good team that play the right way, play a good brand of football.

“There was a poll where we were tipped to come seventeenth out of 20 and I think we’ve already proved some people wrong. I think we’ve got the smallest budget and resources in the league.”

Fisher, meanwhile, also move up a place and are now in ninth with nine points from eight games and have a weekend off before travelling to third-placed Erith Town in the Kent Senior Trophy Preliminary Round next Wednesday night.

“It’s two points dropped but we have to look at the positive side, that’s a point won,” said Ashanike.

“We’d probably have lost that game last year but the boys have dug deep and we got the point so we’ll take the point and we’ll build on that and we’ll go again.

“I think it will leave us ninth which we’re still on course on what we want to do this season. We’re still on track, so hopefully, the boys carry on doing what they’re doing and we can move on further in the season when the league properly kicks in next month.

“If we can better what we did last season then we’re in a good place.  The boys have got their own objectives, they want to be in the top five but if they want to be in the top five they’ve got to be coming to clubs like this and winning so that’s what I’m saying to them.

“We’re going to be changing the squad a bit more for that (Erith Town) game.  George Porter (goalkeeper) will be coming in, we’ve just signed him from Bromley so it’s really to give some boys some game time and see how they get on and a couple of new signings are going to be in there.”

Holmesdale: Nathan Edwards, Jamie Rawsthorne, James Teodorescu, Nad Nwitua, John Foster, James Shield, Owen Punselie, Rory Ward, Nathan Palmer (Charlie Hackshall 85), Andy Constable (Cameron Gyebour 66), Ola Rabiu (William Polius 75).
Subs: Khari Oriogun, George Acland

Goal: Owen Punselie 65

Booked: Nathan Palmer 45, William Polius 82

Sent Off: Jamie Rawsthorne 60

Fisher: Daniel Carpanini, Luke Thomas, Temiloluwa Oladejo, Julio Da Mata, Sam Fitzgerald, Joseph Adewunmi, Courtney Swaby, Jacob Katonia (Greg McCrudden 85), Lee Weemes (Frederick Agyemang 72), Dennis Asante (Christian Udo 77), Malaki Coker.
Subs: Patrick Hoy, Tommy Taylor

Goal: Temiloluwa Oladejo 50

Booked: Lee Weemes 44

Attendance: 115
Referee: Mr Jack Owen
Assistants: Mr Daniel Geary & Mr Paul Greenfield