Sutton Common Rovers 0-1 Fisher - Sittingbourne will be a real test but I will never write us off as we are capable of beating Step Four sides, says Fisher assistant manager Luke With

Wednesday 10th August 2022
Sutton Common Rovers 0 – 1 Fisher
Location 15 Church Road, Whyteleafe, Surrey CR3 0AR
Kickoff 10/08/2022 19:45

The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Wednesday 10 August 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Church Road

FISHER assistant manager Luke With says his side are capable of beating any Step Four side after causing an FA Cup upset at Sutton Common Rovers.

Darren Salmon’s side got their campaign underway by coming back from Rotherhithe with a goal-less draw on Saturday, while Fisher kicked off their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division campaign a week earlier by losing 1-0 at home to relegated side Whitstable Town.

Former Fisher Athletic centre-half Nick Davis will now bring his Sittingbourne side to St Paul’s Stadium in The FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday 20 August, thanks to a counter-attacking goal from Fisher striker Joshua Montella with eight minutes remaining which sealed the victory in Whyteleafe.

“I think the boys were brilliant,” said With, who was in charge of the team tonight.

“I thought they didn’t really threaten us, defensively we were sound. The game opened up a little bit in the second half and I thought we created the better chances and probably deserved to win to be honest with you.

“In the first half of the first game I think they caused a bit of a threat and then after that they hit the crossbar in the first half and they had a couple of other chances but after that I feel that we had the majority of chances and I think we deserved to go through.

“Tonight they kind of got at us and we were trying to get at them and then the second half I thought it opened up and it helped us really, the front three started getting in behind and that’s where we got a bit of joy.”

The Isthmian League South Central hosts created their first opening inside the opening five minutes.

Centre-half Bertie Lloyd played a long ball out of defence along the artificial pitch to fed right-back Rhamar Garrett-Douglas, who released winger Jake Riddington, who cut inside and hit a deflected low angled drive which was held by visiting goalkeeper Samuel Amedu, smothering the ball low to his right.

With said: “Sam’s a keeper we’ve had to add. We lost our keeper (Tommy Taylor to league rivals Rusthall) and we’ve brought Sam in and he’s been absolutely fabulous.  I’m not going to say too much about him but I think his all round play is brilliant.”

Fisher were a combative outfit and both sides lacked quality in a poor first-half with both sides hitting too many aimless long balls which failed to find a team-mate – and With believes playing a league game before these two cup ties against higher league opposition helped his team and hindered a team that were without a competitive league game under their belt.

“I think playing a Step Four team we might have got a little bit cagey.  We didn’t get our rhythm going but I think either team were sort of sussing each other out.

“This is their second game, we’ve obviously played one more than them but I think maybe they didn’t have enough momentum.

“We had a bit of a feel against Whitstable about how the league’s going to go.  Maybe we had a bit more intensity in us due to that.”

Sutton Common Rovers’ other centre-half Hugo Odogwu-Atkinson won a dual with Montella inside his half before slipping the ball to left-winger Arnaud Akmel (who was a threat during the first half before being snuffed out by a resilient Fisher right-back Luke Thomas after the interval).

Akmel fed attacking midfielder Shaun Lyle, who twisted and turned and cut the ball on to his left-boot before drilling his shot past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

With said: “Don’t get me wrong, they’re a good team. I just don’t think they got any rhythm against us.  I think our back four for all three games that we’ve played have been solid.  We’ve only conceded one penalty, so I feel very comfortable defensively in our team.  I feel that they’ve had an odd chance but I don’t feel like they’ve threatened us too much to be honest with you.”

Fisher’s two wingers, Fidan Fejzi (left) and Darnelle Bailey-King showed glimpses of promise but they lacked quality when it mattered during a hard-fought first-half stalemate.

Just past the half-hour mark, Sutton Common Rovers, who won the corner-count by 7-4, drilled in a left-wing delivery from Riddington towards the back post where striker Tony Halsey steered his header past the right-hand post from 10-yards.

Fisher created their first opening shortly afterwards as Fejzi played the ball inside to central midfielder Michael Sarpong, who turned his man in midfield before clipping the ball down the right channel for Bailey-King, who lacked composure inside the box and drilled his rasping hooked drive sailing harmlessly over the crossbar.

“It was a great little bit of play but that last little but of quality (wasn’t there),” admitted With.

“I feel like we’re getting, moving towards that. I don’t think we’re fully in flow yet but I think when we do get in flow, I think we’ll get a lot more goals in us.”

The one level gap between the two sides was not evident at Church Road tonight and Sutton Common Rovers put their bodies on the line as another Fisher drive sailed over.

