Sunday 18th January 2009

England Deaf Football Challenge Cup Quarter-Final

Fulham Deaf FC Reserves v Leeds Deaf FC


Going into this match, the Reserves had not played a competitive game since the 4-0 league win against Old Plymouthians at Motspur Park on 20 December, which was played a month ago. The management was worried about the lack of match sharpness from the lads due to two postponements of competitive fixtures prior to the Leeds match. On the day the manager Leo Mansell had a huge headache for the squad selection hours before the match, as 19 players (including himself) had made themselves available for this fixture against Leeds Deaf. He decided to leave the squad largely unchanged from the last match. The pitch was in good condition and the conditions were a bit blustery.

Starting XI: Giddens (GK), Ansell, Jemmott, Knighton, Joyce, Robino, Rumney, C. Kenward, Kemp, Paull, A. Kenward.

Substitutes: Loveridge, Fox, Fuccillo, Hounslow, al-Fayed.

First Half

With Leeds kicking off the game against the Reserves, Leeds started off quite well, with a couple of neat passing moves to test the Reserves, presumably to scout for weaknesses in the defence and midfield. The Reserves retained most of the possession in the first half, where most of the battles were fought in the middle of the pitch. Suddenly we broke through, and James Paull, the young lad rounded past the goalkeeper and fired the ball home. 1-0 to the Reserves. Within a few minutes, it appeared that the Reserves had let their concentration levels drop and their positioning became poorer, as a result of overconfidence that they were leading by one goal to nil. Leeds exploited the space in the Reserves’ half, and then got a couple of corners in quick succession. They were determined to get a goal back before half time and they successfully did so. Rumney was pushed over by their number 10, and the Leeds forward used the space to fire the ball in the net beyond the reach of Giddens, who was left standing. 1-1. Rumney was booked soon after for repeatedly questioning the referee’s decision to allow the goal to stand.


Leo was pleased with first half performance as the Reserves had not played football for a month yet managed to put a decent performance in the first half. He decided to make a change as he felt that Robino was struggling in the first half, and replaced him with Fuccillo. Fuccillo had not played since the end of November due to a neck injury sustained in a car crash. Leo told the players to keep attacking the Leeds defence and to make more crosses into their box.


Second Half

Fuccillo made an immediate impact as he scored a beauty; a thumping half-volley from Kemp�s cross which gave the Leeds goalkeeper virtually no chance. 2-1. The Reserves started to play football with increasing confidence and kept attacking the Leeds box, controlling the game and putting Leeds under pressure. Giddens had full command of his area and made good saves from long range shots, as well as handling high balls from corners and crosses, continuing his impressive season form.

Eager to get back on level terms, Leeds started to pour their numbers forward in search of an equaliser. This left them increasingly vulnerable at the back, and a counterattack cumulated in Paull breaking free following a flowing passing movement to slot the ball beyond the onrushing Leeds goalkeeper to secure his brace. 3-1

At this point, Leeds’ heads started to drop. Another attack resulted in the ball being teed up for Andrew Kenward to smash the ball underneath the crossbar from the edge of the area. 4-1. Evidently not satisfied with his brace, Paull gathered an incisive pass from Chris Kenward and pulled off a carbon copy of his first goal, rounding the Leeds goalkeeper to fire the ball home to complete his hat-trick. 5-1.

Fulham Reserves DFC won 5-1 at the final whistle. Leo commented that they gave a good performance in front of supporters. Leo also commented that he had to make a hard decision in order to pick the man of the match as most of the players played well. He decided to pick James Paull for his hat-trick but also mentioned that Marcus Fuccillo was close to get the man of the match award for his second half performance.

End of Match XI: Giddens (GK), Ansell (al-Fayed �70), Jemmott, Knighton, Joyce (Fox �65), Robino (Fuccillo �45), Rumney, C. Kenward, Kemp, Paull, A. Kenward.

Goals: James Paull (3), Marcus Fuccillo, Andrew Kenward

Post Match

Among the spectators was Ayad Sarraf, the manager of the First team, who remarked that the balance of the Reserves has improved dramatically from the previous two seasons; such was the extent of team spirit and camaraderie in the second half. He also contended that some of the players may be knocking on the First team’s door in the near future.

Semi-finals here we come…!

The draw with the EDF Challenge Cup will be made on the 8th of February 2009. The semi-final matches will be played at a neutral location for all the remaining four teams. The matches will be held on the 15th February 2009. Watch this space!