Phoenix Sports 1-4 Charlton Athletic - It was just too easy for them, admits Phoenix Sports boss Steve O'Boyle

Wednesday 02nd November 2016
Phoenix Sports 1 – 4 Charlton Athletic
Location Mayplace Ground, Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, Kent DA7 6JT
Kickoff 02/11/2016 19:45

Kent Reliance Senior Cup Second Round
Wednesday 2nd November 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Mayplace Road East

CHARLTON ATHLETIC manager Jason Euell says he wants his side to go all the way in the Kent Reliance Senior Cup this season to give his development players experience of playing men’s football.


The Addicks joined Ryman Premier League side Folkestone Invicta in the Quarter-Finals following their convincing 4-1 win over fifth-placed Ryman League Division One North side Phoenix Sports.

Herne Bay based referee Daniel Bonneywell harshly sent-off Phoenix Sports’ central defender Jack Barry for handball after only 15 minutes and Karlan Ahearne-Grant rifled home the resulting penalty to give Charlton Athletic the lead.

But Phoenix Sports equalised halfway through the first half through winger Christie Pattison’s fifth goal of the season.

Ahearne-Grant, 19, scored his second goal of the night to give Charlton Athletic a 2-1 lead going into half-time.

Phoenix Sports goalkeeper Steve Phillips pulled off a heroic second half performance to keep the scoreline respectable for the part-timers, but he couldn’t prevent Josh Umerah, 18, and substitute Reeco Hackett-Fairchild getting on the scoresheet in a second half totally dominated by the League One club.

Euell, the Addicks under 23 development squad manager, said: “Pleased with it. The plan was to come and get the result. 

“I did ask for a performance but if we didn’t get the performance it was just about getting into the next round, which we did and pleased with the way we did, even though it was against 10 men for a large period of the game.”

Phoenix Sports manager Steve O’Boyle, a Charlton Athletic supporter, was clearly upset with the red-card that killed off his side’s slim chances of pulling off a giant-killing.

“Complete waste of time! Why’s that? Going down to ten men so early, sorry it weren’t a sending off and from that minute on it was a complete waste of time!

“Charlton haven’t got anything out of the game and all we’ve done, they’ve just dominated the whole game really.  It’s the most boring game of football you’re ever going to watch. It was dead and it was a complete waste of time!”

Charlton Athletic created the first of many chances after only 141 seconds when Ahearne-Grant curled his shot around the far post from the left hand side of the penalty area.

Phoenix Sports squandered a glorious chance to take the lead inside seven minutes into their biggest game in their history, which was watched by a crowd of 347.

Ashley Probets whipped in a trademark quality free-kick from the left and Jack Hopkins could have marked his return back into the side following his back injury with a goal, but he steered his diving header wide of the left-hand post from 12-yards.

“Hoppo, he’s got to score that. I said that. I said if he’d score that we’ve won the game,” laughed O’Boyle.

But Phoenix Sports were faced with a mountain to climb when Barry was sent-off for handball inside the six-yard box, blocking a powerful drive from Charlton Athletic central defender Jorge Texiera.

Greenwich born Ahearne-Grant rifled the resulting penalty into the roof of the net to give Charlton Athletic the led with 14 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock.

When asked about the red-card, Euell replied: “I just thought it was handball. I didn’t see it in terms of a deliberate handball.  I didn’t see his arms up in the air or anything like that. It was more in terms, his back was turning and it’s hit his hands so I was surprised that he actually went into a red.

“It’s one of those ones, you want to see everyone playing, 11-v-11 and it did make our task a little bit easier against the ten men. It’s one of those things and it turned into our favour today.”

O’Boyle was clearly angry about the decision. Phoenix Sports came away from East Grinstead Town with a 3-2 win in The Buildbase FA Trophy First Qualifying Round on Saturday, when referee David Hutton awarded the home side two penalties, another handball from Barry and a dive from East Grinstead defender George Benner.

O’Boyle said: “What’s my thoughts on it? I moaned about the referee to you on Saturday, I’m moaning again. It was shocking!

