Away league match played on 02 March 2014.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

After last weeks demolition of Dartford White, Phoenix Lions travelled to Wilmington to play Hayden Hornets in confident mood. Despite their league position, Hayden had given the Lions are close game earlier in the season and had some physical players so it would be a good test of character for the boys.

Kick Off

Phoenix started in their now familiar formation with a solid back four, three in midfield and one up front. Despite the excellent pitch, it was a slow start from Phoenix. They were not being given any time on the ball and Hayden looked a little bit sharper and quicker.

Despite the poor start, the back line of Jai Carter, Ben Chesley and sweeper Charlie Hanmore had looked relatively untroubled as they dealt well with any threat, particularly in the air, as it quickly became obvious Hayden liked the direct approach to goal.

Archie Roast managed the first chance of the game as he ran down the left and just managed to keep the ball in play despite the protests from the Hayden management. He weaved inside and made space for the shot but the keeper had it covered.

Phoenix had plenty of the ball but were not passing to each other, many of the players taking it on themselves without looking up to find a team mate.

The next chance of the game fell to Hayden and they took it well. The Phoenix back line had pushed up and a long ball through the middle saw the big Hayden striker run clear. There looked to be a case for off-side but the linesman gave the benefit of the doubt and didn’t raise his flag. The Hayden striker controlled the pass and shot past Josh Anderson in goal to give his side the lead. Hayden 1 Lions 0.

Despite this being a wake-up call, the Lions barely improved and came under a constant aerial bombardment of long balls and long throws. George Dennington – possibly Phoenix tallest player – was winning most headers though.

Disaster came as a corner from Hayden was not cleared and fell to a Hayden midfielder on the edge of the box. There looked to be little on but the Phoenix players didn’t close him down and allowed him to lift a hopeful ball over the top and out of reach of the scrambling Josh in goal. Hayden 2 Lions 0.

Phoenix needed someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck and it was Charlie Hanmore who did just that. He intercepted another potential Hayden attack and ran through their midfield before passing down the line to Oscar Hart. Oscar did well and got his cross away and Archie Roast sped in at the near post to flick home. Hayden 2 Lions 1. Game on.

Half Time – Hayden Hornets 2 Phoenix Lions 1

During Half-Time, the management team gave the boys a stern team talk and told them the need to pass the ball and play like a team.

It seemed to work as just after the break, Phoenix were level.

Charlie Hanmore again influential as he ran the ball out of defence and straight at the Hayden players. After skipping past two challenges he found himself on the edge of the box where he was urged to shoot. He did just that and unleashed a right foot shot low to the keepers left who couldn’t quite reach it. Hayden 2 Lions 2.

Now level, Phoenix were playing with more confidence and more like a team. Some of the passing moves were superb with quick one-two’s and some fleet footed wing play from Tom Wray on the right and James Ash down the left.

However, it was neither of those sources that gave Phoenix the lead. Some neat inter-play between Jack Whitman and Archie Roast led to a neat pass falling to Henry Powell outside the box. As the ball bounced kindly, he unleashed a right foot volley that flew past the stranded Hayden keeper and in. Hayden 2 Phoenix 3.

Phoenix were now well on top and looking for another. The Hayden keeper made some good saves including a finger-tip stretch over the bar which most keepers his age probably wouldn’t have reached. James Ash was now having a field day down the left and being a constant threat. It was James who set up Archie for number 4. A rare Hayden attack meant a lot of their players had pushed up. Josh Anderson quickly threw the ball out to James who controlled it well and looked up. He saw Archie through the middle and made the slide rule pass into Archie’s path. Despite the onrushing keeper, Archie kept his cool to nick the ball round him and run the other side and slot in from a narrow angle. Hayden 2 Phoenix 4.

A few tackles now started to fly in as Phoenix played the ball around and Hayden became frustrated but Phoenix didn’t neglect their defensive duties, Archie steaming back 2 or 3 times with some great tackles  - one of which the Hayden manager and parents thought was unfair.

Despite there not being long left, Hayden were determined to salvage something from the game and forced a late corner. Phoenix failed to clear the ball again and it fell to a Hayden player who shot towards the goal. But there was Charlie Hanmore well placed on his post and in the perfect position to make an acrobatic clearance.

The young referee decided time was up and blew for full time.

Full Time – Hayden Hornets 2 Phoenix Lions 4

A proverbial game of two halves. A poor first half which was unexpected given last weeks good win but a great second half which saw some of the best football the boys have played for a while.

5 league games left to play then, 3 of which are against teams in the top half of the table but the last two weeks have at least given the Lions some confidence and a good points cushion.

Come on you Lions!

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