Lewisham Borough 1-2 Phoenix Sports Reserves - I never want to see anything like that again ever as long as I'm in the dug-out, says Lewisham Borough boss Justin Fevrier

Friday 21st December 2018
Lewisham Borough 1 – 2 Phoenix Sports
Location Ladywell Arena, Silvermere Road, Catford, London SE6 4QX
Kickoff 21/12/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Friday 21 December 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Ladywell Arena

LEWISHAM BOROUGH manager Justin Fevrier read his side the riot act as complacency crept in to the ranks during their defeat to struggling Phoenix Sports Reserves at Ladywell Arena.

Lewisham Borough would have climbed into the top eight had they won their fourth game on the bounce and striker Kelvin Adeji, who is on dual-registration from Bostik South East Division side Three Bridges, kept his composure to slot in his ninth goal for Lewisham Borough.

Phoenix Sports’ first team manager Paul Byron sent first team 17-goal striker Jeff Duah-Kessie to get minutes under his belt and he clipped the outside of the post following a controversial penalty inside the opening five minutes but he redeemed himself by chipping in a sublime equaliser early in the second half.

Elliot Slee came up from the back to volley in a winner for Phoenix Sports Reserves, who claimed their first league win on their travels at the tenth attempt.

Lewisham Borough remain in tenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with 22 points from 18 games, while Phoenix Sports Reserves remain in the bottom two with 13 points from 17 games.  They are now level on points with the team immediately above them in the table, Kent Football United, while Snodland Town are bottom on 10 points.

“We’ve been on a good run, one of the inform teams in the league and we did not turn up today,” admitted Fevrier.

“I said before the game we cannot take this team lightly. I said it yesterday as well.  Young or not, they want to be hungry, they want to impress and kick on and I just thought they started faster than us. They were first to every ball, they were first to the second balls and I kind of believe that we kind of beat ourselves.

“I just told them now that I’m very disappointed and I never want to see anything like that again ever as long as I’m in the dug-out! I don’t want to see that again! If I get that again they can just f**k off because that was not on, it was very, very bad!”

Fevrier admitted his side were complacent tonight.

“Massively think so! As a management team we’re very grounded and we’re very aware of our position and we’re very aware that the team are very focused and we say the same things, our message is very, very clear. We stay focused, we give 100% and we’re very committed to the cause. Today it just wasn’t there so you could argue it was complacency.”

Phoenix Sports Reserves manager Del Oldfield expressed how he was feeling after claiming their first league success on the road.

“Relief! I don’t mean that lightly either! They’re a good side, they’re very well organised, they’ve got pace and power all over the pitch and they know how to play this pitch a lot better than us.

“But listen, don’t take nothing away from my young lot. They were up for it, they were up for the challenge. We’ve taken the knocks earlier on in the season, we’re really turning things around as a unit, not just one or two of them, every single one of them.

“I’m trying to improve myself as well as a coach, I’m doing my UEFA B at the moment and I think that is helping me massively.

“The heart that they showed out there tonight for me was massive. To go a goal down on a difficult pitch, a difficult team to play against a good side, but we showed a lot of heart out there today.”

Referee John Baigan was caught up in controversy following Duah-Kessie beat three men and was tripped by sixteen-year-old Lewisham Borough keeper Ryan Curran OUTSIDE of the penalty area.

The referee initially awarded a free-kick but asked for clarification from assistant referee Kevin Greenhead and changed his mind by awarding Phoenix Sports Reserves a penalty.

Curran should have been sent-off if a free-kick was awarded but the referee kept his cards in his pocket.

Duah-Kessie stepped up and dragged his right-footed penalty against the outside of the base of the left-hand post, with four minutes an 44 seconds on the clock.

Oldfield said: “Do you know what I was thinking at the time? Bloody first team players! That’s what I was thinking at the time!

“Listen, Jeff’s a quality player. He’s been away for two weeks, which is why he’s playing for us tonight. The first team have got a big game (at home to VCD Athletic) next weekend (Sunday) so it was important that he got minutes.

“I think a lot of people forget that we’re a reserve team playing in a first team league so when we have to do things like this and bring in first team players to give them minutes and get them fit, that’s what we’re there to do.

“Listen, the big man was awesome out there tonight. He could’ve easily gone hiding but his quality shone through with the goal and his work-rate and his effort that can’t always be said when first team players come down and play reserve team football but he was good tonight, very, very good.”

