Sheppey United played Fisher on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, in the Southern Counties East Football League, Premier Division. I had never been to Holm Park before and this looked to be a very exciting second SCEFL fixture of the weekend, with me having been a spectator at Glebe V Punjab United, the evening before.
The ground is well equipped with a decent sized seated covered stand and covered standing behind both goals. There is a two storey clubhouse and outdoor refreshment stands and bars. The pitch at Holm Park is a newly laid 3g pitch. Tickets needed to be purchased online before the game, but once they were downloaded it was simple to gain entry via one of the two turnstile entrances. This ground definitely made it feel like Sheppey United are one of the bigger clubs in the SCEFL.
Ernie Batten, the Sheppey United manager and a local businessman helped fund the new 3G pitch, which demonstrates he is obviously hugely invested emotionally and financially in the club.
Coming into the game, Sheppey sat 3rd with a win and a draw from their opening matches. Fisher were in 5th, having only played once in the league but having won 5-0 in their opening match against Rusthall, with their striker, Lee Weermes, scoring a hat-trick.
Fisher are a side that grew from the ashes of Fisher Athletic, after that club collapsed financially in 2009. They play in Salter Road, Rotherhithe and are managed by Ajay Ashanike.
Sheppey are well fancied for the title this year, with very little (other than a missed penalty in the final shootout) to separate them from the eventual winners and SCEFL favourites, Chatham Town, in the recent post-lockdown tournament. Fisher are more unknown, fancied to do well by many, but not as commonly expected to be in the shake up for the title. Today’s match up would test the mettle of those predictions and could leave one team sitting in the top three of the SCEFL, come the final whistle.
There was a decent crowd in the ground for the start of the game. Fisher came out in tangerine shirts and white shorts, with Sheppey United in red and white striped shirts and black shorts.
The first 25 minutes saw a tussle as both teams took full measure of each other. Tackles were full blooded but the game was played at pace and end to end.
Both sides had chances, with Fisher FC using the pace and drive of Malaki Coker and Jacob Katonia to create chances down the left.
In defence Jamal Howlett-Mundle, who recently got National press coverage, when he bravely came out to the public, was shepherding the Sheppey back line and limited the effectiveness of the Fisher pacemen.
Sheppey United attacked from both left and right and had a chance scrambled away from the goalmouth on 36 minutes, which turned out to be the best chance of the first half. The sides stopped for the break with the scores goalless.
Sheppey United applied real pressure throughout the second half, but Fisher defended well and when they had the chance, on the break, they continued to look sharp themselves. Then Sheppey brought tall and pacy striker James Jeffrey on, as a substitute, to partner Jack Midson and from a series of subsequent corners you could see the pressure it added to the Fisher team’s efforts to defend.
On 58 minutes Fisher finally failed to clear under pressure in the air. The Sheppey centre half, Ashley Sains, drilled in the chance and put Sheppey 1-0 up.
Fisher continued to battle to equalise throughout the second half and showed why they have started so well this season. Their passing play is a real strength. However Sheppey must feel proud as they managed the game well, for the final half an hour, to ensure the 1-0 win was secured.
Another great SCEFL battle and I am sure both these sides will be in the mix for top places at the season’s end.