Dulwich Hamlet 1-2 Phoenix Sports - Phoenix are a team on the up, as a club not just this team, says joint-manager Glen Gibbard

Monday 05th September 2016
Dulwich Hamlet 1 – 2 Phoenix Sports
Location Champion Hill Stadium, Dog Kennel Hill, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, London SE22 8BD
Kickoff 05/09/2016 19:00

The FA Youth Cup Preliminary Round
Monday 5th September 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium

PHOENIX SPORTS’ joint-manager Glen Gibbard says it means an awful lot to pull off a FA Youth Cup giantkilling act to send Dulwich Hamlet crashing out at the first hurdle.

At first team level, Dulwich Hamlet are currently sitting in 11th place in the Ryman Premier League table with 8 points from their opening six games, while Phoenix Sports proudly sit at the top of the Ryman League Division One North table on 12 points from their first five league outings.

But Dulwich Hamlet are renowned for producing talented youngsters via Gavin Rose’s ASPIRE Academy and getting through the qualifying rounds - but they came up short against their Barnehurst-based visitors.

Phoenix Sports stunned the home fans in the crowd of 118 at Champion Hill by taking the lead from a fifth minute penalty from striker Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba, but Dulwich Hamlet equalised through a header from Tyreece Spinks, 16.

Phoenix Sports claimed victory with the last kick of the first half through a brilliant free-kick from Rio Conner-Baker and they defended for their lives during the second half to hang on to a shock victory to seal a trip to Ryman Premier League club Tonbridge Angels in two weeks’ time.

“It was a very good game. I think we nicked it with our presence up front with our strong boys up top,” said Gibbard during the post-match press conference.

“Our keeper played extremely well. He was voted man-of-the-match by our board who were here today.

“Dulwich Hamlet are a very good side, a very quick side, they work very well of the ball and we had to be aware of that. It wasn’t about turning up and playing, we knew they would be a very strong side, a very confident side and they pressed us all round the pitch and made it very hard for us to win the game today.

“Phoenix are a team on the up as a club, not just this team but as a club we’re on the up with what’s going on behind the scenes, what’s going on at the club with the board of directors. They’re working very hard to make sure the boys are doing it properly, us as managers have to do it properly as well.”

Dulwich Hamlet’s manager for the night was Junior Kadi and he admitted his young guns froze on the night.

“First of all, congratulations to Phoenix. They done well, they was very resolute, took their chances. They had a couple of lively players up front.

“It is (a shock). We do try to target the First Round proper every season but what you’ve got to look at its kids’ football. They’re developing, so every year you get a different group and for us to be honest this competition is for the players. For us (Gavin Rose and I) it doesn’t change what we’re trying to do, trying to develop players who can maybe get into senior clubs.

“As I say you’re never going to win The FA Youth Cup. It’s their (our players’) competition and tonight they just fell a bit short.”

Phoenix Sports got off to the best possible start, taking the lead with four minutes and 34 seconds on the clock from the penalty spot.

Referee Peter Georgiou, who stayed around 30 yards behind play, pointed to the penalty spot after Dulwich Hamlet right-back Ayo Harty-Clarke fouled the impressive Alfie Cue.

Amgbaduba stepped up and drilled his right-footed penalty underneath the diving keeper Ottis Aarts.

“It helped us, it did help us with Alfie’s trickery on the ball. We knew we could get the ball to him he will upset a lot of defenders. He drifts in and out of games but he is a livewire and one to watch coming through the ranks at Phoenix. It was a very good penalty and he was calm,” said Gibbard before being mobbed by his jubilant players as they walked down the tunnel where the interviews were taking place.

Kadi added: “Ayo, this is probably his first game under lights, probably his first game in the stadium. He was nervous like a few of the boys during the game. He made a rash decision, he knows it and to be fair I thought he got better as the game went on.  It’s just a mistake, he’s a young player, hopefully he’ll learn from it.”

It should have been two when Phoenix right-back William Reayill floated in a free-kick into the penalty area and Cue steered his free header past the near post.

Gibbard said: “It was a great header. We actually thought it was in, we was off our seats but I think it was just wide! We worked on it and we kept pressing around the pitch, trying to give them not a lot of time on the ball and we worked hard.”

Kadi added: “We’ll have to try to defend that a little bit better in that situation but you don’t want to give them free headers. It’s part of their development as well. The thing about non-league football is you will have to compete at set-pieces in the box and be big and strong and have the determination to win the first ball and try to win the second one.”

Cue impressed down the left and he did well to beat two Dulwich Hamlet defenders to reach the by-line before getting his foot wrapped around the ball to whip in a low cross which Amgbaduba couldn’t poke past Aarts at the near post.

Dulwich Hamlet created their first opening in the 15th minute when right-winger Cristian Bucin did a couple of step-overs before putting over a cross where Adrian Brown rose to glance his header just over the crossbar from eight-yards.

