AC Malden 2-3 Fulham Deaf FC (on 11/04/2015 – Report by Jason Mycroft) 

L.Farrell x3

A Lee Farrell hat trick was enough to sweep away the challenge of AC Malden and guarantee that Fulham DFC will finish above them at the season end. Fulham recovered quickly from an early goal from a free kick that bounced off the post and deflected off keeper Tom Boyle’s back.

The mixture of short quick passes and direct play was too much for AC Malden to handle and the first half alone saw many chances come and go, none more evident when following a defensive clearance Sam Arnold found himself with the ball outside the opposition penalty area and lashed a long range shot that saw the ball bounce off the left post.

There was little time to rue hitting the woodwork as seconds later Andrew Kenward, Nick Gregory and Jacob Willis linked up to allow Lee Farrell the time and space to score his first of his hat trick with a calm and collected finish into the bottom right corner.

The physicality was turned up and Kenward felt it when his head collided with an opposition elbow in an aerial challenge which resulted in a fracas where players were pushed but the referee opted to keep his cards in his pocket. This did not deter Fulham from pressing their technical and speed advantage and speed was definitely the focus when Willis outpaced the backline and the goalkeeper to perform a lob. The defender, not realising the severity of the situation was almost punished for casually jogging to attempt a clearance when Willis’ lob only managed to hit the post.

Farrell punished them soon after when finding himself on the rebound of a Willis shot to strike the ball into an empty net to claim his second and to put Fulham in the lead for the first time in the match.

Kenward’s injury meant the second half saw a tactical reshuffle with Gregory going into left back and Alex Bovino lining up with Ben Lampert in the centre of midfield. AC Malden found themselves making the score line 2-2 when Lampert slipped and was dispossessed allowing a breakaway through the middle of the pitch which could have been stopped however a heavy touch from Gregory meant the ball ended up in the back of Fulham’s net when their striker intercepted and placed the shot to hit the right post and in.

Lesser teams would have crumbled however Fulham pressed for the winning goal and it became a feeling of when the next goal would come rather than if. Opportunities by Mycroft, Lampert and Willis did not find the back of the net so it was up to Farrell to show them how it was done. When Boyle’s clearance took out an AC Malden player by hitting him in a rather sensitive area just below the stomach, what followed was a display of superb link up play with Lampert, Farrell finding himself one on one and stroking the ball home to complete his hat trick.

Not content with getting a hat trick, Farrell tried an ambitious 30 yard shot when the goalkeeper was off his line and his reward was the grins of the Fulham team as it narrowly went pass the goal. The realisation that AC Malden would not provide a viable threat to Fulham’s lead meant players such as Gregory, Tom Collard and Willis would try their luck at goal but unfortunately none were successful.

What then followed was a solid defensive performance to hold onto their lead with Arnold, Burns and Kamps making well timed interceptions and clearances to see out the game and give Fulham the second 3-2 victory over AC Malden this season.