Fulham Deaf add League Cup to make it a cup double
As the Maori Park Reserves and Fulham DFC footballers emerged out of the tunnel onto the Hampton & Richmond Borough FC 's Beveree pitch a crowd of 150+ cheered them on.
As if being in the final was not enough incentive for Fulham Deaf, it was an opportunity for Fulham Deaf to gain revenge for their heaviest defeat of the season inflicted onto them by Maori Park Reserves only a month ago.
Maori kicked off and it was a cautious start by both sides with Maori upping the tempo after eight minutes. Fulham Deaf are pinned back inside their half and Andrew Vorster is called to the rescue with a timed clearance from the middle.
A Maori free kick is lobbed into the box and is slammed against the crossbar, which in turn hit the post and come back into play inside the box. The return shot hit the crossbar and was cleared for a throw in by Vorster. A lucky let off for Fulham Deaf.
Fifteen minutes gone, Richard Jeffers broke through after two quick passes by Bim Ajadi and Ryan Pendley but lobbed the ball wide of goal.
Andrew Drury scooped the ball up just outside the box and over hit it straight into Maori keeper's arms. Seconds later Drury is flicked through by Jeffers after an Ewan McGreevy's throughball but Drury hit the ball wildly with the outside of his boot. The ball sailed over the bar and also over the netting behind goal.
Pendley, Fulham Deaf's playmaker, won the loose ball near the left corner flag and cheekily tried to score from there with an outrageous lob after both sides froze thinking the offside flag went up.
On the half-hour, nineteen passes is recorded from deep inside Fulham Deaf's half all the way to Jeffers who hit the side netting on the outside. The combination of passes went from the whole of the back four, Vorster, John Docker, Ayad Sarraf, Nick Beese up to midfield Ajadi, Pendley and Ben Lampert before finding Jeffers.
Jeffers long deep cross from out wide on the right is headed back by Drury to B. Lampert who is in acres of space unmarked. Unfortunately B. Lampert rashly flicked the ball over the bar.
Maori attempted a series of back passes which resulted in their last man heading the ball back to their keeper. Before the ball could reach the keeper, Jeffers scooped in between and slotted the ball into the bottom of the net past the stranded Maori keeper to put Fulham Deaf 1 – 0 up.
Fulham Deaf continued to push up and Pendley's half volley from twenty-eight yards out went straight into Maori keeper's arms.
Maori's number seven excellent ball control past several Fulham Deaf footballers resulted in a shot straight to Richard Parker.
Half time came and the footballers went down the tunnel with Fulham Deaf 1 – 0 up.
Fulham Deaf began the second half as they did in the first, pinned down inside their own half with Maori intent on finding the equaliser. Ajadi and Drury gave away free kicks in succession at the same spot within a minute of each other. The first free kick was hauled into the box and easily cleared.
The second free kick was chipped out to the far post and Pendley charged down the oncoming ball to clear it away.
On the hour, B. Lampert's free kick from the half way line met Drury who headed it down to Pendley. Pendley's shot was charged down in return for his earlier similar action at the other end.
Beese, last man standing on a Maori's breakaway attack, managed to divert the ball away to safety. Maori resorted to their specialist long ball tactics which, tonight was well defended against by the Fulham Deaf back four.
On the sixty-third minute, Pendley slipped a sublime pass down to B. Lampert who raced towards Maori's goal hotly chased by two Maori's defenders. Lampert flicked the ball sideways to Jeffers for his second goal of the night.
Mark Gill came on for Ajadi two minutes later. Harewood came on for McGreevy with just over a quarter of an hour to go.
Gill quickly combined well with Beese in midfield, and Maori continued to lob long balls down the wings only for Fulham Deaf's back four to control them and slip them back to midfield.
Man of the match Pendley came off while Ben Stubbs got involved into the action. Minutes later, Beese freed B. Lampert down the left. B. Lampert darted down the wing and turned towards goal avoiding two tackles and slipped the ball to Harewood who scored at close range to kill the game off.
Minutes later, the referee blew for full-time and Fulham won the League Cup.
Christof Niklaus – Fulham Deaf FC Manager comments:
Tonight was a solid performance by the lads. They all remembered the hard fought quarter final and semi final wins against Westside and Westminster Casuals respectively so we wasn't going to throw this away quite so easily.
Maori Park Reserves could perhaps feel hard done by especially with hitting the woodwork early in the first half which might have changed the course of this final. We felt under pressure at times but I am proud of how we turned the game onto them with our counter attacks and playing a passing game to win the League Cup.
With promotion to Division One secured along with winning the British Deaf Cup and this League Cup in the space of ten days has been the culmination of our hard work. After several months of hard training and matches, we're now reaping in the rewards but we will not want to rest on our laurels what with the English Deaf Cup Final coming up this Saturday.
It was fantastic to see several familiar faces in the crowd after full-time especially our new favourite rivals from Westside and Westminster Casuals whom we played four times this season, twice in the league and twice in two cups including this one. I would like to thank these two teams for their gesture and magnificent sportsmanship in their congratulations after the final. Thank you.
I'm just so bloody relieved I never promised the lads a round each time after we won a cup especially with another cup final coming up this Saturday!!
Final score Maori Park Reserves 0 – 3 Fulham DFC (half time 0 – 1)
Fulham Deaf FC Line up:
Parker, Vorster, Sarraf, Beese, Docker, Ajadi (Gill 65), B. Lampert, McGreevy (Harewood 73), Pendley (Stubbs 82), Drury, Jeffers
Fulham Deaf FC Manager