Fulham Deaf comes out tops in British Deaf Cup derby
After much excitement and expectations, the London Deaf derby match kicked off for a place in the British Deaf Sports Council Cup semi finals. St John's had reached the finals for three years running and were attempting for a fourth this season. St John's as 2001 winners, 2002 winners, 2003 runners up, were going to be a big test for Fulham Deaf.
St John's kicked off this much-glamorised cup tie to the delight of the impatient crowd of 160+ who were settled in their seats under the bright floodlights recently purchased from the old Wembley stadium, which is currently being re-built.
With four minutes gone, Fulham Deaf won an early free kick outside St John's box. Rowan Dixon over enthusiastically slams the ball well over the crossbar.
St John's looked dangerous playing a very fast paced ball passing game, which threatened to enter inside the Fulham Deaf's box with little success. St John's final touches let them down at times and Fulham Deaf's defence worked hard to snuff out the attacks.
Oliver Monksfield and Huseyin Er looked the most dangerous for St John's, getting into space and driving forward at every opportunity. Twelve minutes gone, Monksfield broke through catching Fulham Deaf's defence cold, blasting high and wide from twenty-five yards out.
The referee verbally cautions Bim Ajadi after a desperate foul caused due to his poor first touch. That was the first and last bad moment for Ajadi who then produced his best performance of the season to cull St John's midfield with his movements and reading of the game.
Twentieth minute, Richard Parker is injured after colliding with H. Er outside the box in clearing the ball. After a lengthy four minutes treatment, Parker is fit to carry on and the resulting St John's free kick is slammed into the Fulham Deaf's wall to safety.
Richard Jeffers is shown the yellow card for an over eager challenge in trying to win the ball back. Parker make a great save coming out early to claim a 50-50 ball from the resulting long ball free kick.
With eleven minutes before half time, Rowan Dixon is put through by Jeffers and coolly slots the ball home past the oncoming St John's goalkeeper David Baker. It put Fulham Deaf 0 – 1 up against the run of play after St John's had most of the possession up to now.
The match gets extremely heated with some crushing tackles made by both sides and St John's still having the upper hand yet frustrated by a resilient Fulham back four of Clive Campbell, Andrew Vorster, John Docker and Andrew Drury.
Half time could not have come sooner for Fulham Deaf.
Drury heads an early Ben Lampert's corner wide of the post. It is a huge left off for St John's guilty of ball watching. Amazingly, this was only Fulham's second real chance on St John's goal out of the five created in the whole match.
Campbell panics after misjudging the height of the long ball from St John's midfield with an intentional handball just inside Fulham Deaf's half. This results in the referee's yellow card being hoisted high into the ex-Wembley floodlights directed to Campbell.
B. Lampert's deep cross is misjudged by St John's Baker when it is fluffed and Nick Beese followed up the loose ball to drive it home to make it 0 – 2 to Fulham Deaf.
Before the crowd could catch their breath, St John's equalised within a minute with H. Er slotting the ball past Parker who left it thinking it was going wide.
Five minutes later, on the hour, St John's string of excellent one touch passing which moved the ball steadily into Fulham Deaf's box reaches H. Er who equalises the match at 2 – 2.
Ryan Pendley wins the ball inside Fulham's half, passes it to B. Lampert who moves forward up the right to chip over St John's Baker. The ball comes off the crossbar and Jeffers nods the rebound to put Fulham Deaf back ahead after only two minutes of St John's equaliser.
Beese wins a throw in. Vorster throws the ball to Beese down the left. Beese chips to Jeffers up field. Jeffers controls the ball well to go round his marker to pass an excellent through ball to Dixon down the left. Dixon goes past two defenders across goal near the box and shaves the ball just wide of the post. A huge let off for St John's there.
Ajadi limps off with Neil Fox coming on. Fox continued where Ajadi left off, closing down any loose ball in midfield.
With fifteen minutes to go, St John's created chances after chances down the centre towards Fulham Deaf's goal. It was mainly due to bravery and some excellent defending from Fulham Deaf and a combination of poor finishing and bad luck that St John's did not equalise in this spell.
Two St John's free kicks just outside Fulham Deaf's penalty area failed to find the target after the first one was tipped over by Parker for a corner and the second was bouncing away from being slammed against the five-man Fulham Deaf's wall.
Kevin Harewood came on for Ryan Pendley who bled from a facial injury and a minute later Peter Drinnan came on for Rowan Dixon.
The seconds ticked away to the referee's full-time whistle to record a great victory for Fulham Deaf. After handshakes all round between both sides, Fulham Deaf applauded the 160+ crowd that was widely returned.
Christof Niklaus – Fulham Deaf FC Manager's comments:
Not wishing to take anything away from St John's, we were plagued with injuries and we had to dig deep more than ever before. Several of our players had to play out of position and did a great job achieving the result within ninety minutes. Avoiding extra time was high up on the agenda because it was our second game out of three within eight days.
It was an exciting match and we were somewhat lucky to enter half-time 1 – 0 up after catching them on the break. The second half was a big improvement for us albeit we lost concentration after our second goal by letting them score twice in the next five minutes.
When the challenge was set upon us again at two all, we answered our critics and scored again. In the last twenty minutes, our defending was excellent, somewhat desperate at times, but nevertheless effective.
Having grown up in the East End, it was a personally special night to return here winning against a well-regarded club. Perhaps a draw would have been a fairer result overall and extra time could have decided this extraordinary cup match for once and all. I could almost sense the crowd willing for extra time to extend this thrilling match.
A personal message to St John's, we salute your never-say-die team spirit. Thank you for your hospitality, sportsmanship, and after the game good wishes.
Final score: St Johns DFC 2 – 3 Fulham Deaf FC (half time 0 – 1)
Man of the match – Richard Parker
St John's DFC Man of the match – Andrew Drury
Fulham DFC Man of the match – Huseyin Er
Fulham Deaf FC Line up:
Parker, Docker, Vorster, Campbell, Drury, Pendley (Harewood 88), Lambert, Beese, Ajadi (Fox 63), Jeffers, Dixon (Drinnan 90)
St John Deaf FC Line Up: Baker, Smith, Coombe (Henry 85), Baskcock (Alistair 45), Beedie, Jacob-Lot, Costi, Ha. Er, Monskfield, Byfield, Hu. Er
Fulham Deaf FC Manager