Westleigh Park, Havant
Considering they have been long relegated and possibly have only eleven days before liquidation sees them reform much lower down the pyramid, or go dodo altogether, Fisher Athletic did not present the toughest of challenges in terms of the Hawks picking up a very late addition of pace in an otherwise sluggish season.
These Fish, you could say these days, come in a barrel of their own cooperage, and have been handing out the rifles ever since the bottom fell out of their recent rollercoaster existence. It was not long ago they were talking about 10,00 seater stadiums and full time football. Next year it may be about roped-off parks pitches and the Kent League, if that.
It has does nothing for the credibility of the Conference South that, since about October, any team facing Fisher are virtually guaranteed a win, with only four points coming their way since their mid November victory away at Bishop’s Stortford.
To be fair to them, Fisher’s young, inexperienced side lack nothing in effort and application in fighting for a cause they’ve no real connection to, having not been around in better times; an inferno fire-fight they’ve undertaken with only garden hose and a child’s beach bucket, with little or no reward either in the pocket or in terms of the collective morale. You can’t help but admire their strength of character and, certainly, the implausibly youthful-looking Alex Bentley (who would probably look less incongruous in a set of Spiderman pyjamas than a muddied Fisher strip) has impressed every time we’ve seen them.
However they are slight and callow and thus they struggle with the reading of the game, and the physicality of it and thus, had we been more ruthless, we might have had more than three. Mind you, aside from a 6-0 beating at the hands of Team Bath on the opening day of the season (when, let’s not forget, they still had a ‘proper’ squad), they’ve not taken any hammerings aside from the odd 4-0, not as many as you might expect in the circumstances anyway.
As such we shouldn’t feel disappointed – it was a job professionally done, with all three strikers chipping in with goals including a rare, and excellently finished, one in open play from Luke Nightingale. Paul Hinshelwood had a rare bad game but we’ll forgive him it in these less than high-octane circumstances, having been a reassuring presence since his arrival in terms of thinking, “well, where do we go from here?”
With safety now mathematically assured, the run-in feels weirdly anti-climactic and I think we’ll be glad to get the next fortnight out of the way so that we might retreat, regroup and properly consider our options for 2009/10. One thing we do know is that we’ll not have to face Fisher again next year which, for me in purely logistical terms, given the easy accessibility of their current Dulwich bivouac from my east London base, will be a shame.
For the boom-or-bust nature of their way of life, I imagine many others, even amongst the Fisher support, will be glad that closure on their story looks to be on its way.