Never–say–die spirit Fulham Deaf progress into third final of the season
Fulham Deaf arrived at Westminster Casuals' ground to battle out for a place in the League Intermediate Cup Final. Westminster Casuals previously defeated Fulham Deaf out of the Teck Cup in the semi final three weeks ago and Fulham Deaf was gunning for revenge.
After a fast paced start, the game began to take shape with chances being created at both ends of the pitch. Nick Beese's shot was blocked just outside the box by an oncoming Casual's defender. Andrew Vorster came to Fulham Deaf's rescue with a good clearance as last man standing from a Casuals' breakaway attack.
Andrew Drury produced a quick throw in to Beese who had his shot at goal deflected over for a corner from twelve yards out. Richard Jeffers created a good lay off for Drury but Drury's first touch let him down in what could have been a clean through ball.
In the thirteenth minute, Rowan Dixon took a corner for Fulham Deaf found Drury, who had a free header. The ball sailed over the crossbar.
A late Jeffers' tackle concluded in a free kick to Westminster Casuals just twenty-two yards outside of Fulham Deaf's goal. The free kick was slammed into the four-men Fulham Deaf's wall and cleared by John Docker.
Ayad Sarraf took a throw in and the ball pinballed from Ben Lambert to Mark Gill to Drury to Jeffers back to B. Lampert who crossed to Dixon. Heavily marked, Dixon slotted the ball wide under pressure.
A twentieth minute Casual's throw in was quickly crossed and headed into the back of the net but the effective Fulham Deaf back four produced the offside trap to ensure the linesman raised his flag for offside. The goal was disallowed for offside.
Casual continued to pile on the attack and broke through the right and Richard Parker produced a great save to deny Causal an almost certain goal, giving away a corner. Oliver Westbury cleared the resulting corner.
A fifteen minutes period of good quality football was produced by both sides in a thrilling end-to-end action with strings of passes being created repeatedly by both sides. It was a joy for the spectators to watch this kind of encounter right until the referee blew for half time.
Half time: Westminster Casuals 0 – 0 Fulham Deaf
Under the glaring sun, Westminster Casuals kicked of the second half and immediately piled the pressure inside Fulham Deaf's half. With barely three minutes gone into the second half, Westminster Casuals broke through on the left and Sarraf lost his opponent who scored by sneaking the ball into the net at the near post from the left.
Now a goal down, Fulham Deaf pushed deep inside the Casuals' half. Vorster took a throw in and the ball went to Drury who crossed back to Jeffers. The ball was shot wide of the mark.
Ewan McGreevy replaced Dixon on the pitch with thirty-five minutes left and made an immediate impact in heading the ball just wide after good build up work between Gill, B. Lampert, Beese and Jeffers which originated from a Sarraf's throw in.
Jeffers hit the post at close range after confusion inside the box resulted the ball being deflected into Jeffers' path. Gill came off for Ryan Pendley with just over a quarter of an hour left.
Fulham Deaf won a free kick just outside the right hand side of Casual's box. B. Lampert clipped the ball to the right instead of crossing it into the box. Unmarked, Beese rashly curved the ball well wide of the post.
Fulham Deaf resorted to long balls in a desperate attempt to get an equaliser. With six minutes left, Kevin Harewood came on for Vorster and Fulham Deaf converted to a 3-4-3 system on the basis of a calculated risk by Christof Niklaus, Fulham Deaf's manager.
Seconds later, with only three men inside Fulham Deaf's half, Drury won the ball and pushed up forward alongside several teammates and unleashed a screamer from twenty-eight yards out which landed in the bottom left hand corner of the Casuals' net to equalise this exciting cup-tie with less than five minutes to go.
Harewood immediately slotted back at right back and Fulham restored their original 4-4-2 formation for the remaining few minutes. Pendley's long range was well saved by the Casuals' keeper.
Parker came to Fulham Deaf's rescue when he came out to narrow the angle in flicking the ball over for a corner. The solid Parker punched out the resulting corner to safety.
After a resolute second half performance by both sides, the full time whistle blew for extra time with both sides all square at 1 – 1.
Extra Time First Half:
As early as the third minute into extra time, Harewood produced a threatening long throw in into the box that was poorly cleared by Westminster Casuals. The rebound was deftly lobbed into the net over the Casual's keeper by McGreevy's trusty boot to put Fulham Deaf 2 – 1 up.
Four minutes later, a Sarraf's curling menacing cross deep into the Casuals' penalty area was flicked wide by B. Lambert.
Westminster Casuals produced several attacks down the right wing but their final touches let them down. On a break away ball, Jeffers, B. Lambert, Pendley and McGreevy pushed up the field and the end ball came to McGreevy who attempted a cheeky replay in lobbing the ball again over the Casuals' keeper. The ball is long and soon after both sides huddle together at opposing end of the pitch for the final team talk by opposing managers.
Extra Time Second Half:
The start of the last fifteen minutes is all Westminster. Their narrow angled lob from just inside the box close to the touchline went over the bar from an immediate attack down the right.
With only two minutes into this final quarter, Beese's poor clearance led to a Casual's volley from the edge of the box flew through the flurry of bodies past Parker into the net to equalise the match at 2 – 2.
Westminster Casuals inspired by the equaliser is flagged offside three times in as many minutes. Parker is called to Fulham Deaf's rescue again when he parried the ball over for a corner when Casual's unleashed a shot from close range.
Docker cleared the resulting corner to B. Lampert who went on the immediate attack supported by Jeffers and Pendley. On this fast break away attack, B. Lampert pushed the ball forward out wide on the right to Jeffers who crossed from literally the corner flag to Pendley who slammed the ball over the bar.
McGreevy produced a man-of-the match performance in winning the ball from every direction and getting behind the ball to support the defence.
Parker is again Fulham Deaf's saviour when he produced a fantastic save to flip the ball over the crossbar in the last minute.
Both sides could not edge ahead to win this thrilling semi final and so it went to penalties.
Fulham Deaf won the toss and elected to take the first penalty. Harewood's kick slid under the goalkeeper with his fierce power. McGreevy, Drury and B. Lampert's penalties were clinical going into the top left hand corner of the net and Sarraf's kick landed into the left hand side of the net. The entire five Casuals' penalties were slotted into the left hand side of the net (Parker's right) in convincing style.
So, it went to sudden death. Beese keen to make up for his error earlier, which led to Casual's equaliser, walked up to the spot and slammed the ball towards the right hand side of goal. The Casuals' keeper got a hand to it but the ball ended up into the back of the net.
Casual's sixth player again selected to slot the ball into the left hand side of the net but the ball skipped just outside the post.
It was a harsh route for Westminster Casuals to go out of this exhilarating cup-tie after their battling performance to equalise in extra time from 1 – 2 down. Fulham Deaf salutes them and wishes them the best of luck in the Teck Cup Final on Monday 16th April against Maori Park Reserves, who incidentally will be Fulham Deaf's League Cup Final opponents on 11th May.
Final score Westminster Casuals 2 – 2 Fulham DFC after extra time (half time 0 – 0, after 90 mins 1 – 1)
Fulham DFC wins 5 – 6 at sudden death penalties.
Man of the Match – Ewan McGreevy
Fulham Deaf FC Line up:
Parker, Vorster (Harewood 84), Westbury, Docker, Sarraf, Gill (Pendley 74), Beese, Dixon (McGreevy 55), B. Lampert, Drury, Jeffers
Fulham Deaf FC Manager