Saturday 25th October 2008

Surrey Junior Cup 2nd Round match

Fulham Deaf FC v Pirbright Sports FC


FDFC knew that the Surrey Junior Cup 2nd Round match against Pirbright Sports FC was going to be a tough game as they compete in the Guildford & Woking Alliance Football Premier League, which is of a good standard. We were looking forwards to playing against them for the first time.

Once again all players/officials had to change in FFC’s gym as all the changing rooms were fully used until late afternoon due to two FFC Academy matches against Birmingham City FC being held at Motspur Park. 

Prior to the kick off, both Fulham Deaf FC Manager Ayad Sarraf and Assistant Manager Greg Beedie had a quick discussion about team selection; the principal concern of which was the number of players unavailable due to injuries, which could not be helped. The team line up was announced in the gym as usual and everyone seemed to be fired up and ready for a good game.

Once again the weather had been kind to us after a wet morning; we eventually found the correct pitch to play on after some initial confusion with FDFC’s security staff. The match then kicked off at 2pm after a short warm up on a different pitch. 

In the first 15 minutes, the standard of football being played by the opposition was a strong indicator that they were a good footballing side. They played the ball around the pitch well, and their left winger often received possession in good positions. However, FDFC’s defensive discipline was such that the right back and the centre half were able to prevent him from making inroads into the Fulham box on a few occasions, their best result being a couple of speculative shots which ended up well over the bar and wide. 

Pirbright’s number 9 was their playmaker and key player for the team and he went on to have a very strong first half. As a result, FDFC’s midfield had to keep an eye on him and make sure that he was marked at all times. 

The opposition’s strong start was kind of a wake up call to us and we realised that we had to keep possession of the ball better and let them do the running instead of the other way around.  Between the 16th minute and half time, FDFC played some decent football with a lot of movement, switching of play and some stylish interplay. However, a combination of disciplined opposition defending and poor finishing let us down.  

Both teams were puzzled and scratching their heads with the disappointing performance of the referee who kept blowing the whistle for no apparent reason or for very minor fouls. On one occasion, one of our midfielders had the ball inside our half and switched play to the left hand side of the pitch, where the left winger burst thorough and in behind the back four. To our surprise, the opposition linesman gave it as an offside and the referee immediately agreed in his favour, which annoyed the team greatly. Greg Beedie, FDFC Assistant Manager, reminded everyone that this happened sometimes and told us all to focus and move on. We had a few chances to score in the first half but missed them all. The resulting nil-nil score line at half-time was probably a fair one. 

During the halftime talk, Greg Beedie, the FDFC Assistant Manager, expressed his concerns that we were keeping possession for too long and not attacking as directly enough as possible. As a result, he encouraged us to attack more in the second half as the result is all-important in cup games, and as a result, it was imperative to score a goal and then defend well to win the match. After the team talk and some individual instructions, the second half began as we attempted to win this close cup tie. 

As soon as we kicked off, our midfielder whacked the ball all the way past the panicking Pirbright Sports goalkeeper; the resulting shot ended up going just over the bar from the kick-off spot. It would have been quite a special goal had that gone in, which the opposition captain recognised by applauding the shot! Once again the opposition quickly attacked us, but our goalkeeper was equal to all of their crosses and attempts on goal. 

We had a great chance to open the scoring after a quick breakaway from a corner kick happened. Our left winger ran down the flank with the ball, and in behind the defence. He then played a great low ball across the penalty area to where our striker was in position to score. However, as he struck the ball, the shot was badly mistimed and ended up going over the bar and wide of the goal.   

Another chance came when our right midfielder had a good shoot from just outside the right-hand corner of the box that the opposition opponent’s goalkeeper could only palm over the bar. Our reliable right back played a lot of 1-2 passing on the right hand side and linked up well with our strikers. He soon had an opportunity and should have finished better than he did, shooting straight at the goalkeeper when an angled shot would have been better.  

An enforced tactical change due to one midfielder picking up a knock ended up having a positive effect on the team as his introduction allowed FDFC to control the midfield and win a much higher percentage of the balls in the air. As a result, FDFC began to put more attacking pressure on Pirbright, culminating in a corner. The ball, which was fired well towards the far post, was met by the substitute midfielder, who had escaped his marker. However, he mistimed his header and the ball ended up wide, to the horror of the rest of the team. 

We continued attacking and attacking but failed to score a goal, which made the management decide to introduce a speedy striker. The decision paid dividends as a long ball from our left back went over the opposition’s back four and our substitute striker narrowly managed to get to the ball before the opposition goalkeeper and somewhat fortuitously flicking the ball it past him and blasting it into the top of the net for the first goal of the game in the 89th minute

After a few minutes of injury time defending Pirbright’s desperate attacks, the whistle eventually went for full time and FDFC’s players and management breathed a sigh of relief as the team advanced into the 3rd Round of the Surrey Junior Cup which will be played on Saturday 22nd November.

It was difficult to award a single Man Of The Match to one of our boys as both the right and left back had a solid game and were deserving of the Man Of The Match award; but unfortunately it has to be one of them so it goes to our left back for his gritty/superb defensive/ball winning performance.

Both Sarraf and Beedie thought the team performance was much better than in the previous match against Lambeth Academy, as Pirbright Sports were well organised defensively and would have made things difficult for FDFC to get back in the game if they had scored themselves.  However, our superb defence was essential to the team and led us to believe we could score a goal and win the match- which did happen in the last few minutes. Sarraf thought the match was a very good standard and an entertaining game. 

In addition, Sarraf hope to have all FDFC squad players available for two matches on this coming weekend as we are due to play away to Worcester Park ‘A’ in the SSEC League match on Saturday and against St Johns Arsenal Deaf in the 1st Round of England Deaf Football Cup on Sunday at Motspur Park.

Final score Fulham Deaf FC 1 – 0 Pirbright Sports FC (HT 0 – 0)