Home league match played on 22 February 2015.
Kicked off at 10:00 AM

After a disappointing result and performance last weekend against Ebbsfleet, the Lions had trained well during the week and were already planning for 11-a-side next season by bringing in a couple of trialists and playing them in a friendly against Long Lane on Saturday, winning 7-4.

However, with neither player eligible to play as they are still registered with other clubs and after Josh Anderson’s decision to leave the club by mutual consent it would be the usual suspects who would need to help the team bounce back and try to get some more points on the board.

Could they carry their friendly form into the league against todays opponents Real Gima? Which side of this Jekyll and Hyde Lions team would turn up this week? We were about to find out….

Kick Off

With Henry and George both unavailable it was a squad of just 10 to choose from. Phoenix lined up with Tom in goal, in front of him a new formation of 1-3-3-1 with Charlie installed as Captain and Sweeper, in front of him Jai, Harry and Euan. Ben would hold the middle with James and Cameron providing support and Jack would take up the lone striker position this week. Oscar would be on the bench waiting to join the action.

The pitch was sticky in the middle from previous weeks of wear and tear plus a lot of rain on Friday night. However, the wide areas looked good and it was Phoenix who adapted better early on.

You could see why Gima were 3rd in the league before start of play having only lost 3 of their 14 games so far. They played a good passing game and looked well organised. The number 7 in particular looked good on the ball and was running at the Phoenix defenders but Tom made a couple of excellent early saves to keep them out.

It was a fairly even game but on 15 mins Phoenix made the breakthrough. A neat ball through the middle found Cameron who was strong enough to hold off the defender and shoot low footed into the left hand corner. 1-0

Shortly afterwards on around 20 mins Jack was played in in similar fashion and again slotted neatly home for 2-0.

Phoenix were buoyant and Gima were changing things to try and find a way back into the game. But it was clear that James and Cameron out wide and Jack all had the beating of their defence if given the opportunity. Ben was winning the battle in midfield and Gima had no answer.

Despite playing some nice football, the new formation with Chaz as sweeper - supported by Euan, Harry and Jai - seemed to give a solid platform as even when Gima found a way past one defender, there was another one backing up to win the ball and clear the danger.

As half time approached, Cameron made it 3-0 and the Lions were in dreamland but knowing the way they have collapsed before, nothing was being taken for granted.

Half Time – Phoenix Sports Lions 3 Real Gima 0

Loathe the change anything, Jason sent the team back out early for the second half under instructions to do exactly the same as they had in the first.

Gima had again made changes but it made little difference as Cameron made it 4-0 and secured his hat-trick.

Oscar then came on for Jai and combined well with Cameron down the right.

By now Gima were open to every Phoenix attack and despite the close attention of the full back - who wanted the shirt off his back – James appeared back on form and was running riot down the left. It was James who made it 5-0 after some good work from Jack to tee him up.

Jack himself then made it 6-0 shortly afterwards after more neat play and he was now on a hat-trick.

James then put Phoenix in dreamland with number 7 and put himself on a hat-trick.

It seemed like a personal battle between James and Jack as to who would get their hat-trick first!

Despite the one sided score line, it still needed a couple of last ditch challenges from Chaz and a couple of great low saves from Tom to keep the Lions clean sheet intact – something that had not happened in the league yet this season and only once in the cup. A clean sheet for the new look defence would be as rewarding as the goals scored.

As the Gima heads went down, Jack seized the opportunity to get his hat-trick and make it 8-0. Unbeknown to the watching parents, his Dad and assistant manager Martyn had promised Jack an Xbox One if he scored a hat-trick. Jack had great delight in running to celebrate in front of his Dad to remind him.

To finish things off, James then made up for a disappointing couple of weeks by his standards by recapturing his form and virtually taking on the Gima defence on his own and smashing in his 3rd and Lions 9th.

Before Phoenix could inflict any more damage or get to double figures, the referee had seen enough and blew his whistle.

Full Time – Phoenix Sports Lions 9 Real Gima 0

A remarkable team performance from the Lions all things considered – a couple of key players missing, last weeks result, the tricky pitch to name a few. But it was one of those weeks when everything clicked into place. Everyone was passing – even those who have a tendency to be selfish on occasions – and some of the finishes were awesome. Gima simply had no answer. Their manager remarked to the Phoenix management team after the game that they had not lost like that since the team was formed as U8’s.

A real confidence booster for the Lions but they need to find a way to perform like that every week as Jason and Martyn pointed out to them in the team talk afterwards.

It is up to the boys now to carry this forward into next week when they are scheduled to play Halls AFC at home and as they welcome back Henry, George and possibly 1 or 2 new signings.

Come on you Lions!

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