Fevrier said: “I don’t like criticising refs and officials. I thought it wasn’t a great game. Before the game I told the players leave the ref alone. If he makes a decision, accept it and we move on.  If it’s really bad I will talk to the ref but that decision was completely blatantly out of the box and he got that wrong.  Fortunately for us it didn’t go in but first five minutes of the game and they nearly took the lead.”

Lewisham Borough went up the other end and called visiting keeper Martin Grant into making a comfortable low save to his right.

Archie Todd’s corner from the left was cleared out to Josh Owen, who clipped the ball back into the box for striker Michael Daramola, whose right-footed shot on the turn brought the save.

Phoenix Sports’ winger Andrew Dythe floated in his side’s first corner of the night which floated out to centre-half Joe Smith, whose header deflected into Curran’s midriff from 15-yards.

Todd floated in the home side’s fourth and final corner in the 18th minute but centre-half Josue Antonio – who was making his debut following his dual-registration switch from Three Bridges – steered his near post header across the face of goal before it was cleared.

“For a team that our average height is six foot and the other team whose average height is probably not six foot, we certainly should’ve been putting those to bed,” admitted Fevrier.

“We had quite a few headers and we didn’t take our chances and I’m absolutely livid considering how big our team was today compared to theirs and I’m absolutely livid about that but it’s something that we need to work on in training.”

Lewisham Borough took the lead with 26 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

Central midfielder Owen was just inside the Phoenix Sports half when he floated in a cross into the penalty are and Adeji brought the ball down whilst under pressure from the keeper, before showing composure to slot the ball past Grant from 12-yards.

“Probably the only thing he did in the game to be fair, it wasn’t his best game but he’s still chipping away with his tally of nine goals now,” said Fevrier.

“We’re just encouraging him to keep trying to score and improve but his all-round game has got to be better. He can’t just rely on his pace to get in behind.”

Oldfield added: “Listen, that for me is something that we’ve worked on as a team in getting good cover around the person attacking the ball.  I thought our back four was too flat at the time and I told them that at half-time.  We remedied that in the second half by making sure we did have good cover behind the man attacking the ball and it never happened again.

“It takes concentration for 90 minutes and if you switch off for a second against a good side, they’re going to hurt you, it’s as simple as that!”

Bromley Academy hopeful Curran was called into making a comfortable save to his right to prevent Billy Reavill scoring from a shot on the turn from 20-yards after left-back Will Butler played the ball into his feet but Oldfield admitted afterwards that he felt the winger had better options.

“I’ve got to be honest, at the time I was looking at it and I was thinking roll it into Jeff’s feet! That’s what I was thinking.  When he was turning on a sticky pitch, I thought it was a hard shot to take on. I thought he should’ve rolled it into Jeff but he hit the target!”

Lewisham Borough’s left-back Adam Thompson played the ball into Daramola’s feet and space opened up but his right-footed shot from 18-yards was comfortably held by Grant, low to his right.

Fevrier said: “Jason Pinnock has been working a lot with our strikers getting shots off because we tend to score a lot of our goals from inside the six-yard box, whether it be a tap-in or one-on-one. We don’t take shots often.  I think we’ve scored one goal from outside the box this season, which was Dorian Smith’s one at Snodland so we’ll we’ve worked on that in training.”

“Martin’s been good for us all season. He’s an old head. He’s got bundles of experience and a couple of goals in the beginning of the season he spilt a couple that have cost us points,” added Oldfield.

“He’s had offers from Bostik League clubs but he actually rang me up about a month ago and said he’s staying here and he’s got an infinity with these boys now and he wants to finish what we’ve started – and his performances have been superb.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Fevrier said: “I can’t repeat it here but I wasn’t happy! I certainly wasn’t happy.  I definitely got into them. I felt Phoenix Sports were a lot more hungrier than we were. We spoke about it before the game and we said that if we don’t match their enthusiasm we’re not going to get a result and that’s exactly what happened in the first half.

“Although we were 1-0 ahead, I thought they were a lot more enthusiastic and tried to get to the ball a lot quicker than we were. 

“There was a little bit of bickering going on as well, which I weren’t happy about so I had to nip that in the bud and said second half we have to improve otherwise they’re going to come back because they’re only going to get better because they’re going to go in at half-time and get a rev up and come out 10% more.  If we don’t improve our level, they’re going to beat us. We didn’t come out, they improved and they scored and scored again and then we lost.”

