An away trip to Westside was attended by all the Fulham Deaf FC players regardless of whether they were picked for the team or not showed a great community spirit in the new club. Oh yes, of course they didn't want to miss their chance of being in the official squad photograph, which was scheduled before the match!

Our opponents were Westside who had in the week before notched an impressive 0-2 win against West End in their first match after gaining promotion from Division III.

With only 240 seconds gone, Fulham Deaf FC went 1-0 up with a sublime through-ball by Pendley to the right to Vorster who crossed over to Harewood who back-headed to Jeffers to score at close range. It was the perfect start to calm our nerves that is if we had any to start with.

For the next half-hour, Fulham Deaf FC were mostly in control with the midfield winning the ball back after losing possession. Beese was a constant thorn to Westside getting everywhere and providing support left, right and centre. Twice, we should have scored when we were two or three forwards up against two defenders but nothing came off to show for our hard work.

Nevertheless, it was pleasing to the eyes to watch Fulham Deaf FC playing at a higher level than last week with improved passing, teamwork, and self-discipline to stay in position and provide cover for each other.

In the 38th minute, with Harewood holding the ball well and turning past his marker, he fed the ball through to Jeffers who got onto the score sheet again with another close range through the left. 2 – 0 to Fulham Deaf FC and the referee's whistle blew for half-time soon after.

The half-time team instructions were to take the game by the scruff of the neck, be more clinical, and feed the ball down to the wings as I felt it was where we could create more goals. Ajadi came on for Gill at the start of the second half.

The second half tempo started as we left off with us maintaining control and Pendley was limping with an injury and so I decided to put on Fox and ordered Ajadi to go into central defence in place of Pendley.

With no warning, disaster struck after about 15 minutes! Westside, on a break, got through the right wing and Lambert came out of goal and handled the ball outside the box, clashing into the Westside forward into a tumble. A straight red-card offence and there could be no argument about it.

With a quick decision required on me under pressure, I decided to take Jeffers off and put on our substitute goal-keeper, Parker, on. I thought about taking Harewood off but felt he could hold the ball up front and possibly earn us a couple of free-kicks or time away from our half rather than depend on Jeffers for speed.

So now we were now playing in a 4 – 4 – 1 formation and I have to be honest as the only question that came to mind was, “will the lads rise to the occasion?” We struggled to find shape again but we regained our confidence quickly and were rewarded with Beese pushing forward to left foot a 30 yards screamer past the ailing Westside goal-keeper at 72 minutes.

It was a great weight off Fulham Deaf FC's shoulders and crazy as it may seem Fulham Deaf FC continued to press on for more even with ten men. Our just reward for our determination came from McGreevy and Harewood well upfront and supporting themselves with a string of passes before McGreevy netted on 82 minutes. 4 – 0 up and more was to come.

A little over confidence crept into our game and at one point four of our lads were in the Westside's half and inevitably Westside broke through our thin defence / midfield and scored a consolation past Parker with the ball coming off the left post. It was a warning the lads took to heart and they got their discipline back and kept shape in the reminder of the match.

Beese, the man-of-the-match, pushed a long ball through to Harewood who skilfully kept it in control with his back to goal, 20 yards out. Harewood turned to his right and got past his marker and shot right at the goal-keeper and collected the blocked loose ball back again. With a never give-up spirit, Harewood, turned again and blasted the ball into the left side of the net from the right at a narrow angle. 5 – 1 with three minutes to go.

The full-time whistle blew much to the relief of both sides, as it was time to put an end to this remarkable half and match. The lads answered my question and rose to the occasion to put us top of the league with a maximum six points out of six.

Now with many of our players attending a GB Deaf training weekend next weekend, our next match will be against Maori Park Reserves, joint second in the table on Saturday 4th October at The Hawker Centre, Kingston, our home ground.

Final score Westside 1 – 5 Fulham Deaf FC (half time 0 – 2)

Fulham Deaf FC Line up:

Lambert, Coker, Sarraf, Beese, Pendley, Drury (Captain), Vorster, Gill (Ajadi 46 mins, Jeffers (Parker 62 mins), Harewood, McGreevy (Fox 75 mins). Subs not used Fayed, Shanks.

Christof Niklaus
Fulham Deaf FC Manager