Away league match played on 15 September 2013.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

With the summer break over and 2 pre-season tournaments behind them, it was time for the Phoenix Lions to play their first league match of the season.

The new season represented a new challenge for the Lions with the move to 9-a-side with bigger pitches, bigger goals and a longer match time. 2 new players were added to the squad over the summer in the shape of solid defender Euan Corbett-Smith who transferred from Danson Sports and Oscar Hart, a diminutive but skillful midfielder who moved from Parkwood Rockets.

Oscar and Managers player of the year George Dennington were missing for the first game so it was down to the remaining squad of 10 to try and get the season off to a winning start.

Kick Off

Phoenix started brightly in the sunshine playing some good football. Their shape was solid and the defensive trio of Charlie, Euan and Jai with Ben and Tom in front of them looked untroubled. Parents player of the year, Charlie Hanmore, playing in the sweeper role was able to bring the ball out of defence and play some lovely one-two's with James Ash down the left hand side. Jack Whitman and Archie Roast tried to pull the strings up front but South Darenth were able to protect their keeper.

The breakthrough came towards the end of the first half as Phoenix were awarded a corner. Archie Roast took the corner quickly when he saw James Ash unmarked on the edge of the box. James struck the ball well past the Darenth keeper. 1-0.

Half Time - South Darenth 0 Phoenix Lions 1

As the second half started, it was evident that the South Darenth manager had asked his team to up the tempo. They were first to every ball, closed down the Lions quickly and didn't allow them to play.

They got back in the game when the Phoenix defence lost its shape and left Charlie two on one. A smart pass left the striker with only Josh to beat and he finished well to level the scores. 1-1.

Phoenix now knew they were in a game and tried to get back in front. Henry Powell went close to giving them back the lead but wasn't able to finish. Every Phoenix attack was well cut out and they were starting to tire.

South Darenth continued to pile on the pressure and had a few chances of their own. In the next attack Euan was judged to have obstructed the Darenth striker and an indirect free kick was given. Phoenix lined up a wall and had players ready to charge down the pass. However, they were slow to react and as the kick was laid back to the waiting Darenth player, he dispatched a curling shot into the top corner. Josh almost got there but it was just beyond his reach. 1-2.

As the game drew to a close, it looked like there was only going to be one winner. Darenth had a few more chances which Josh saved well - one with his face - or defenders made last ditch tackles, one of them saw Euan injured.

Full Time - South Darenth 2 Phoenix Lions 1

Phoenix not starting the season as they would have wanted but now know what to expect from the bigger sided matches. Lots of energy needed, lots of tackling and the need to be first to every ball. The first half showed they can play some excellent football but need to keep that belief when the game is not going their way. Dare we say it but the Lions need more bite!

Onto next week......


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