Oldfield added: “Keep going! There wasn’t anything magic to say. We just went over very quickly how we conceded the goal and how we’re going to remedy that and make sure that doesn’t happen again.  I just told them to keep going and believe in themselves, be a little bit more positive when the balls going forward, be a little bit more clever in our passing going forward and don’t make it obvious, don’t keep hitting it straight down the middle and get it into good areas and that’s what they’ve done.”

Phoenix Sports came out with all guns blazing at the start of the second half, forcing Curran into making a goal-line save after 82 seconds.

Dythe whipped in a cross from within the left-channel and the ball was knocked down at the far post by Duah-Kessie and Charlie Tagg’s low shot was gathered by the keeper at the very last moment on the goal-line.

Oldfield said: “Should’ve done better with that, he knows that! He’s a good lad, he’s a good honest lad.  Jeff done well, Ollie’s been awesome all season, put in a good ball, Jeff does what Jeff does and all Tagg’s got to do there is finish it!”

Fevrier added:  “He didn’t have his best of games today, he’s far more reliable than what he showed today.

“Ryan came to us six or seven weeks ago, he just wanted to come training with a first team.  Then he actually came to watch one of our games on the bench and see how it is and then we blooded him in against Holmesdale. We lost 6-1 (on 20 October) but he was man-of-the-match for us, he was actually very good and since then he’s just gone from game-to-game, he’s really, really good for his age, he’s so good and by the time he’s 21 he would’ve filled out and be more physical and he can go all the way.

“I couldn’t tell you how many times this season that he’s done a double save or a goal-line goal save. He’s already saved us nine points this season by himself. He’s got three or four clean sheets as well, which is really good. It’s just a shame really because one of their goals was a set-piece and the other one was the lob from Duah-Kessie.”

But Duah-Kessie showed why he is playing his football two levels higher by scoring a sublime equaliser with two minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Oliver Andrews hit a ball over the top of a flat-footed Lewisham back four for Duah-Kessie to run onto and from 15-yards out he used his right-boot to chip the ball over the advancing keeper and watched the ball drop into the centre of an open goal.

Oldfield said: “Again, something that we spoke about at half-time, not as much looking for the player but looking to get it into a good area for the player to run onto and that’s exactly what Oliver done. You get Jeff one-on-one, he’s an animal and he’s a beast and Jeff done what Jeff does and tucked it away nicely.”

Fevrier added: “I’ll be honest with you, we knew he (Duah-Kessie) was playing but we wasn’t worried about it because we’ve got two Bostik centre-haves playing for us. We’ve got Adam Thompson who’s the most experienced centre-half you’ll ever come across at Bostik level at Staines and a Kingstonian and Tooting & Mitcham legend. I made my senior debut in football alongside Adam Thompson for Staines. He’s a top guy and now he’s playing with us. It’s amazing for me.

“Josue Antonio has just come from Merstham so we had no issue them having their first team striker out there – we shouldn’t have!

“To start off with we handled him. In the second half he peeled off onto Josh, who was a little less aggressive towards him and we thought he’d get his joy there and he did so. He was a good striker, he was dangerous all game.”

Lewisham Borough left-back Thompson delivered a free-kick from the right-channel, which keeper Grant came off his line and spilt the ball and Adeji flicked the ball towards goal and the ball was cleared towards safety.

Debutant Darryl Siaw raced down the left wing and floated in a cross towards the far post but Marcus Castano’s free-header looped over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Fevrier admitted: “I don’t think we created as many chances as we normally do. We’re normally more free-flowing. Today, I felt we forced things forward, the final ball was poor and it was very disappointing.”

Phoenix Sports claimed their victory with 23 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock, courtesy of Slee’s first goal of the season.

It came from their seventh corner of the night, floated in from the left by right-back George Oldfield. Keeper Curran failed to gather the ball and Slee smacked his right-footed volley into the net from six-yards.

“Our set-pieces are something that we work on, or have worked on,” explained Oldfield.

“We’ve got a clear pattern of play with our set-pieces and our corners and it’s not really rocket science, I’m not giving nothing away. I just tell them to hit their areas. We number our areas and as long as the ball goes into an area and the boys follow the ball into their area, then that is a result for continually doing the right things at the right time.”

