Saturday 15th November 2008
SSEC League Junior Cup 2nd Round

Crescent Rovers “A” FC v Fulham Deaf FC
On the day of a cup match, the Fulham players met up at Earl Beatty in the morning, thanks to an early kick off at 1pm. We all travelled together to the away pitch in Wallington, but heavy congestion meant that we arrived at the changing room just 45 minutes prior to kick off. Once again, the pre-game preparation was poor; the team only had time for a short warm up and  a quick brief team talk, which was made by FDFC Manager, Ayad Sarraf. It was imperative for us to get back to winning ways after a greatly disappointing draw with Worcester Park two weeks ago. There was no match on the previous weekend due to Great Britain Deaf Football trials being held in Glasgow, Scotland, which was very successful.

As soon as we entered in the changing room, we noticed that there was a morning match being played on the same pitch we were going to play on! We hoped that the pitch would be in good condition for us to play football. In the changing room, I could see that the players were looking forward to the match and determined to put in a good performance on the pitch after the disappointment of two weeks ago. A basic team talk was given and the first eleven was announced as usual. 

Consequently, we walked to the far pitch and notice the pitch looked in a good condition but it was quite narrow and short. Anyhow, we had to get on with it and made sure of a good warm-up from head to feet. Unfortunately the referee asked us for permission to delay the kick off time by ten minutes due to some opposition players being stuck in traffic; we agreed to the request in order to give us a bit more time to warm up. 

The match commenced upon the referee blowing the whistle and the opposition kicked off. It was vital for us to keep ball possession to ourselves in the first ten minutes to get used to the different type of balls which were being provided by the other team. It was obvious that Crescent Rovers players were keen to close us down quickly and caused us a few problems early on but after that, we started to control the game as the game went on. The referee was very strict and was willing to book any player if dissent occurred. We had a few chances to score before we got our first entry on the scoreline. A well-taken goal by Ben Lampert started when Sarraf received the ball from Lampert quickly spotted our striker Shyloh Morally’s run on the left flank and delivered a nice cross over top of the back four on the left flank area. Morally collected the ball and outpaced the two opposition defenders up to the corner line and quickly crossed the ball across the penalty area where Lampert was present to stab it in the back of the net to give Fulham Deaf a 1 – 0 lead. A few minutes later, a carbon copy move led to the second goal, with Lampert again scoring, blasting the ball past the stranded opponent goalkeeper from inside the box. We were then ordered to keep ball possession by our 1st team coach Daniel Hogan. 

However, our right hand side was exposed as their left midfielder collected the ball and crossed the ball over to the inside penalty area where a ball-watching Sarraf looked on as their skilful number 8 acrobatically swung round and hit a perfect volley inside the right hand post! It was a super goal for sure! It was a kind of big set back for our defence and we now knew that they would never give up all the way to the last whistle of the match! At the same time, we could have scored more than 3 goals in the first half but once again we lacked a clinical approach to our finishing, towards the half-time whistle.

At the interval talk, it was 2 � 1 to Fulham Deaf. Hogan admitted he was so disappointed for conceding a goal where we could have blocked their cross and for failing to listen to his instructions to keep ball possession in the last 15 minutes of the first half. We made things difficult for ourselves. We also were not alert enough to loose balls and, were reacting too slowly when the ball came to us. Hogan expected Fulham deaf to control the game better than in the first half and to raise our game to a higher level.

The referee ordered both teams back on the pitch and get ready for the second half play in which we kicked off, Rovers players were attempted to get the ball off us but we managed to keep the ball around the pitch and we won the corner, Lampert was the provider as he swung an outswinging ball  from the left-hand side corner that caused a lot of problems for the Rovers defence in which they failed to clear the ball. It eventually fell to Daniel Waller in the box, who shot a low shot past the packed defence into the corner of the net to give us our two goals cushion back. 

Amazingly, we quickly conceded a goal a minute later! It was a great disappointment to see our linesman flag for offside being ignored by the referee to let the Rovers number 11 race clean through and loop a shot over the stranded Michael Roberts. However, a few minutes later we were awarded a penalty as speedy Pafe collected a good cross from Sarraf on the left flank and was brought down in the box whilst dribbling past the defence. Lampert took the ball and converted it nicely to get himself a hat-trick; we were leading 4-2 with about half an hour to go. 

We continued pressing hard and attacked with variety and plenty of good football being played; the reward for this 15 minute spell of dominance was two more goals for Lampert, which took him to five for the match! The fifth goal was a simple goal where Bryan Moore slotted the ball through and Lampert raced though and rounded the goalkeeper and placed it into the empty net.

The sixth goal was the best of all as the team kept possession from one side of the pitch to another, stretching the opposition defence and moving the ball around quickly. Eventually, the ball was played up from defence to Lampert, who laid it off to Waller and collected the return pass to crack a good finish past the exposed Crescent Rovers ‘keeper, which capped off a very fine team goal.

After this, Fulham took their foot off the gas and our goalkeeper Roberts became a very busy man in the second half as the opposition had a good number of chances to score goals but Roberts was equal to the task, making a string of good saves to annoy them.

We conceded a penalty when Andrew Vorster tripped the player over just outside the box but referee saw fit to award a penalty for it, which was saved at full stretch by Roberts, who saw the follow up shot fly over the bar. A superb penalty save by Roberts, he deserved to receive a lot of good pats by his team-mates. But once again our collective team defence simply let us down for not working hard in the defensive third. This seemed to be down to the team switching off too easily and becoming lazy in the last ten minutes to gift the opposition two goals, both of which were not Roberts’ fault.

However, as soon as they scored their 4th goal, Rovers’ number 8, who had an excellent game up until that point, engaged in a heated dispute with the referee, insisting that the scoreline was 5-6, but the referee refused, correctly stating that it was 4-6. As a result, he was booked for dissent and further backchat immediately after his booking saw him collect a second yellow followed by a red card. Despite the setback, Rovers never gave up as they kept bombarding us with counter-attack, especially after learning that referee had announced 5 minutes injury time! But we managed to hold on till the final whistle.

Both teams sportingly shook hands to conclude the match. Coach Hogan once again ordered us to get together and expressed how disappointed he was with our poor team defence and we need to improve on a lot of areas defensively. Sarraf agreed with him and insisted it was down to training sessions, which everyone needed to attend and work harder in to ensure it doesn’t happen again in future games. Sarraf also expressed his disappointment of conceding 4 goals in a game in which it was the highest goals conceded that the team has ever leaked this season so far and demanded to improve our defence but it was a big relief to get back to winning ways.

As for the Man of the Match award, Lampert, despite his five goals, was outshone by Roberts’ great stops in that frantic last half hour and fully deserved his Man of the Match award. Well done to Michael Roberts.

Fulham Deaf 1st Team are due to play against Hatch FC in the Surrey Junior Cup 3rd Round on Saturday 22nd November at Motspur Park @ 1pm kick off in which we are looking forward to welcome them to our home pitch.

Final score Crescent Rovers “A” 4 – 6 Fulham Deaf FC (HT 1 – 2)

FDFC Line-up :- Roberts, Vorster, Sarraf, Harding, Evans, Beese (Captain), Lampert, Moore, Waller, Morally and Pafe (Willis 70 mins)