Saturday 11th
September 2010

Intermediate Division Two League

Croygas Phoenix
FC v Fulham Deaf FC


Fulham Deaf travelled to Croygas Sports Ground in Wallington with the knowledge
that they were about to face a real test in the shape of Croygas Phoenix, who
were about to play their first game against FDFC following their relegation
from Intermediate Division One last season.

With a depleted squad hit by
suspensions, illness and injuries, the Gaffer, Ayad Sarraf welcomed back one
key figure to start his first competitive game for FDFC in his new role- yes,
Assistant Manager Martin Willis was back in action after his hernia operation
and enforced grounding at home. Having escaped from the clutches of ‘her
indoors’, Martin and Ayad convened to pick the team for today’s team.

In the Croygas changing rooms, Sarraf
outlined the team selection, announcing a 4-4-2 formation, with Kemp starting
as goalkeeper, along with a back four from left to right, Lampert, Captain
Evans, McDougall and Monksfield. In between the back four and strikers, Hogan
and Swift were to operate on the wings, with Bovino and Gregory manning the
engine room in the middle. Willis and Wylde were once again chosen as the
strikers. Pafe, Vorster and Sarraf comprised the sub’s bench.

In the very first minute of the match,
our strikers had put a great deal of pressure on the Croygas defence, which
came to nothing with Willis hitting a shot over the crossbar. Soon after, a
strange official’s decision to award Croygas a throw in after a Croygas player
had clearly been the last man to touch the ball out, proved to be costly for
FDFC it resulted in an goal for Croygas. Gregory missed his attempted clearance
completely, with the ball falling kindly for a Croygas player to launch a
strike outside of the box, which crashed past the static Kemp, who should have
reacted quicker.

Only a few minutes later, things went
from bad to worse as a communication breakdown between McDougall and Kemp
resulted in the tall defender losing control of the bouncing ball, which the
Croygas forward capitalised on to give his side a 2-0 lead after only ten
minutes played. It was time for the Gaffer to hit the roof….

After the early goals, FDFC began to
settle down, with Willis hitting another shot over from close range after the
Croygas keeper had spilled a shot from distance. Soon after, however, a penalty
was awarded when Willis was bundled over in the box. Lampert, making his first
game back, converted with ease to bring FDFC back into the game at 2-1.

FDFC were soon back on level terms
when Wylde combined well with Hogan, only to see his shot well-blocked by a
Croygas defender. From the resultant corner, Hogan was able to pick up the ball
after the initial cross was half-cleared, launching a powerfully driven shot
into the top corner from outside the box to make it 2-2.

There was one more sting in the tail,
however, before half-time, as Croygas regained the lead. The opposition, who
were having joy down their right flank, were finally able to make it pay as their
right winger was given too much room to get in a cross, which McDougall could
not quite reach to clear. Unfortunately, the ball fell to the unmarked Croygas
left winger, who slammed in a well-struck shot in off the crossbar to give them
a 3-2 lead in the game.

As the referee blew for the interval,
the FDFC players nervously tiptoed to the technical area, which was housing an
volcanic eruption in the shape of the gaffer…..After boxing the team’s ears
about the quality of the team’s defending and general play, he sent the players
out to tighten up the team’s shape and look to play more direct football on the
narrow pitch.

During the first fifteen minutes of
the second half, the play from both sides was instantly forgettable, with very
little quality in evidence. At the end of this phase, an accidental, yet clear
handball was perpetrated by one of the Croygas defenders in the box, leaving
the referee no choice but to blow the whistle and award a penalty. Lampert
stepped up and drove the ball high into the roof of the net to make it 3-3.

Following the equaliser, Bovino was
replaced by Pafe with 10 minutes to go. The last quarter saw Croygas have
marginally the better of the play, although there were chances again for Willis
and Hogan to win the match. The defensive performance, whilst not perfect, was
much improved on the shambles that the first half had brought. The full time
whistle then went on the match, which ended 3-3.

Both the Gaffer and his right-hand man
expressed how delighted they were with our 2nd half defence, with no
goals conceded, but could not understand why the overall performance was so
poor. Too many players had under performed on the day and didn’t try to make up
for it enough by working hard to maintain shape and keep pressure on the opposition.
FDFC are now looking to move forwards and will welcome Brockham on the
following Saturday. Brockham are expected to provide strong opposition after
beating Westside 2-0.

The Gaffer awarded the man of the
match to Evans (with Gregory close behind), for his never say die spirit and
passion, as well as for contributing heavily to the much improved defensive
performance in the second half.

Final score Croygas Phoenix 3 Fulham
Deaf 3 (HT 3 – 2)

FDFC Line-up :- Kemp, Monksfield,
McDougall, Evans (Captain), Lampert, Swift, Bovino (Pafe 80 mins), Gregory,
Hogan, Willis and Wylde