Fisher battled hard and looked set to return from Lordswood with three points, until a hotly disputed penalty in the 97th minute meant that the match finished all square.
An Aaron Jeffrey lob on 50 minutes gave the Fish the lead but a fine defensive display was undone when Charlie McCarthy was adjudged to have fouled Jordan Wells in the dying seconds, and Wells stepped up to score the resulting penalty.
After last week’s drubbing at the hands of Erith & Belvedere, Billy Walton and Martin Ford gave youth its head at Lordswood with Jack Robins making a debut in midfield and Josh Witter getting his first start on the left of a front three. A warm-up injury to Alex Hyde meant Billy Hensman moved up to start in goal for Fisher.
It was a pretty scrappy opening to the game, which was played on a heavy pitch. Conditions were more suited to the oval ball game, and indeed the rugby match being played next door provided significantly more entertainment as one bunch of big, overweight men handed out something of a pasting to another.
Back to the main event, and Lordswood forced a number of corners while Fisher’s adventures were restricted to a speculative long ranger from Mark Lewis. Hensman made two excellent saves to deny Lords as they looked marginally the more dangerous side, including an excellent stop in a one-on-one. As the half-hour mark approached Richie Monan shot wide, then Mark Murison missed a good chance for the home team.
The last chance of the half fell to Fisher though, as good work from Witter on the left saw his cross find Jeffrey in space in the box. About nine yards out, Jeffrey set up for the first time volley but the ball whistled over the bar and the half ended goalless.
Jeffrey made amends shortly after the break, however. Latching on to a misplaced pass the number 9 found himself with only the keeper to beat – and beat him he did with a beautiful chipped finish to give Fisher a lead. It was a fantastic finish, and the forward nearly doubled his tally eight minutes later as he bore down on gaol, but a superb last-ditch tackle stopped him in his tracks.
Lordswood tried to push forward, their play becoming significantly more direct compared to the measured approach they had taken in the first half. But they found McCarthy and Ben Frempah in commanding form at the back, the two centre-halves getting a head to everything that came their way. The Fisher defensive unit performed exceptionally well, with Adam Wadmore featuring at right-back and working his socks off for the cause.
In midfield too, Robins and Jason Mabbs were dominant. Robins in particular put in a mature performance that belied his age and inexperience. As time wore on Lordswood were unable to create a chance and Fisher could have put the game to bed when Monan fired wide after good work on the left by Lewis. Monan enjoyed a productive game playing in an advanced midfield role, as neither the home side’s defenders nor midfielders were able to keep track of his movement.
As the game entered injury time, Fisher continued to battle away. Their cause was struck a blow when Nathaniel Bell, on as a substitute, picked up a second yellow card for a late challenge. Bell, who was apologising for his mistiming even as he slid across the muddy pitch towards the defender, found the referee in unsympathetic mood and was despatched to the dressing room. Still, Lordswood pumped the ball forward, and still Fisher resisted.
Injury time wore on. And on. The home team flung everyone forward, and as the game entered the 97th minute they worked the ball out wide on the right. Wells approached the penalty area to cross, and McCarthy flung himself towards the ball to block it. He got a touch on the cross, but slid into his man right on the very edge of the box. The assistant flagged confidently for the penalty, and after some debate the referee confirmed the spot kick. Wells got up and sent Hensman the wrong way to rob Fisher of the three points.
Frustration reigned, and Jeffrey let his upset get the better of him, picking up a second yellow card for dissent and leaving Fisher to play out the final ten seconds of the 99 minutes with nine men. It was difficult to fathom quite where all the time came from – the half had seen just two trips on to the pitch from the physio, and three substitutions (two of which happened at the same time). But despite the disappointment, Fisher had delivered a fantastic response to the previous week’s defeat and some younger players staked a claim for regular first team action in the run-in.
Fisher: Hensman, Wadmore, Lewis, Frempah, McCarthy, Robins, Alebiosu, Mabbs, Jeffrey, Monan, Witter (Bell 62)
Subs: Hanifan, Obasa, Hyde
Goal: Jeffrey 50
Sent off: Bell, Jeffrey