With the trials and tribulations in the Reserves as they go on in their
first season in Kingston District Football League Division 4, there is
a roundup of what has happened over in the period of November to March
with a brief summary of each match that the Reserves have played. It is
also accompanied with Christof Niklaus’ report, who has been coaching
the Reserves since the start of the season.
v. AFC Hampton (H) 3-5 L
With the League Junior Cup Round 1 fixture against AFC Hampton upon us, the Reserves saw this as a challenge where they could face against opposition that was from a different division, and with ambitions to further ourselves in this competition. We started off quite brightly with taking the first blood, following from pressure from the right flank onto their left-back who then dispatched a terrible back pass to the goalkeeper, who fumbled with the ball which left the goal wide open, and then Loveridge elected to pass it to Ansell, so that he could score his first goal of the season.
AFC Hampton hit back with 2 goals of their own, before one of us were brought down in the penalty box. Ivan Stone, the manager elected to take the penalty, and scored which in turn makes him the oldest scorer in Fulham DFC’s history. Hampton proceeded to add another 3 goals, before a very late goal by Knighton, who beat the offside trap and only had the goalkeeper to beat to score his first goal for Fulham. The Reserves went out despite the valiant efforts of the team on the day. There were a lot of positives to take from the game, and this will further improve us as the season goes on.
v. N.P.L. Reserves (H) 0-9 L
With the closely contested fixture happening the weekend before, we all headed into this match with ambitions to do better for ourselves in the game against N.P.L Reserves, and with this team playing against us for the very first time since we joined Kingston District Football League, we headed into uncharted territory, and with the team developing as we go, unfortunately they were too strong for us, and battered us around a bit.
This is something that the young side will absorb into their experiences of playing at a standard different than the previous season in the Sunday League.
v. Westside Res (H) 3-9 L
With a combination of bad luck, and too many of us not on our form during this match, We failed to capitalise on our early pressure on Westside Reserves, where we scored early on through Karim al-Fayed, and then Westside Reserves hit back with the equalising goal, then a few more before we could respond in kind with 2 beautifully taken goals by Reuben Clarke.
Its just bad luck that we weren’t on the ball on the day, and hopefully this will be the last match when this sort of thing happens!
v. Merton Social Res (A) 2-1 W
With the memories of the previous weekend’s game against Westside Reserves, the team was determined not to let that happen again, and set about to rectify our mistakes, and with the game against Merton Social Reserves away on a wet day. With the new appointments of the two assistant managers to support the manager Ivan Stone, the input from the management ensured that each player was playing in possibly their best position up to date. This proved to be a game of high calibre, with only one first-team player only in the starting line-up, and we were guilty of not taking our chances when the opportunities presented themselves.
Eventually the pressure on Merton Social’s back four paid off, and Daniel Simmonds scored a nice close-range goal, to ensure that we equalised after Merton Social had scored in the first few seconds due to a defence mix-up. We then kicked it up a gear, and attacked their half relentlessly, and not being able to penetrate the goal, until the very last minute, when Theo Abraham mis-hit a cross into a long lob, and into goal by the tightest of all angles and consecutively won us the 3 points!
v. St Martins (A) 0-1 L
From what was gathered during this match against St Martins away, that it was a very close game, and that with the Reserves scoring a goal, it was disallowed, and the players felt that they could’ve done better against them, and the goal that was scored against us was a feeble goal. This proves that with the team’s fantastic morale from winning the previous game, had not been dented by this narrow loss.
v. Westside Res (A) 6-3 W
Following on from the narrow defeat from the weekend before, the Reserves were focused on their mind so that the Westside game (Where we lost 9-3 a few weeks before) was a distant memory, and with 2 first-team players coming in to support the Reserves, and to galvanise the belief in each other, we started well, and then went down 2-1 at half-time, and shortly after the half-time, the game became quite fast, and exciting and we equalised, then they hit back, then we equalised once again, but with a difference, we went to lead the game, and eventually the 3 points into the bag! Everyone worked hard, and they proved it to themselves that they can win in style.
v. Summerstown Res (H) 0-5 L
Facing the best team (Summerstown Reserves) in the Division Four of Kingston District League, and with injuries to some players in the squad, and a player being involved in a road accident on the last training night of the year, the Reserves had a decent squad to face against this team, and they worked together, and despite their valiant efforts, and with some dodgy changes to Summerstown’s line-up as their first team had no game on that day, they found their way through the team and scored 5.
v. Chessington K.C. III (H) 1-5 L
With the first game after Christmas and the New Year, the squad were very hungry to get out on the pitch and play what they love. We started off positively, with great work being done by everyone in the first half, and with a long ball dispatched over to Willis, before being fouled in the box, and the captain of the match Kenward, took the penalty and dispatched it cleanly into the goal. Somewhere in the match, something broke and the other team crept in and scored a few clinical strikes which would give them advantage and the 3 points. We showed that we can start positively but we need to incorporate it fully into 90 minutes. We are quickly improving, but not quite the finished article, and I for one hope that we will always improve a lot more, and reach the immense potential that the team has.
