Saturday 29th November 2008

SSEC Junior Division One League

Fulham Deaf FC v Cheam Village Warriors FC


Our vital league match at home against Cheam Village Warriors was to be the biggest challenge of the season so far, as they boasted an unbeaten record. They were also the only team to beat us so far this season in a lucky 2-1 victory in the very first league game of the season, in which we would have won if it weren’t for those chances we failed to convert in the last half-hour. It was essential for us not to lose another league match to ensure that we could catch up with them, and with this in mind, we desperately needed to beat them to bag 3 valuable points and subsequently close the gap.

Before FDFC Manager Sarraf announced the team line up, he managed to get in touch with FDFC Assistant Manager Beedie via text messaging, due to his missing out on catching the train along with Jonathan Evans!

As soon as Sarraf and Beedie agreed with the team selection, Sarraf immediately announced the team line-up in the changing room. The squad may have been hit by injuries, yet everyone in the camp was so focused and fully concentrated on their positional roles for the match. The players knew it is was a massive job for us to do well against high-flying pacesetters Cheam Village Warriors but Sarraf had faith in the team to do a good professional job on the pitch.

The players were sent off to do a good warm up, but to our horrified faces, the pitch was very poor and contained a big patch of mud in the middle of the pitch. But we had to get on with it and warmed up properly ready to start the game.

Before the game started, the FDFC players were ordered to keep the a good team shape in the first 15 minutes and to be aware of their quick closing down, which would necessitate us passing the ball much quicker than usual. As the referee blew for the match, the team orders reflected the expected approach of Cheam Village for the first 15 minutes of the game; they had 3 players playing forward to apply pressure on our back four of Vorster, Evans, Moore and Harding so Sarraf and Beedie had to sent out  simple instructions to both full backs to ensure they sit tight together with both central halves to halt them having a chance to break through.

As a result, our back four was superb and made it difficult for the opposition to break them down, which meant that they rarely threatened our goalkeeper Roberts.

Most of the time, we controlled the game and managed keep ball possession to ourselves rather than give it away to them which had them frustrated during the first half. Our strikers Jacob Willis and Alex Bovino did their job to close down their back four and put them under the pressure at all times, leading to quick returning of possession as the opposition were often forced to kick the ball away.  

Our midfielders, Daniel Hogan, captain Nick Beese, Ben Lampert and Daniel Simmonds did a good job in the heart of the pitch to ensure they marked all of the Cheam Village Warriors midfielders at all times. We won four corners in the first half, with Beese having two chances to score, one header flying over and one went past the left-hand post.   

We continued to put pressure on their back four with both our wingers supplying crosses but they managed to clear them away under mounting pressure on most occasions. Fulham looked to have  made a break-through when Simmonds crossed the ball over into the goal mouth, where the opposition goalkeeper tried to catch it with one hand, under close attendance from Alex Bovino. He made a hash of it, and the ball popped up to Ben Lampert, who put the ball into the back of the net.

Amazingly, however,  the goalkeeper seemed to pretend that he was fouled by Bovino and lay down for a long minute. The convinced the referee to assume that he was fouled and controversially disallowed the goal!

The FDFC lads were stunned that the goal was overruled, which angered us a bit. We continued to play good football and attempted to create a lot of chances but the goalkeeper managed to keep us at bay until we conceded a corner. It was a great disappointment to us to concede a goal from this corner, in which the ball sailed into the middle of the six yard box and headed firmly in from close range. On reflection, the marking should have been better and perhaps Roberts could have come out to punch the ball clear or collect it instead of staying on the goal line.

It was therefore an uphill task for us to get back in the game unless we could pull a goal before half time but sadly it didn’t happen and with 4 minutes to go to the interval, Beese collected the ball from Hogan and was felled by a lunge from their no 4, who severely dislocated his shoulder in the process.  The referee immediately stopped play and after an initial check, began to request an ambulance for him. Until it arrived, we could not move the player off the pitch due to the severity of the injury, so the game was delayed for a short while. Both sets of teams put their tracksuits on and warmed up until the ambulance came and attended to the stricken No. 4. Due to the extensive delay, it was agreed by both teams to call half-time there and then and to put the excess time on top at the end of the second half.

During the half time talk, 0-1 down to Cheam, both Sarraf and Beedie encouraged the team that we can do the job in the second half and guaranteed that if we do an excellent job then we would win. They demanded that the players to continue feeding wingers to supply a lot of crosses for the second half, and that an early goal was needed to boost our confidence. In the only change, Shyloh Morally replaced hamstring victim Bovino.

