Home league match played on 19 October 2014.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

Phoenix Lions were back in Selkent B East League action this week against Junior Reds Sabres who they have played many times before but without much success.

It was another warm morning as the Indian summer continued.

George was absent again this week so Phoenix would have 11 available.

Kick Off

Phoenix lined up with Tom in goal, in front of him Euan, Charlie and Josh protected by Ben in the CDM role. In front of him Cameron with James and Oscar providing the width and Henry up front. Jai and Jack would be on the bench waiting to join the action.

From the start it was clear that this week would not be like the past 2 cup games where Phoenix were given time to play their game. Sabres hustled and closed down quickly and then broke at pace.

Despite having the better of the early play, Phoenix were defending well and it looked an even game.

Phoenix were trying to get into the game with James having a few runs down the left and Henry making things happen up front. His only downfall being not releasing the ball early enough and trying to go it alone.

Phoenix could count themselves unlucky to go behind. Sabres attacked down the left and as the ball came in, it was struck well by their striker but it cannoned off the bar and Tom looked to have scooped away the danger. However, the linesman signalled to the referee that the ball had crossed the line and the goal was given. 0-1. It was like 1966 all over again……….and no hawkeye available.

Shortly afterwards Phoenix made amends when some good work from Oscar and Henry allowed James to steal in at the far post and slot home for 1-1.

After getting themselves back in the game, Phoenix fell behind again as Sabres cut through them with some good play and squeezed a shot just past Tom to make it 1-2.

As half time approached, Sabres won a free kick just side the box. The Sabres defender who had given virtually nothing away all game and had a deadly left foot curled it in and as Tom came and shouted for the ball he stopped and allowed the striker to easily slot past him for 1-3.

A very frustrating half for Phoenix who had been in the game but without really testing the Sabres keeper too much.

Half Time – Phoenix Sports Lions 1 Junior Reds Sabres 3

Jack came on for the second half replacing Henry up front and had an almost immediate impact.

James who had had a fairly quiet first half by his standards got in down the left and crossed for Jack to stab home an excellent finish to make it 2-3.

But just as in the first half, after getting themselves back in the game, Phoenix didn’t consolidate.

After giving the ball away in midfield again, the Sabres midfielder struck from range beyond the reach of the diving Tom to make it 2-4.

In danger of letting their heads go down again, it needed something so spark Phoenix into action.

Charlie as vice-captain took it upon himself and tried bringing the ball out of defence with some lung busting runs, almost playing in James and Jack on a couple of occasions.

However, on one occasion he was caught in possession and went down injured. Instead of giving the foul or stopping play, the referee allowed play to continue with Charlie lying on the pitch in pain and the Sabres ended up 4 against 2 as the midfield had not tracked back and scored to make it 2-5.

Charlie was in the wars again shortly after when a nasty studs up tackle on his ankle left him in tears. However, after treatment he was able to continue. Euan was next in the wars but managed to play on.

Sabres could sense Phoenix heads had now gone down and played to their advantage using their strength and pace to continually put Phoenix under pressure.

Josh and Oscar were sacrificed in favour of Jai and Henry as Phoenix tried to salvage something from the game.

It made little difference as Phoenix still struggled to keep possession and were caught on the break as Sabres got their 6th and made it 2-6.

Full Time – Phoenix Sports Lions 2 Junior Reds Sabres 6

A sobering afternoon for the boys who realise that the league they are in is a different level from the weaker cup sides they have faced recently. The management pulled no punches afterwards and it is clear that it is no good training to play football and then not doing it on the day. They didn’t play like a team with little communication and once again seemed more concerned with who they were facing and the size and speed of the opposition rather than what they can do. It seems most teams in our league will be stronger and more physical so we need to find a way to get over that and compete – without resorting to grow bags and steroids.

11 goals conceded in 2 games and bottom of the league is not a great start – but they have played potentially 2 of the strongest teams in the league.

They will be back in League action this coming weekend – Sunday 26th October - against top of the table Invicta Lions who beat us twice last season so will be another real test for the boys. And they will also have to do it without 2 stalwart defenders in Charlie and Euan who are away so the management team have plenty to ponder ahead of the game.

Come on you Phoenix!

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