Fevrier added: “We should not be conceding from a set-piece! We are a big team. It looked like the ball was crossed in and it dropped in the middle somewhere and again they reacted first to it.  That was happening all round the park for the whole game.”

George Oldfield put in a free-kick from the right and Smith came up from the back to hit a shot on the turn over the Lewisham Borough crossbar.

Oldfield senior said: “I must say, I know he’s my son, I don’t give him enough praise. His deliveries tonight were superb, apart from the first one or two, getting used to it but I thought after that they were put in exactly the right areas. 

“Joe has been a threat, he’s scored three goals for us this season. It’s just about putting the ball in the right areas and the boys making sure they make the areas that are designated to them.”

Phoenix Sports wasted a glorious chance to wrap up their victory inside the final 10 minutes.

Duah-Kessie rolled the ball out to substitute Macey Malyon out on the right and he centred low for Tagg to place his right-footed volley past the right-hand post from six-yards.

“Listen, Taggy has worked tirelessly, he’s got into that area, he was just a little bit tired so I’m not going to knock him,” added his manager.

Lewisham Borough went close when Todd nipped in front of Harry Wooten and bent his right-footed shot just past the foot of the right-hand post from 25-yards out.

Fevrier said: “Again, that was down to us getting them to shoot more often but we didn’t have the cohesion that we normally have when we’re going forward. We’re a lot more dangerous going forward. For some reason today we looked very flat.”

Thompson sent in a free-kick from the right channel, which Adeji rose with visting keeper Grant to guide towards goal, the keeper grabbing hold of the ball after substitute striker Damarli Morrison tried to poke the ball into the net.

Despite naming five subs tonight, Fevrier only had two substitutes at the ground as Tashan Adeyinka, listed at number 15, wasn’t even in the country.

Fevrier explained:  “The last game we had Tashan Adeyinka up front in the centre for us and he’s in Sweden because his family is in Sweden for the holidays so we’ve lost him for a couple of days.”

Phoenix Sports’ central midfielder Andrews stung the keepers fingers with a 30-yard drive and Tagg flashed his shot just past the foot of the near post from similar distance before the referee brought a feisty second half to a close.

Both clubs are next in action on Saturday 29 December.  Lewisham Borough travel to second-placed Bridon Ropes, while Phoenix Sports Reserves host bottom-four side Meridian VP.

Fevrier said: “As a team we just weren’t at the races today. On our day we can match up Bridon Ropes but on today’s performance a lot of work needs to go in before we turn up there because with that we’ll get absolutely rolled and I’m not turning up to get rolled!  I look forward to it because they’re a good team and they play football. Their pitch is really good as well so we look forward to playing there.”

Oldfield added: “Massive game for us for lots of different reasons now.  We would’ve been happy with a point here tonight. We looked at how they have been doing and the results that they’ve been picking up lately.  We didn’t take them lightly in any way shape or form.  To get three points is an absolute boost for us but now we need to follow that up with a positive result against Meridian.”

Lewisham Borough: Ryan Curran, Sean Agun, Adam Thompson, Owen Price, Marcus Castano, Josue Antonio, Archie Todd, Josh Owen (Noble Rumsey 55), Darryl Siaw, Michael Daramola (Damarli Morrison 67), Kelvin Adeji.
Subs: Tyrelle Thomas, Tashan Adeyinka, Dean Thomas

Goal: Kelvin Adeji 27

Booked: Josue Antonio 39, Josh Owen 55, Owen Price 68, Archie Todd 76

Phoenix Sports Reserves: Martin Grant, George Oldfield, Will Butler (Kameron Mendez 58), Harry Wootten, Joe Smith, Elliot Slee, Billy Reavill (Macey Malyon 75), Oliver Andrews, Jeff Duah-Kessie, Charlie Tagg, Andrew Dythe (Ted Fitzgerald 62).
Sub: Dan Hunwick

Goals: Jeff Duah-Kessie 48, Elliot Slee 69

Booked: Will Butler 56, Charlie Tagg 60, Billy Reavill 72, George Oldfield 90

Attendance: 98
Referee: Mr John Baigan (Peckham, London SE15)
Assistants: Mr Chris Bowdery (Grove Park, London SE12) & Mr Kevin Greenhead (Bexleyheath)