“Everyone in the whole ground, especially all the Charlton supporters down there all said ‘we can’t believe he’s been sent-off!’

“It was a harsh penalty. He’s gone in there to block it. Alright, it’s hit him under the arm pit. We’ve got two men on the line and they’ve sent him off. It’s shocking, absolutely shocking!

“We might as well given them the game and to be fair Charlton probably felt what is the point of this? They’ve got nothing out of the game whatsoever. It was a complete miss-match of a match.”

Reflecting on the penalty, Euell added: “It’s good for Karlan. He hasn’t scored in a couple of games. It could’ve been a number of anyone who could’ve stepped up and take the pen. It’s about the confidence of someone taking that responsibility.”

It should have been two when Regan Charles-Cook played in Ahearne-Grant, but his showboating dink went past the foot of the left-hand post when he only had Steve Phillips to beat.

“It’s one of those opportunities. It’s there and it’s there to be had but at the time of the game you don’t want that chance and the other chances that we’ve missed to come back to bite us. It was fortunate enough that we kept probing and kept getting opportunities and managed to seal the game through.”

When asked about that chance, O’Boyle replied: “Listen, they’ve had so many chances tonight, I can’t even remember them!  I didn’t think their finishing was great to be honest with you. Luckily it wasn’t because it could’ve been silly!”

Phoenix Sports were gifted their equaliser, timed at 21 minutes and 32 seconds.

A bad-back pass from Chris Miller was intercepted by Pattison, who showed great composure to skip past the advancing keeper Jordan Beeney and his shot from a tight angle from the right-hand side of the box sailed into the far corner of an empty goal.

O’Boyle added: “Good goal, good goal yes. I don’t know what else to say. It was a good goal yes.”

When asked about Pattison’s 80th minute withdrawal through injury, O’Boyle added: “He had cramp.  He’s been out for god knows how long and he’s got cramp so what was the point on keeping him on? The game was dead. We need him for Saturday.”

When asked whether he thought a giant-killing act was on the cards after equalising, O’Boyle admitted: “No! Never in a million years. I had more chance of winning the lottery!”

Euell said: “It was disappointing for us because it was from our corner but it’s one of those things.

“Chris is a young boy coming into a group as a first year pro and it’s quite a learning curve for him as well as the others in terms of reading a situation, having pictures when you’re in those sort of situations, so he’ll learn from that and he’ll make a good decision when it comes around again.”

Ahearne-Grant’s 50-yard run through the heart of the pitch saw him play a bad ball out to Charles-Cook, who retrieved the ball, cut inside and hit his left-footed shot sailing over the crossbar from 20-yards.

But Charlton Athletic took the lead with 30 minutes and 29 seconds on the clock.

Anfernee Dijkoteel darted into the penalty area from centre midfield, was tackled, and the ball fell at Mikhail Kennedy’s feet, who played in Ahearne-Grant to stroke his first time drive into the back of the net from 10-yards.

Euell said: “Anfernee is more of a holding midfielder and he has been of late breaking forward and getting into the box and that’s something we’re trying to say to him, we’re not trying to pigeon hole you in that role. We just want you to be there for us and break and get into the box. It’s good that he’s joining in play. It was a good goal and it was a good time to get that goal and turn it around.”

O’Boyle added: “Too easy for them, wasn’t it, playing against ten men.  We were tired. We’ve done a lot of running. What I will say, all I can do is give credit to my players, they never gave up and that’s all I can ask for really.”

Alert thinking from former Rochdale left-back Probets, playing a quickly taken free-kick to release Danny Phillips in space down the left channel to deliver a cross towards the near post, was headed wide by Hopkins, who slotted in at the heart of defence for the rest of the first half following Barry’s red-card.

Charlton Athletic’s left-back Joe Aribo skied his shot over the bar after Umerah’s lay-off, before Aribo reached the by-line and cut the ball back for Steve Phillips to parry at his near post before pouncing on the loose ball before Umerah could.

