the real fa cup


IMG_6178.JPG By pure unadulterated chance, this Non League Day weekend has turned into a therealfacup tribute to former Gill, Bee, Royal, Blue, Seagull and Horse, Nicky Forster.  Having got mild sunburn in the white FA Cup heat of watching his first proper club, Horley Town, on Saturday, Sunday saw us soaked to the bone watching him play for his current club, Lingfield, against the reborn Fisher FC. Sweet, sweet summer.

Having eulogised about the impressive way in which Fisher won through to this tie, we were expecting some serious entertainment out of this game, not to mention a frisson of glamour with Mr Forster and his chum, former Hammer, Ian Pearce.

IMG_6198.JPG Try as we might to promote the underdog, the new guy, the unheard of and untried, it’s nice occasionally to have that little window into the upper echelons of the game. It may be a while since either player troubled the top flight but Foz himself looked barely older than when I last saw him play for Ipswich more than five years ago. I liked Forster, he was quick of foot and thought and, I hope he won’t mind me saying, a little like the (not very much) poor(er) man’s Kevin Phillips, largely because Super Kev was a better finisher.

IMG_6202.JPG Pearce, who we were expecting to look like a ‘Razor’ Ruddock-shaped car crash following his steady dive down the pyramid, surprised us by resembling Ian Pearce of West Ham. Excellent, you’d therefore expect both to make a huge difference in a tie between two sides, ostensibly, at similar levels in football’s grand scheme. And they were, although not obviously.

Where Fisher’s youthful vigour and determination to get the ball down and aim into the opponent’s half was dynamic and purposeful, Pearce regulated his defensive cohorts with the calm air of a man who’s faced some of the best strikers of the last decade. Forster didn’t get the service he’d have been used to in times gone by either but his movement and vision was exemplary and, contrary to my previous comments about his finishing, he got two chances and buried both.

IMG_6216.JPG In the seventh minute with Lingfield’s first real foray into the Fisher half, Forster peeled off down the side of his man to take a short free kick first time with a chip into the box. The onrushing defender was in mid leap, raised his hands and the ball whacked into them. Penalty. Forster tucked it into the corner. 1-0 Lingfield.

Fisher though looked the better side. The quick first time passing and one-touch football we saw last week was there but the rain, the bobbly Whyteleafe pitch and their own poor final ball was letting them down and disrupting their flow.

IMG_6221.JPG Just as it looked likely it was going to be a stereotypical frustrating day for Fisher, left back Danny Tipple provided a perfect inswinging cross and O’Donnell leapt like a pro to plant a solid header into Lingfield’s net. 1-1 at half time.

The second half was significantly more open, with an end to end feel. Lingfield held less with ‘Rooney’ (he really did look like pocket Rooney and the Lingfield fans confirmed that after we’d noted it) sitting more than in the first half, allowing the increasingly impressive Harry Simtin to get up with the strikers.

IMG_6230.JPG With about 20mins to go Nick noted there didn’t look like being another goal despite the ball pinging around and I said if there was going to be one I fancied Fisher. Obviously, within a few minutes Lingfield took the lead again through Forster and we were at the wrong end. A corner was curled into the six yard box, Fisher’s defence were caught napping, not for the first time, and Forster sneaked in front of them and glanced the ball past everyone. Two hits, two scores.

Fisher’s already seive-like defence now grew some larger holes and the final two goals were from throw ins that the defence simply watched drift over and through them to allow two finishes by Simtin.

IMG_6244.jpg The second of Simtin’s brace was a proper shambles but the first did at least have some nice build up play that saw Simtin himself rampage right through the middle and set off a fierce shot that produced the save of the day from Fisher’s vocal and unlucky custodian Danny Firkins. The ball was booted clear for a throw but came straight back in, flicked off the head of a defender at the near post and Simtin was there unmarked inside the six yard box with enough time to bring it down with his chest and smash it home.

We said a quick hello to Fisher dignitaries, Ben & Dan, but didn’t really know what to say to them or want to intrude in their moment of reflection, so snapped the superstars and off we went.

Lingfield are in good hands for this season at least, both the old pros appear to have a fair bit left in the tank, Fisher’s future is less certain. They try to play a brand of football that belies their position, which made both I and Nick want to go back and watch them again. We hope the winter pitches and desire to quickly get back to the top table of non-league football doesn’t mean they abandon that ethos and resort to the more pragmatic method of progressing up the pyramid.

  1. Cheers Damon, good report. Although I would point out – having review the video evidence on the FA site(!) – that the penalty against us was harsh, and we should have had a spot kick ourselves early on.

    That said, the defending at set pieces let us down which was a shame. Plenty of good points to take from the game though, and roll on the Vase on Saturday!

    I think we’ll continue to play the same way. We’d love to move up the pyramid again but this time we need to do it properly, so job number one is get a secure base back in Rotherhithe.

  2. Damon Threadgold

    Plenty of positives – and 4-1 doesn’t really reflect the balance of play. Dearly hope you keep playing that way, we’ll definitely be back to watch. Good luck with getting back to Rotherhithe, how is that going by the way?

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