After three defeats in three games, Fisher really needed to get something from their visit to Erith Town on Tuesday, writes Ian Murphy.
The Fish started the game brightly (although it wasn’t as bright as the orange kit chosen for the game), launching an attack straight from the kick off. Debutant Troy Copeland received the ball in the box and saw his shot cleared off the line with just 20 seconds on the clock.
The game never really settled into a rhythm, with neither side able to hold possession for very long, but after 6 minutes Erith attacked and took the lead via a well hit strike from Rikki Cable. In the following minutes, Erith tried to make their lead more comfortable but the Fish defence held (just).
Around the halfway mark of the first half, Erith broke forward, the assistant referee raised his flag to signal an Erith player was off-side and Hopkins, anticipating the whistle, caught the ball. The referee then blew up and pointed to the penalty spot, awarding Erith a penalty for handball in the area. This caused some confusion for the Fish players, management and supporters. The referee then consulted his assistant (who signalled the initial off-side) before confirming the penalty decision. Hensman pulled off a great save to keep the score at 1-0.
Erith then continued to attack but never produced anything really dangerous and Fisher defended relatively comfortably, but like Erith, couldn’t produce anything going forward. The first dangerous looking attack Fisher produced was from a free kick which released Troy Copeland who was deemed off-side. Fisher then broke again moments later, and were again pulled back after the assistant referee deemed someone to be off-side.
It was then Erith’s turn to attack, Hensman saved a short range effort well, but unfortunately injured himself as he landed on what appeared to by a hard pitch. This caused some nerves amongst the Fisher supporters as there wasn’t a named substitute keeper. Tom Hopkins took over between the posts and Harvey Hanifan stepped into Hopkins place. This spurred Fisher on, and they now looked a little more threatening going forward as they looked to draw level. Both defences held out until half time and Erith were still just 1-0 up the break.
What had until the break been an entertaining game (although that wasn’t necessarily down to the players), continued in a similar fashion after half time, with Fisher needing three attempts to kick off the second period. The game became end to end with neither midfield able to hold onto possession and neither side able to create any real chances to score.
Fisher tried to mix things up a bit combining clever short passing with longer balls forward but Erith coped well and broke forward and Kofi Quartey doubled the hosts lead in the 54th minute.
The game then became more broken down that it already was with both sides conceding several free kicks for various fouls and a few off-sides. Fisher’s midfield play became a bit scruffy as the second half went on but the Fish made it through a tough period without conceding a third.
In the 75th minute, a hard tackle just outside the box gifted Fisher a free kick. Erith formed a four man wall, with the keeper shouting “Just don’t duck” to the members of the wall. With those instuctions ringing in their ears, the wall ducked as one just as Michael Zanelli hit a superb free kick which sailed over the wall, past the keeper and in to the net to bring the Fish back into the game.
The goal gave Fisher the belief they so sorely needed going into the last fifteen minutes. The Fish attacked on numerous occasions and really looked threatening but were unable to create anything threatening.
Fisher played the last ten minutes with 10 men after a harsh tackle on Copeland, who went down and couldn’t get up without assistance. As all three substitutions had already been used, Fish were unable to replace him. It didn’t really affect the Fish who still looked good coming forward, but there was no killer touch and Erith held on to their one goal advantage until the final whistle.
The result leaves Fisher with a bit of a headache over the injuries and still no points on the board, although there were plenty of encouraging positives to take from the game.
Fisher: Hensman (H Hanifan 42), P Hanifan, Akers, Taylor, Hopkins, Walton, Hubbard (Damarola 64), Carr, Copeland, Maguire (Zanelli 64), Hawkins
Goal: Zanelli 76