Fisher lost by the odd goal again in a game in which they were controversially reduced to nine men midway through the second half.
The Fish were 1-0 down to a scrappy goal before referee Mr Amir’s decisions changed the balance of the game, and although Fisher battled hard until the end there was little hope of an equaliser with a two-man disadvantage.
Fisher handed debuts to defender Charlie McCarthy and left-sided Aaron Jeffrey. Jeffrey, who also appeared for Fisher last season before joining Phoenix Sports, was pushed forward to lead the line with support from Ken Jarrett-Elliott and Marvin Alebiosu.
Both sides were faced with an extremely heavy pitch at Herne Bay’s Winch’s Field ground, which has taken a battering from the weather over recent weeks. It was Canterbury City who got off to the brightest start and they created some early chances which they were unable to convert. Jason Mabbs made a crucial interception as City looked to turn a fast break into a goal.
Fisher’s front line meanwhile were being consistently frustrated by the offside flag, although Alebiosu had two half-chances that did not trouble home keeper Kieron Mann. City continued to create the better chances, Justin Ascheri shooting wide when put through and Ashley Sains sending a free header over the bar from a corner.
Fisher’s best chance of the first half was created by Alebiosu, who attacked down the right and pulled back a cross for Jarrett-Elliott – unfortunately the ball was just behind the tall wide-man, and he was unable to control it. Fisher then had a shout for a penalty turned down as Jarrett-Elliott was manoeuvred off the ball in the box – while a decision in favour of the Fish may have been considered soft, the referee’s decision to instead penalise the felled number 9 was baffling.
In the second half, it was Fisher who got off to the better start. Jamie Taylor shot over, then Jarrett-Elliott saw a great chance saved well by Mann. But the Fish, who had been let off earlier when City failed to capitalise as the ball bounced around in the box, paid for some hesitant defending. The ball was crossed in from the left, but as Fish tried to clear their lines they were unable to get any distance on the ball. In the ensuing scramble, it was Glen Johnson who lashed the ball home and put City ahead.
Fisher tried to respond and resumed their decent approach play. But the game was changed on the hour mark. Full-back Danny Akers challenged for the ball on the right, on the halfway line. His tackle was certainly misjudged, but having kept his feet on the ground he could be entitled to expect a booking. The referee saw it differently, and having reached immediately for his pocket he had the red card out without a second thought, leaving players on both sides bemused.
No sooner had Akers turned on the showers in the dressing room than he was joined by Jamie Taylor. Taylor, booked in the first half, challenged a City player for a bouncing ball in almost exactly the same spot as Akers had made his challenge. Both players had their feet high, but Taylor was penalised and Mr Amir saw it as a second bookable offence, sending Taylor off.
With nine men and twenty minutes to play, Fisher had to batten down the hatches. They did so successfully, with neither side creating a notable chance for the rest of the game. Substitute Nathaniel Bell even had a sight of goal late on as he weaved through a crowd of players, but his shot on goal was blocked.
There was no disguising Fisher’s lack of goal threat in this game, but undoubtedly the two harsh red card decisions made a difficult task impossible.
Fisher: Hyde, Akers, Lewis, McCarthy, Frempah, Taylor, Jeffrey, Mabbs (Hubbard 85), Jarrett-Elliott (Demetrius 60), Friskey, Alebiosu (Bell 73)
Subs: Jackson, Hensman
Sent off: Akers, Taylor