Dulwich Hamlet were now getting in to their stride and Mohamed Mohamed fed Bucin, who cut inside and curled a left-footed shot from 20-yards towards the bottom far corner, which was saved low down by George Gibbard.

Phoenix’s winger Tom Scott put in a cross from the right, which was flicked on by Amgbaduba, whist under pressure, but central midfielder Charles Kentish failed to keep his shot down with a hooked volley from six-yards.

Dulwich Hamlet restored parity, with the clock showing 21:09.

Left-back Axel Garcia produced a quality cross into the penalty area where Spinks popped out of Luke Gresnahan’s pocket to guide his free header past a flat-footed keeper into the top left-hand corner from 10-yards.

Kadi said: “Ty is only a young lad, he’s sixteen, he’s a good finisher. He’s got a lot of pace, he’s strong, a good player. We’ve got high hopes for him, hopefully he'll develop, so that was a nice finish from him.”

Gibbard added: “We got caught napping didn’t we? They got goal side of us, very well played.  They switched it in, they done very well, not a lot the keeper can do apart from stand and watch it hit the back of the net.”

Mohamed drove forward through the heart of the pitch and was tackled by the excellent Harry Smith, the ball slipped through to Spinks, who was denied by Gibbard, who rushed off his line to smother the ball at the striker’s feet.

Phoenix Sports then tried their luck from the edge of the penalty area but Scott’s right-footed angled drive flashed past the foot of the near post.

Spinks played a lovely through ball in behind for Bucin, but he drilled his first time shot over the bar from 18-yards – and Garcia’s 30-yard left-footed drive dipped just over the Phoenix Sports’ crossbar.

Phoenix Sports keeper Gibbard pulled off a vital save to deny Dulwich Hamlet taking the lead in the 40th minute.

Kentish’s square pass was intended for Smith, but the ball was intercepted by Bucin inside the Phoenix half and he played in Spinks but Gibbard advanced to make a smart low save with his right thigh.

Gibbard, the manager, said: “He works very well, he done well tonight. He was voted man-of-the-match by our board of directors, who were here.   He’s been under a bit of pressure to keep the number one jersey and he’s done it and he’s done very well.

“He’s not the tallest of keepers but he’s the cat as we call him as a joke.”

Kadi added: “We work on that. Young Cristian comes in off the right-hand side, he’s a good player. He rolled Tyreece in and on another day he will score that one but you’ve got to give credit to the goalkeeper, he’s made himself big and made a good save.

“From when we did score our goal, I thought we started to play a little bit better.  The boys started to play to their potential a little bit.”

The impressive Cue hit a speculative drive from 35-yards, which Aarts watched flash past the foot of his near post, before Phoenix Sports won the game with 45:59 on the clock.

Cue was fouled by Kiki Oshilaja, who partnered Alton Leeward at the heart of the Hamlet defence.

It proved to be a costly mistake as Conner-Baker stroked his right-footed free-kick from 25-yards over the wall and the ball flew into the right-corner, despite the keeper diving the same way.

Dulwich Hamlet only had time to kick-off and the referee blew his half-time whistle.

Gibbard revealed the match-winner is pushing for a place in their reserve side.

“We know he’s got that in his locker. He’s a handful for any team to try to hold. A few of the boys will be pushing for the reserves, they’re young, they’re under 18s, they’ll be pushing to get into the reserve side so this is what we’re about. This is what the club wants to do to press our boys through to the reserves and hopefully in the first team.”

Kadi added: “I thought he was a very good player. He looked very good technically, good, strong. He looks to have a bright future.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Kadi revealed he could feel nerves as his players put in a collectively disappointing performance on their big night, which is very like Dulwich Hamlet’s FA Youth Cup teams.

He said: “It’s like anything, they’re nervous, they’re playing in their first game in front of a crowd, first game under the lights and you could see there was nervous tension.”

Gibbard revealed he felt “composed”.

“We went in we didn’t really say a lot to them to start off with. We let them get their thoughts together, just sat back and we made a change.  Charlie Kentish went off and Tom Mills went on because Charlie looked like he was blowing a bit, which is unusual for him because he’s normally all over the park.

“Tom came on and made a very good presence in there and done a very good job on what we asked him to do.

“We just said to them, just keep doing what you’re doing, that’s all we asked them to do!”

You got the feeling that it was not going to be Dulwich Hamlet’s night, as they failed to take their chances.

Bucin unleashed a left-footed drive towards the roof of the net from 25-yards, which was brilliantly pushed over the bar by seventeen-year-old keeper’s outstretched right-hand after 50 minutes.

Kadi said: “Cristian Bucin’s a young lad. He’s come in, very technical player, a good player. I thought tonight, again, he was nervous, a little bit worried. He wasn’t his normal self but he’s got good technical ability. He does that a lot, he’s a good player.”