Sarpong slipped the ball through for Montella, who laid the ball off for holding midfielder Darnel Bromfield, who took a touch and drilled a shot towards goal from 20-yards, with numerous bodies in front of him, but a deflection ensured the ball cleared the crossbar.

Sutton Common Rovers squandered a glorious chance to snatch the lead, 70 seconds into stoppage time following their fourth corner of the game.

Riddington swung the ball in from the right with his right-foot towards the near post where Lyle found a pocket of space and somehow headed the ball down and watched the ball bounce up and drop over the crossbar just three yards from goal.

The miss sparked the first of three melees and referee Fabien Le Houezec called over both captains before blowing the half-time whistle to end a poor half.

With added: “Very disappointing with the marking in the box, that was a great chance.  He probably really should’ve hit the back of the net but fortunately for us, it went over.”

When asked his thoughts going into the interval, With demanded more work-rate from the team in black and white stripes.

He said: “Just make sure we’re working a little bit harder and a little bit more quality in that final third and try to get the ball into the danger areas and more direct to individuals that we want on the ball to kind of affect the result.”

Fisher dominated large chunks of the second half against a home side that appeared not to be up for a FA Cup replay on a Wednesday night in front of 113 people.

Fisher started to get into their stride and should have scored inside the opening eight minutes.

Left-back Foday Jaiteh floated a free-kick towards the penalty area from the half-way-line down the left, the ball was headed clear by Lloyd and fell to Bromfield, who hooked the ball out to winger Bailey-King.

At first Bailey-King waited before taking a touch before drilling in a cross which was controlled by Sarpong inside the box but lacked composure and lashed his volley over the crossbar.

Halsey lost possession on the halfway line on the left and Fisher broke quickly and attacking midfielder Oseman Usifoh drove towards the edge of the Sutton Common Rovers box but Fisher manager Ajay Ashanike and With must work on their players’ finishing, which was awful at times.

With added: “We had some good chances.  I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t score more than one to be honest.”

Fisher kept knocking on the door, however, and created a goalscoring chance following corner number three in the 65th minute.

Jaiteh delivered a deep corner from the right towards the back post where Sarpong’s free-header was steered straight into the grateful hands of goalkeeper Endurance Johnson at his near post.

Bailey-King’s pace caused Sutton Common Rovers’ left-back Matthew Tanton all sorts of problems as it was only a matter of when, not if, that dominant Fisher would score as they finished the game strongly and on top.

A big moment came at the halfway mark when Johnson made a smart low save to frustrate Fisher.

It came from Riddington’s corner up the other end, which was headed away by Adewunmi and Fisher swiftly broke upfield.

Fejzi hooked pass produced a two-v-two counter-attack and Montella cut the ball onto his left-foot inside the box and Johnson got down low to his right to hold.

With said: “That was a very good attack.  We countered really, really well. Josh got on his favoured left-foot.  I’m a bit disappointed that he didn’t hit it further in the corner. I think if he does, I think it goes in.  It’s a little bit disappointing not getting a goal there.”

Sutton Common Rovers offered very little at the other end, with Sam Fitzgerald putting a dominant performance at the heart of the Fisher back four.

“Sam’s a good player. We’ve really worked with him for the last three years and he's really improved his game and he’s been fantastic from the start of the season,” praised With.

“Joseph Adewunmi compliments him really well at the back and we understand what we get from Sam and we understand some things we’re not going to get and some things we’re definitely going to get from him and he was great for us today, outstanding, especially that last chance when he got a toe poke on it and went out for a corner.”

Fisher’s dominance was rewarded however, scoring the winner with 36:36 on the clock, naturally on the counter-attack.

There was a game of head tennis inside the Fisher half of the pitch before the impressive Sarpong turned his counterpart Kyron Richards in midfield before smashing a ball down the right channel.

Bailey-King chased after it and Sutton Common Rovers had two headed attempts to clear the danger but Tanton and Lloyd both failed to get the ball away.

Substitute Emmanuel Shoderu pounced and unleashed a low left-footed drive towards the bottom right-hand corner from 25-yards, which Johnson pulled off a smart low save low to his left to parry.

Bailey-King pounced and cut the ball back from the right by-line and Montella took a touch with his right foot and cut the ball back onto his left foot before drilling his shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 12-yards.

With said: “A great goal! He’s scored a lot of goals for Peckham Town in the Kent County League Premier Division and we’ve brought him in and we think he’s going to be an addition to the team and he’s got the match-winner so we’re ecstatic with that.”

Substitute left-winger Malachi Coker released fellow substitute Dennis Asante down the left, who found Bailey-King on the right but a poor touch ensure his drilled shot deflected into the base of the side netting from a tight angle.

