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Phoenix Sports 11/4/15 Won 2-1

Match Report by Kevin Hall posted on 11th April 2015

Phoenix hoodoo over after Byrne wonder goal ends leaders unbeaten run

Match Stats

Date: Sat 11 Apr 2015

Kick Off: 3.00pm

Match Type: Southern Counties East Football League

Venue: Mayplace Road East Barnehurst, Bexleyheath

Score (FT): 2-1

Score (HT): 0-0

Referee: John Naziri

Assistants: Dan Procter & Kenan Dogan

Bookings:

Ashford:
Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

:
Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

Teams: ASHFORD UNITED
Joe Mant
Adam Cuthbert
Luke Cuthbert
Jamie Collado (off 58)
Danny Lye
Pat Kingwell
Gary Clarke
Michael Phillips
Stuart Zanone
Darren Marsden (off 61)
Tom Scorer (off 88)

Substitutes (used *)
Gary Mickelborough * (on 58)
Michael Smissen * (on 88)
Liam Walsh
Lloyd Blackman
Keiran Byrne * (on 61)

PHOENIX SPORTS
Steve Phillips
Myles Keizer-Burrows
Danny Moore
Russell Bedford (off 74)
Scott Whibley
Chris Hill
Harrison Carnegie
Jason Goodchild
Carl Cornell (off 88)
Yacine Gnahore
Aaron Jeffrey (off 61)

Substitutes (used *)
George King * (on 61)
James Brown
Ryan Andrews * (on 74)
Andy Constable * (on 88)
Jack White


Attendance: 171

Ashford United showed great fighting spirit to pull off a spectacular 2-1 victory and end the unbeaten run of Southern Counties East leaders Phoenix Sports, despite going down to 10 men after 12 minutes and then conceding the opening goal early in the second-half.

The hoodoo over Phoenix finally ended in injury time at the end of the table topping encounter, thanks to a quite brilliant individual 30-yard strike from substitute Keiran Byrne, which flew like a tracer bullet into the top right corner of the goal.

Danny Lye was dismissed following a challenge on Russell Bedford near the touchline, when the pair clashed after attempting to win an awkward bouncing ball. Lye adjudged to have led dangerously with his elbow and after a short delay was given his marching orders by Referee John Nazari, however no free-kick was awarded after the dust had settled.

This early incident which saw the dismissal of Lye, seemed to be the catalyst which led to a number of early bookings in the opening 18 minutes, before thankfully the match settled down.

It was though in truth a tense and tetchy affair, particularly the first half, which saw few chances of note, although Sports Aaron Jeffrey missed probably the best opportunity inside just four minutes firing way over the crossbar following a neat pass from Harrison Carnegie, who was easily the pick of the home players.

Joe Mant generally had little to do and was in great command of his area, but did well to deny a goal bound effort from the head of Chris Hill shortly after the red card episode. It has to be said too that at the back the Cuthbert brothers, Adam & Luke were in outstanding form on the return visit to former club Phoenix.

United gradually grew into the game and on 21 minutes their best move of the half saw the ever reliable Pat Kingwell link up nicely with Michael Phillips and Gary Clarke, before Clarke tumbled inside the area, but the referee waved away visiting appeals for a penalty.

Towards the end of the first-half United enjoyed a good spell of pressure, Scorer letting fly then Phillips drifted in a free kick into the danger area, but no one was on hand to add the vital touch.

The Nuts & Bolts looked to have been awarded a penalty on 49 minutes when Darren Marsden and Stuart Zanone combined well, before the former was tripped, the offence appearing to be inside the area. Mr Nazari felt otherwise and placed the ball just outside the edge of the 18-yard box, top scorer Zanone then wasted the free-kick by clearing the crossbar but quite some margin.

However the deadlock was broken four minutes later as Phoenix took the lead, Carnegie waltzed down the right wing to send in a neat delivery, which found Yacine Gnahore who turned to fire a low shot past Mant.

Most 10 men sides would have buckled having gone a goal behind, but in the face of adversity the response and commitment was first class, particularly as victory for Phoenix could have seen them crowned champions at the final whistle.

Almost immediately Zanone, after only returning from the USA on the day, was unlucky to see the flag raised for offside, after what looked like a perfectly timed run.

Then Ashford deservedly got back on level terms, Scorer being bundled over inside the 18-yard box by Hill after substitutes Gary Mickelborough and Bryne had combined to set up the opportunity which led to an obvious penalty.

Fans favourite Mickelbororough, having doing brilliantly to twist and turn his man and not give up a lost cause to keep the ball in play, before his delivery into the box which led to the spot-kick, this piece of never-say-die skill typified the performance of Ashford on the day.

Phillips duly converted the spot-kick in the 63rd minute by blasting the ball down the centre of the goal for his second penalty in as many matches, after also converting in the 4-0 win over Woodstock Sports on Easter Monday.

Ashford were relieved four minutes later when Adam Cuthbert appeared to time a tackle to perfection after a fast counter attack by Phoenix, Mr Naziri however thought differently and flashed him a yellow card, even the home bench were amazed at the decision.

The foot of the post then came to the rescue of the league leaders as United came close to taking the lead, when Phillips curled in a free-kick, the ball glancing off Jason Goodchild but luckily for him it rolled across the six-yard box and was cleared. Clarke then saw a shot blocked en-route to goal, whilst the head of Byrne was thwarted by a neat save by Steve Phillips.

Then as the game entered stoppage time, United pressed forward before the ball fell to Byrne whose sweet left footed screamer took his tally to nine for the campaign, giving Phillips no chance and finally earn United a win over their nemesis at the ninth attempt.

The home side in front of a decent 171 attendance could have lifted the title with a win, provided third placed Erith & Belvedere, level with United before kick-off and trailing by 11 points, failed to do likewise. In the end, the Deres were held to a 2-2 draw at Sevenoaks, so had Phoenix held on after going in front, they would indeed have been crowned champions.

Ultimately it is of course Phoenix’s title to lose, but Paul Chambers will have nothing but praise for the way his troops rallied after being down to 10 men for so much of the game, the Nuts & Bolts having to show great resilience after the Danny Lye red card.

Match Reporter Kevin Hall