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Phoenix Sports 26/4/14 Lost 0-2

Match Report by Kevin Hall posted on 27th April 2014

Phoenix hoodoo strikes again as two goals in 90 seconds sink United

Match Stats

Date: Sat 26 Apr 2014

Kick Off: 3.00pm

Match Type: Southern Counties East Football League

Venue: Homelands

Score (FT): 0-2

Score (HT): 0-0

Referee: Gerry Heron

Assistants: Joe Kasper & S Jackson

Bookings:

Ashford:
Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

:
Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

Teams: ASHFORD UNITED
1 Jo Mant
2 Tom Scorer (off 85)
3 Liam Whiting
4 Gary Clarke
5 Jordan Miller
6 Luke Cuthbert
7 Dave Cook
8 Adam Cuthbert
9 Michael Smissen (off 74)
10 Gary Mickelborough (off 57)
11 Ronnie Dolan

Substitutes (used *)
12 Ian Wallace
14 Sam Conlon * (on 74)
15 Dan Scorer
16 Sam Fisher * (on 57)
17 Jordan Harris * (on 85)

PHOENIX SPORTS
1 Dean Nash
2 Frankie Griffin
3 Richie Hamill
4 Drew Crush
5 James Brown
6 Frazer Rogers (off 46)
7 Sam Corne
8 Alex Nelson
9 Ricky Freeman
10 Andy Constable (off 77)
11 Miles Cornwell

Substitutes (used *)
12 Shaquille Richards * (on 46)
14 Sam Flisher * (on 77)
15 Ryan Andrews


Attendance: 235

Southern Counties East League runners-up side Ashford United’s hopes of a winning end to a superb 2013-14 were dashed, when bogey side Phoenix Sports struck twice in 90 seconds during the second-half, to mute the end of season Homelands celebrations.

The defeat, was the first time since season 2006-07 that the club had been beaten in the final match, after Tooting & Mitcham left the Homelands on 28 April 2007 with 1-0 win over Ashford Town in the Isthmian League South.

Whether runners-up spot is enough to get United back to Isthmian League level for 2014-15, well we’ll just have to wait and see, whether the powers that be offer promotion to the side to the next level for that campaign.

The reverse signalled a disappointing finale to the season, but perhaps it is little wonder that it has been difficult to maintain the form shown in the first two thirds of the season. Having played 18 of an overall total of 50 matches, in the space of just 50 days since 8th March, Ashford suffered seven defeats during that spell, including four from the final five matches, in a tough end to the season.

The 2-0 win maintained the hoodoo that the Barnehurst club have over United, as it was their seventh victory in the eight matches that the two sides have met. Ashford’s only success coming via a penalty shoot-out in the Kent Senior Trophy back in February, when the quarter-final tie ended all square at 1-1.

Having had the runners-up spot confirmed last Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Tunbridge Wells thanks to James Dryden’s close range header, Ashford were keen to end on a high, but the subsequent defeat at Whyteleafe on Easter Monday ensured that the Surrey side could not be caught, so there was the hint of an end of season feeling about final match of the campaign which in truth never really got going.

The playing fluency though was not helped by a stiff breeze blowing and although Ashford were kicking with the wind during the first period, they struggled to adapt as well as their visitors to the conditions, being guilty of a number of over hit passes and poorly directed dead ball situations.

In terms of possession Ashford bossed the first-half, with Dave Cook first to test goalkeeper Dean Nash after five minutes, but the visiting custodian gathered well. Shortly afterwards Michael Smissen beat the offside trap, but a clever lob was always going wide of the target and then Adam Cuthbert headed wide.

Most of the shots were speculative and long range and both Nash and Jo Mant handled these with ease as the half wore on. Probably the most powerful shots came from the left peg of Liam Whiting who enjoyed a good game, but his rocket mid way through the half was blocked by Drew Crush en route to goal.

On 37 minutes Whiting again let fly with a free-kick from 25 yards which saw Nash again gather well, the strike followed a foul on Gary Mickelborough by Frazer Rogers which saw the visiting captain yellow carded. Rogers seemed to lose the plot thereafter, committing other fouls and was perhaps lucky to escape a second booking and was sensibly substituted at the half-time interval.

Phoenix came at Ashford strongly during the second 45 minutes and Mant was a busy keeper, producing a finger tip save to deny Ricky Freeman and then pulling off an even better save shortly afterwards as Phoenix laid siege in the Ashford box.

From a curling corner, Crush rose and his downward header looked goal bound, but somehow Mant reacted, to dive low to his right and spoon the ball up and over the crossbar, to pull off not just the save of this season, but the save of many a season.

Phoenix were on top, although the constant whingeing and whining of Freeman and Andy Constable finally tried the patience of the Referee, with the burly Constable shown a yellow card after 62 minutes for mouthing off once too often, some players just never learn. The comical duo certainly raised the entertainment level, especially when the pair tripped each other up in the penalty box, which caused much amusement amongst the Homelands faithful.

Richie Hamill’s teasing delivery into the six-yard box almost carved out an opportunity for Phoenix, but somehow United managed to scramble the ball away from the danger area and out for a corner kick.

However the deadlock was broken in the 76th minute, when the entertaining Contstable whipped in a great cross, which found the head of Miles Cornwell, who headed home in some style, giving Mant no chance.

Then just 90 seconds later, from their next attack Phoenix doubled the lead as Freeman found himself with time and space to easily find the net.

There was little action of note after the two goal burst as the game drifted to a conclusion and Ashford rarely threatened to grab a goal as Phoenix ran out worthy winners on the day.

Paul Chambers and John Ovard should take great credit from a great season and if the squad remains together, then surely Ashford will look to build on the success of this season and mount a worthy challenge once more in four months time.

Match Reporter Kevin Hall