Fisher slowed the game down as the final whistle approached and there was to be a third melee, this time involving players and management staff of both benches after a scrap for the ball as Tanton wanted to take a throw in in front of the Fisher dug-out.

Once order was restored, referee Fabien Le Houezec consulted assistant referee Jide Ogunba and out came yellow cards for Richards and With.

With said: “We didn’t change our system much but I just asked them a little bit more defensively from the boys, just to dig in deep a little bit.  They were dangerous at set-pieces and we were giving too many fouls away so it was a little bit of a fight at the end.”

When asked about the flashpoint towards the end of the game, With replied: “That’s not something that we want really to promote at Fisher.  We were trying to slow the game down obviously and they got a little bit heated and frustrated which is understandable a little bit but disappointed with the reaction.”

Sutton Common Rovers couldn’t get past a well-marshalled Fisher defence and Coker ran towards the corner flag to eat up a bit of time before cutting the ball back for Shoderu, who stung the fingers of the busier of the two goalkeepers at the death.

Fisher are back in league action with a trip to Hollands & Blair on Saturday (at Lordswood FC), before hosting Erith Town on Tuesday 16 August, before locking horns with Isthmian League South East Division side Sittingbourne, who are at the same level as Sutton Common Rovers, one above Fisher, in the next round.

“We’ve had some really good results in the FA Cup in the last couple of seasons.  We beaten Tooting & Mitcham two years ago as well and we went to Cray Wanderers as well and gave them a good game where we were unfortunate to come away as losers,” recalled With.

“I definitely feel that we’re capable of beating Step Four sides. Sittingbourne will be a real test but I will never write us off because we’re a team that works really hard and I think we are capable of beating loads of teams.”

When asked if he had been in contact with Ashanike, who is on holiday in Turkey, With replied: “He’s just taken a video into the group chat and he’s buzzing, absolutely loving it and sent me a phone message as well.

“Everything I’ve done today has just echoed what Ajay done.  We know each other extremely well and we work extremely hard.  I’ll be speaking to him tonight and I’ll hear him giggling on the phone and he’ll enjoy his day on the beach.

“He picked the team with me, like we normally do and he kind of left me to it.  I always help him a little bit in the team talk in the changing room so taking a little bit more responsibility was good for me but I enjoyed every minute of it.”

With expects a tough examination from Scott Porter’s Hollands & Blair side.

“It’s going to be a tough game.  They are always a good team.  On a pitch like that it’s something we need to really step up on our results going away to places like that but I will never knock back the boys.  I know what they’re capable off and I know they can win games but it’s definitely going to be a physical game.”

And when asked what Fisher are targeting this season in the league, the towering With replied: “It’s going to be interesting. Everyone knows what we’re about. We work hard but we’re really aiming top 10 and we’ll see where it goes from there but listen you never know.  We’re just going to take one game at a time and if it means we’re near the top at the beginning of the season, so be it and we’ll just continue to strive.”

Fisher have banked £1,125 in prize money tonight, while Sutton Common Rovers’ have scooped £375.

“It’s difficult because we haven’t got a budget and a lot of other clubs have.  I’m not too sure (what the club will do with the prize money).  The club is in very good hands.  The fans look after the club and I really respect them and we listen to everything that they say.

“Ajay and I love this club to bits and we give our all for the fans. We don’t ask too many questions about money. We know this is how it is and we just get on with it.

“The fans travel home and away and the boys enjoy it and it’s a great win for the boys and I’m delighted.”

Sutton Common Rovers: Endurance Johnson, Rhamar Garrett-Douglas, Matthew Tanton, Ryan Dacres-Smith (Matt Surmon 84), Bertie Lloyd, Hugo Odogwu-Atkinson, Arnaud Akmel, Kyron Richards, Tony Halsey (Adeniyi Gbolahan 72), Shaun Lyle, Jake Reddington (Bobby Moore 86).
Subs: Ryan Stedman-Hoyte, Oliver Creed, Lee Flavin, Nathan Boamah

Booked: Kyron Richards 90

Fisher: Samuel Amedu, Luke Thomas, Foday Jaiteh, Darnel Bromfield, Sam Fitzgerald, Joseph Adewunmi, Fidan Fejzi (Emmanuel Shoderu 74), Michael Sarpong, Joshua Montella (Dennis Asante 84), Oseman Usifoh (Malachi Hudson 80), Darnelle Bailey-King.
Subs: Luke With, Prince Imoru, Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba, Michael Williams

Goal: Joshua Montella 82

Booked: Luke Thomas 19, Luke With 90 (assistant manager), Malachi Coker 90

Attendance: 113
Referee: Mr Fabien Le Houezec
Assistants: Mr Jide Ogunba & Mr Tom Marshall