v. Lower Green Res (H) 4-1 W
It would be another 2 weeks before our fixture against Lower Green Reserves, and with the previous outing against Lower Green Reserves with our disappointment in not punishing them when we had the chances. This match we all started positively retaining a lot of the possession of the ball and when we didnï¿½t have the possession of the ball, we pressured them heavily and forcing them into mistakes. Ivan tried with a first-time partnership between Knighton and Loveridge in central midfield, which completely dominated the game. This enabled the wingers and the full-backs to pressure their opponents whenever they had the ball, and with some fine passing by the whole team, and with Pafe Palata Mike exposing Lower Green Reserves’ lack of pace at the back, with 3 finely placed goals, before giving an assist to Wayne Jemmott to score his first goal of the season. This showed to each player that they can do a lot better if they work at it, and the result says it all.
v. Charlton Athletic DFC (A) 0-9 L
It would take a full month before the Reserves would partake in a football game, and with the lack of match practice, despite the vast improvements that was made in training over the last few months. We went into this game prepared for the England Deaf Plate quarter-final against Charlton, and with key players missing, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy game but we felt that we could give them a game, and possibly to nick the game through hard work.
The first half was a disaster for us after letting in eight goals, but with key changes being made at half-time and with a positive tatical half-time talk by the coach Christof, it was a case of damage limitation in the second half. We really gave it our all in the final 45 minutes only to give away a soft goal. We came close to scoring a few times, but somehow it didn’t happen for us.
v. N.P.L Reserves (A) 1-5 L
With this fixture already being postponed once before due to them not notifying us that the game had been called off due to bad weather, we arrived at their ground to see if we could give them a good game, and most importantly, to answer back to their 9-0 drubbing, and we wanted to beat them. We played some nice football, some excellent link up play but our finishing let us down on the day. When they scored 5, we eventually got a goal back, but by then, it was too late into the game to try and perform a comeback, but we will go away from this game with our heads held upon high and with more experience to fall back on.
v. Red Star (A) 0-1 L
Against Red Star, whom we played in our first KDFL fixture of the season, holding them to a 2-2 draw at Motspur Park. We entered this match with views to beat them and take back with us the 3 points. We had 2 first-team players in the squad due to the unavailability of quite a few players going for the England trials at the weekend. We utilised the experience of the first-team players, and we started off quite well, retaining possession, and using our width to go forward.
We went up the pitch well, but also had men behind the ball when Red Star retained possession. On a throw-in for Red Star, they got the ball and then lobbed it over the goalkeeper and scored quite a nice goal against us. We were determined not to let it lie, and started to bombard their half as we wanted to grab the 3 points. With the bombardment in the dying minutes, Red Star held out our scything attacks until the final whistle.
v. Chessington K.C. III (A) 0-3 L
Looking at the previous match, with the football that we produced then, we aimed to do the same but with more accurate shooting and clinical finish. We experimented with players being in different positions to see if it would make any difference and to score early on. We had a few opportunities, but came tantalising close, but not quite in the goal. We gave away a penalty, and they scored two goals quite clinically, but we pressurised them all the way, and there’s quite a bit to work on, but we are very confident that we will beat teams like Chessington K.C. III in the future.
The unique aspect about Fulham Reserves in the past few months is that we’re very close as a squad, supporting each other in and outside football. We are like, to coin a quote a “band of brothers”. This will be essential for the future and to further each player’s development into a better footballer and improve the team greatly, so that we can achieve big things.
Message from Coach Christof
It has certainly been a struggle this season for the lads mainly on the pitch. In training, they have showed excellent commitment and a real desire to learn new skills. While they have improved on the training pitch, it is a case of them applying their new learning onto the pitch.
Several players have improved by leap and bounds and will soon be pushing for a place in the first team. Already Chris Kenward has progressed to the first team and seem to be holding his own, obviously a loss to the reserves.
I would call this season a season of learning and am hopeful that the players will avoid relegation – obviously our main immediate priority this season. Next season we will be looking to recruit a handful of new players to strengthen the squad and possibly use a bit more of the first team players to give them much needed match practice.
The committee has already held a meeting to improve certain matters for both squads next season, which is something I am pleased about because it is never too early to plan ahead for next season. The main objectives will be consistency, discipline and results for 2008/09.
Onwards and upwards.
On a sidenote: If you’ve read all the way down to the bottom of this round-up, then credit to you and here’s the link to the Llantwit Major photos when the Reserves went to Wales to play Llantwit Major.