Andrew Brum, the referee, restarted the 2nd half of the game. The pattern of the previous half continued; our players carried on bombarding the Cheam Village Warriors’s own half with a lot of crosses. Once again we missed a great chance to score as Lampert failed to make the most of a break through after Hogan played a beautiful ball through the back four and into his path, with his first touch letting him down. The opposition breathed a sigh of relief when the ball went out of play as a result.

Hogan continued teasing the left back with a lot of crosses but our strikers failed to convert them. Lampert played a good pass through to Morally, who outpaced the back four and the opposition goalkeeper had to come out of his line and make a good block on Morally’s low shot. Beese also had two shots that went wide and over the bar respectively.

We won a free kick from the right hand side of the attacking third. After consultation, both Lampert and Hogan agreed for Hogan to shoot. He fired an inswinger across the packed goal mouth, which confused the goalkeeper and the ball ended up in the far corner of the net to give FDFC an equaliser.

Sarraf and Beedie ordered our players to continue attacking and they did attack more than before. Hogan played a beautiful 1-2 with Morally, then burst through and missed the post by inches with a low shot past the Cheam ‘keeper.

The Cheam players were struggling for a long period and were being thwarted by Hogan, Simmonds, Willis, Morally, Beese and Lampert. FDFC played a lot of good decent football after the equaliser and could have ramped up the scoreline with more goals but failed to score. Simmonds was in the box to receive a cross from Hogan, but showed quick thinking in spotting Morally’s overlap and played it into his path. Morally provided an excellent side-footed finish into the top corner of the net to give FDFC a 2-1 lead in the 70th minute, leaving the opposition goalkeeper with no chance to save it.

FDFC Management team instructed players to concentrate and focus but to our gobsmacked faces, the lead lasted just a minute as their no 14 turned away from Vorster and advanced on the penalty area and shot straight through Roberts hands. Very disappointing to concede a goal like this when Roberts could have blocked it by either catching the ball or palming it over the bar but he let it past him.

It was frustrating for all Fulham players who had worked hard to get back in the game and to  leading the game by a goal (which should have been by more). We all know it is a must to score another one to take 3 points from the match. FDFC played a lot of attacking football in from either flank, yet Cheam hung in there and defended well. However, with a minute to go, a lot of good 1-2 passes from Beese, Lampert and Hogan led to Hogan running into the penalty area and squaring the ball to Morally at the far post, who hit a low shot past the goalkeeper, rebounding off the custodian’s leg and into the side of the net.

As Morally and the rest of the team celebrated, the ball popped out via the side netting. It was clare from the Cheam players’ expressions and body language that they had conceded a goal (and the winner at that) and with it a first defeat of the season, but to our horrified faces the linesman (believed to be the Cheam manager) called over the referee for a consultation and assured the referee that the ball went outside of the post instead of inside the net. This action on the part of the linesman caused an angry atmosphere when the referee overruled his earlier decision to give a  goal and pointed to the corner. Despite our extensive protests, the referee refused to accept it, even in the face of an admission from the Cheam goalkeeper that the ball went in.

To make matters worse, all our supporters and four neutral security team on site who were watching all confirmed it was a clear goal!!!

The FDFC Management/players felt betrayed, cheated and robbed of 2 points.

Sarraf  said “Andrew Brum, the referee officiated the game up to a good standard and allowed for a entertaining game but let himself down for listening to the linesman and making a grievous error. I am very angry and very disappointed with his awful decision. We were definitely robbed of 2 points and completely betrayed by the referee�s poor decision in the last minute, which could affect our chance of getting a promotion into the Intermediate Division. Cheam Village Warriors clearly got away with murder. They knew we deserved to take 3 points off them as we clearly outclassed them for the whole game! We hope to meet them again in a future cup ties without a doubt!”

All players were dejected in the changing room but Sarraf assured them that we were the better side in both fixtures and should have beaten them twice instead of taking a loss and a draw. He told them to raise their heads high and walk tall on their way home.

Sarraf admitted

“It was very difficult to award a single Man Of The Match to one of our boys as they all played a decent game and worked their socks off from the start to the end. However I thought Daniel Hogan had a great game after a long absence from injury and created a lot of chances and threatened Cheam all the way to the end and scored a low wonderful inswinger from a free kick.”

In addition, Sarraf is delighted for Bryan Moore who played a very solid game in defence and it’s one of the best performance that he had seen from him this season.

FDFC are due to play against Battersea Ironsides U25 and looking forward to welcoming them at Motspur Park on this coming Saturday.

Final score Fulham Deaf FC 2 – 2 Cheam Village Warriors FC (HT 0 – 1)

FDFC Line-up :- Roberts, Vorster, Evans, Moore, Harding, Simmonds, Beese (Captain), Lampert, Hogan, Willis and Bovino (46 minutes Morally)

Subs not used :- Burns, Waller, Sarraf