Gibbard added: “It’s a bit hard for me to keep talking about George being his dad but he’s a great lad, he works hard, he’s been under a bit of pressure during the game but he’s pulled one out of the bag tonight, he’s done well for us.”

Phoenix Sports’ first-team manager Steve O’Boyle should definitely call up Cue into his first team squad, the winger impressing here tonight.

He cut inside and drove a left-footed shot from 30-yards, which flashed past the post.

Dulwich Hamlet were denied an equaliser in the 65th minute by another save from the managers son.

Bucin swept the ball from right to left to Kelvin Adeji, who cut the ball back to Henry Histon, the central midfielder hitting a first time low drive which was saved by Gibbard at his near post.

Harty-Clarke, who was keen to atone for his earlier mistake, unleashed a powerful angled drive from 35-yards, but nothing was going to get past Gibbard in the second half.

Phoenix Sports visibly tired during the final 15 minutes and their defending became more desperate, hitting the ball up the pitch, only for Dulwich Hamlet to return it with added pace and interest.

Gibbard admitted: “They were at us. They weren’t giving up. They didn’t want to go out of this trophy and I can’t blame them! They played well. We had some goal-line clearances. We defended well. I thought we attacked well but we left ourselves a little bit open in the middle of the park but we done what we had to do.”

“I think you’ve got to give Phoenix a lot of credit,” added Kadi.

“They defended resolutely, they worked hard and they defended their lead and fair play to them. I don’t think we had many clear cut chances. I thought territorially we had the best of the game but their guys defended for their lives and fair play to them and good luck to them in the next round.”

Teatron Wilson sped down the left channel and cut the ball back to fellow substitute Mohamed Kamara, but a resilient Phoenix defence kept the ball out.

Kadi said: “Young Mo as well, he’s another sixteen-year-old. He’s just come in, he’s a good, young forward. If he can get a little bit more fitter he can be a good asset for us.”

Another Dulwich Hamlet sub, right-winger Lekan Osideko delivered a cross and Spinks’ shot on the turn flashed wide.

And Phoenix Sports celebrated a famous victory when Wilson looped his shot past the near post after a sweeping move involving Histon and Mohamed.

When asked what today means to him, his players and to the club, Gibbard replied: “Well, it means an awful lot. I’m from this area originally (Camberwell), born at Kings’. It means a lot.  It’s about Phoenix as a small club against Dulwich Hamlet a big club. We’ve done our bit and hopefully they’re very proud down at Phoenix.”

But Gibbard says he’s very much concentrating on the opening day of the league campaign before tackling Jay Stubberfield’s Tonbridge Angels’ side at Longmead Stadium.

“I don’t know too much about Tonbridge Angels. I’m sure I will do by the time it’s here,” he said.

“We go again. We’ve got our first league game on Sunday, we’ve got Greenwich Borough on Sunday, we’ll focus on that game.”

Rose and Kadi continue to develop young talent off the conveyor belt but Kadi admitted his players did not perform to their maximum tonight.

Kadi said: “Our job is to develop them and try to get boys playing in non-league football. Boys playing in our first team. I don’t want to keep going over the point but we’re not going to win The FA Youth Cup and for them it’s a bit of a blow but it’s how they come back from it.”

When asked how many players in this squad are going to make it, Kadi replied: “After tonight’s showing, probably not but to be fair there’s four or five in there that we know are a lot better than that. They’re a lot better than they showed tonight and they know themselves but it’s a learning curve. They’re young men so you get ups and downs and it’s how they bounce back from that.”

Dulwich Hamlet’s FA Youth Cup ties attract a number of scouts, but Phoenix Sports’ Cue and Conner-Baker got the plaudits tonight.

Dulwich Hamlet: Ottis Aarts, Ayo Harty-Clarke, Axel Garcia, Henry Histon, Kiki Oshilaja, Alton Leeward, Cristian Bucin (Teatron Wilson 67), Mohamed Mohamed, Tyreece Spinks, Kelvin Adeji (Mohamed Kamara 78), Adrian Brown (Lekan Osideko 54).
Subs: Kevin Osei, Carlos Cuartas Roman

Goal: Tyreece Spinks 22

Booked: Kiki Oshilaja 45, Adrian Brown 51

Phoenix Sports: George Gibbard, William Reayill, Harvey Mead, Charles Kentish (Thomas Mills 46), Luke Gresnahan, Harry Smith, Alfie Cue, Harry Barham, Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba (George Poskins 79), Rio Conner-Baker, Tom Scott (Abdulbasit Alaiza 86).
Subs: Jamie Davis, John Walpole

Goals: Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba 5 (penalty), Rio Conner-Baker 45

Booked: Tom Scott 17, Thomas Mills 54, Rio Conner-Baker 62, William Reayill 74

Attendance: 118
Referee: Mr Peter Georgiou (Tooting, London SW17)
Assistants: Mr Robert Redman (Streatham, London SW16) & Mr Mohammad Dilawari (Battersea, London SW11)

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