Away other match played on 12 April 2014.
Kicked off at 11:00 AM

Everything was good in the world. The sun was out, the sky was blue, it was half term holidays for the boys and in recent weeks the Phoenix Lions had seemingly grasped the concept of playing to a formation, understanding their responsibilities within their role in the team and playing for each other. The boys were on a three match unbeaten run which included a 2-0 win at Ebbsfleet White (quite possibly the best team performance that they have ever produced) followed by another solid team display in a 3-2 win against Teviot Red. Up this week was a seemingly winnable Shield game against Long Lane Lions a team with, at best, an average record in Selkent League B South. Another win to extend our unbeaten run you would think…….or would the Jekyll & Hyde Phoenix Lions return to haunt us ?     

This week we were again without two players, stalwart defenders Charlie Hanmore & Euen Corbett-Smith. While their defensive qualities would be missed, the boys had shown the previous week that they could adapt and cover positions when we also had two players missing. With two defenders missing, manager Jason had a difficult decision to make as to who would drop back to fill the positions. The starting line- up he decided on was  Josh Anderson in goal, a back three of James Ash, Archie Roast and Jai Carter, a midfield of Jack Whitman, George Dennington, Ben Chesley & Tom Wray with Henry Powell up front and Oscar Hart ready to play his part later in the game - an adventurous line- up. The opposition were also missing two defenders this week and had seemingly lined up in an attacking 3-2-3 formation. It was going to be an interesting game.

The game kicked off with the Phoenix immediately on the back foot with Long Lane’s forwards using both wings and pressing well.  Jai and James made some good blocks from Long Lane attempts forcing the ball out for a throw in level with the penalty area. From the resultant throw in Phoenix could not deal with the physicality of the big Long Lane centre forward and did not clear their lines properly. A poor clearance attempt was easily charged down by the Long Lane centre forward and the ball fell conveniently to another Long Lane player who slotted in with ease. Just the start that Phoenix did not want with no more than a minute on the clock. Long Lane 1 Phoenix 0.

Phoenix responded very well to going behind with numerous attacking forays. Firstly, Archie dribbled the ball out of defence and looked up and fed a neat through ball to the advancing Henry whose shot was expertly saved at the near post by the Long Lane keeper. Then Tom made a marauding run down the left and hit a first time shot that the keeper also collected. George then found Jack with a good through ball but the Long Lane defender managed to time a last ditch tackle very well. Henry then had a second one on one with the Long Lane keeper who yet again saved the resultant shot. Phoenix were creating many chances but were taking too many risks at the back, especially with the score only being 1-0. And so it came, not without warning, a Phoenix attack had everyone barring Jai committed forward, a simple long clearance ball met a Long Lane forward who made a simple pass to his attacking partner who slotted in past Josh. Long Lane 2 Phoenix 0.

Again, Phoenix responded on the front foot. A good shot from Jack was tipped around the post by the Long Lane keeper  for a corner. The resultant corner was met first by Henry and then by Oscar (who had replaced Tom by that time) but the shots were cleared off the line with last ditch efforts by Long Lane players. Unfortunately, Phoenix had not learned their lesson from the previous goal and had committed everyone forward yet again. The clearance was made and the Long Lane players broke quickly and played the ball forward eventually finding a Long Lane striker who tapped the ball into an empty net. Too easy…..  Long Lane 3 Phoenix 0. 

The half time whistle blew and it must have been a blessed relief for manager Jason as had the half continued it would only have followed the same pattern. It had not been pretty with defenders committing themselves too far forward, midfielders not dropping back and attackers missing numerous chances. As poor a half of football as the boys had played for some time.

HALF TIME: Long Lane Lions 3 Phoenix Lions 0

Jason acted at the break by changing the defence around completely. Tom came on to replace Jai at right back, George dropped from midfield to replace James at left back, James moved from left back to centre back and Archie moved forward into his usual midfield role.  The changes had an instant impact with Phoenix looking more settled during the early exchanges of the second half. Within minutes Phoenix had their first success of the morning. A run into the box and shot by Henry rebounded to Ben just outside the area, whose first time cross fell to Henry who expertly shot past the Long Lane keeper. An early second half goal -  Just what was needed. Long Lane 3 Phoenix 1. 

Just when we thought that the match had turned, we were reminded of our defensive frailties once again. Immediately from the kick off, Long Lane went on the attack down the right. The Phoenix defence had a couple of unsuccessful attempts at clearing the ball which found its way back into the area where the Long Lane forward tapped in. The ball should have been cleared. Disappointing in view of the way the match had turned.  Long Lane 4 Phoenix 1 


There then followed a long period of absolute dominance by Phoenix who started to play the type of football we had got used to over recent weeks. The Phoenix midfield were starting to dominate. An excellent Archie pass found Jack whose shot was saved by the Long Lane keeper for a corner. Further pressure was being applied and a run and shot by Ben was again collected by the keeper. A lovely combination of passes led to an Archie first time shot across goal that just went wide of the post. A long Lane foul  just outside the area gave Phoenix a free kick that Archie fired in. The ball bounced conveniently to our expert poacher Henry and he did not let us down with a low shot into the net. Game on……. Long Lane 4 Phoenix 2

It was all Phoenix at this point with pressure being applied from everywhere. A good combination between Jack, Archie and Oscar led to an Oscar shot that went just wide. Henry then made a battling run down the wing and also shot just wide. It was just a matter of time before the next goal was scored. Indeed it did come but unfortunately for Phoenix it was Long Lane that found the net. A Long Lane attack was broken down by Phoenix but rather than clearing their lines with a long ball forward or indeed with a simple pass the Phoenix defence tried to dribble the ball out losing the ball in the process. The large Long Lane centre forward then took the ball forward himself past some poor Phoenix tackling and round Josh into an empty net.  Poor defending…Jason would not have been happy. Long Lane 5 Phoenix 2


At this point the goal was definitely against the run of play but not unexpected in the way that the boys had been playing today. The response was another continued onslaught on the Long Lane goal. Numerous chances were created and either missed or expertly saved by the Long Lane keeper who was outstanding. An Archie trademark run and shot bobbled and was spilled by the keeper but who managed to recover and save the resultant Henry shot. A good run from midfield from Ben found Henry who cut inside and found Jack with a pass whose shot went just wide. A lovely Archie run and shot was met with a great save from the keeper who pushed the ball round the post. A One/two between Archie and Jack led to another save from the keeper. Phoenix were pressing and a run and shot from James was also put behind by the goalie for a corner. Finally, a lovely Tom cross was met by Jack and yet again saved by the keeper. Unfortunately, by this time it was too little too late and the referee blew her whistle ending proceedings.

Full Time: Long Lane Lions 5 Phoenix Lions 2


A week to forget for the Lions… or more fairly, a first half to forget. In fairness had it not been for the Long Lane goalkeeper, the match could easily have ended 5-5 or even better but the management team of Jason and Martyn were rightly not concerned with the score but more with the performance which at times, especially during the first half was very poor. Recent weeks had proved that the boys could play to a formation and as a team with each understanding their roles and applying the knowledge gained from training in those roles. Poor defending, poor support and poor finishing led to a defeat against a team that the boys are more than capable of beating. With the proposed competition for places next year the boys need to show greater commitment and adaptability going forward. We have the Easter break coming up and therefore no game next weekend so it is down to the boys to show Jason and Martyn their fighting spirit during training this week.




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