Fisher FC 3-6 Hollands & Blair
Saturday 12 December 2015
Southern Counties East League
by Richard Day
Despite not playing particularly well, SCEFL leaders Hollands & Blair moved six points clear at the top after recording a 6-3 victory over Fisher at Champion Hill.
Manager Paul Piggott was far from happy with certain aspects of his teams performance and let the players know in no uncertain terms after the game. That said, having already won 6-1 at home back in August, Blair did complete the double over the Fish thanks to two goals apiece from James McDonald, Justin Ascheri and Rob Denness, which included a couple of stunners.
Playing into a strong wind Blair struggled to settle in the opening minutes with the pace of wide men Shelton Gooden and James Fray causing problems. In those early stages Dan Ellis had to save a Travis Gregory flick that followed a quick break and penalty appeals were waved aside by referee Richard Butcher when Alfie Nunn went down theatrically under a challenge from Steve Dampier.
However after starting slowly it was the visitors that opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Dampier played the ball to Ascheri who in turn fed the ball into the path of McDonald who smacked the ball beyond keeper Joel Hannington and in via the bar.
In response Jamie Taylor fired wide from distance before the home side equalised in the 21st minute from a free-kick that resulted in a yellow card for Lewis Taylor. Alfie Roche knocked the ball in and Dan Flemming rose highest to net with a downward header from six yards.
It took Blair just three minutes to regain the lead though, Jordan Gallagher ran at the home defence and when he was blocked McDonald laid the ball on a plate for Ascheri to drill inside the far post. This time parity was restored quickly by Dean Harrison’s outfit, it was on the half-hour that Gassimu Jalloh swept the ball home. The goal rightly being awarded despite a flag from assistant Joshua Howard following a discussion with the referee.
Blair were soon back on the offensive, a crossfield McDonald pass saw Gallagher gallop forward once again but his toe-poke didn’t really test Hannington. Man of the match Gallagher then got away down the right and pulled the ball back to McDonald, he miscued and Ascheri’s follow up was blocked.
The pressure told though when Blair added a third in the 36th minute. An Ascheri corner from the left was headed back across goal by Dampier and there was the predatory McDonald to nod the ball home from close range.
The visitors could have increased their lead further but a move involving Denness and McDonald ended with Ascheri curling a shot over the top. There were not too many clear cut chances in the opening 20 minutes of the second-half, actually there were two. Dampier saw a goalbound effort blocked following another Ascheri corner while Hannington tipped aside a curling Denness strike.
The lead was extended in the 65th minute when Sam Prescott played in a right-wing corner which Denness managed to squeeze in at the near post with a stooping header. Four minutes later it was 5-2, Ascheri clipped in a low free-kick to the feet of Denness who controlled before turning and slotting home from around ten yards.
It was three goals in six minutes for Blair when a poor clearance fell invitingly for Ascheri to smack home from around 45 yards out that crashed in off the bar – an outstanding strike. The mercurial Brett Ince replaced McDonald at that point and almost immediately smashed a shot into the side netting.
Unfortunately with a four goal lead both Denness, and to a lesser extent Ascheri, took on a one man crusade in search of their hat-tricks.
Hannington denied Denness when he saved well as the striker raced clear one-on-one, and then put two other efforts over despite having team-mates in better positions which was also the case when Ascheri also snatched at a shot from an angle.
It hadn’t been all one way traffic though, Gooden raced through but Ellis took advantage of a heavy touch to save at the wingers feet and in the 89th minute Gregory curled home a lovely 20-yarder that gave the Blair keeper no chance.