Ahearne-Grant’s shot on the turn from 25-yards was easily saved by Steve Phillips, who pulled off a couple of great saves to frustrate Umerah and Charles-Cook, although the offside flags were raised on both occasions.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

O’Boyle said: “What did I say to them? Try to keep the score down! Try and be disciplined, try to make it hard for them to put balls through, try to get your two banks of four between the width of the penalty areas. Everything you’re going to try to do to make it hard for them to score goals.”

Euell said: “I just said to them don’t get yourselves involved in a position where we’re going to make it hard work for ourselves.   We knew they were going to come out quickly from the blocks being down to ten men and not playing very well, so we just had to say to the boys to be ready for what they throw at us and we’ve got to be prepared for that to be able to match it and better it.

“I felt we responded well in the second half with a good tempo and it was a case of when that next goal was going to come because we had enough chances to do it but on another day it could’ve gone that way for us more convincingly.”

Charlton Athletic dominated the entire second half.

Umerah played the ball in behind Aaron Sekhon and Probets (who moved from left-back to centre half for the second half) to put Kennedy in on goal but Steve Phillips dived to his left to make the save.

Miller pinged a diagonal pass over to Ahearne-Grant down the left, who cut into the penalty area to cut the ball back for Kennedy to place his shot past the foot of the far post from 12-yards.

Steve Phillips dived low to his left to deny Charles-Cook sweeping his first time shot into the bottom corner, the keeper doing well to hold onto the shot.

Ahearne-Grant was denied his hat-trick in the 56th minute by a brilliant save from Steve Phillips.

The striker stroked his right-footed free-kick over the wall towards the top left-hand corner from 25-yards, but the Phoenix keeper dived high to his right to claw the ball behind for a corner.

Euell said: “Karlan’s done that a few times this season and last season in terms of his technical quality from free-kicks and its’ one of those, on another day the keeper may not get there.”

O’Boyle simply added: “Steve Phillips is a good goalkeeper, yes, he was very good tonight!”

Umerah sped past substitute left-back Ryan Andrews and played the ball over to Miller, who drilled his shot over the top of the right-hand post from 16-yards, before Umerah placed his right-footed shot past the far post from 20-yards.

Charlton Athletic deserved their 3-1 lead when it arrived in the 63rd minute.

Miller cut into the penalty area down the left hand side and cut the ball back for Umerah to pick his spot with a right-footed drive which flashed across the keeper and nestled into the bottom far corner.

“Eventually, yes, he had enough (chances) before he scored and even more after that for him.  I think it’s five or six in a row for Josh now so it’s good that he's got on the scoresheet and keeps scoring goals for us,” said Euell.

O’Boyle added: “Too easy, too easy! The goals they scored tonight were like tap-ins! We just never had players to get back really.  I can’t even talk about the goals really. It was just too easy for them.”

Euell was gobsmacked when Umerah somehow nodded the ball over the crossbar from very close range after meeting Ahearne-Grant’s cross from the left.

He said: “I can’t even say it was from a yard! I think it was probably half a yard out!  Mikhail Kennedy had the same one, it hit his heel. It’s just one of those ones. It probably didn’t bounce for us in the way that it should’ve done but ultimately it’s the way we finished the game and kept getting those chances and fortunately enough we put them through the door.”

Steve Phillips pulled off a brilliant double save to deny Kennedy and then Ahearne-Grant’s follow-up as he kept the scoreline down at the halfway point.

Euell said: “It’s one of those days, you saw Tom Heaton have it the other week against Manchester United for Burnley and Steve was one of those days today when he was busier than what he expected but it shows as a keeper no matter what happens you’ve got to be on your toes and ready for what’s thrown at you.”

The only time that outplayed Phoenix Sports created an opportunity came in the 71st minute but substitute Jason Goodchilld’s speculative shot on the turn from 39-yards sailed over Beeney’s crossbar.

Charlton Athletic finished the game strongly, as Phoenix Sports struggled to cope on their big night.

Charles-Cook played in Ahearne-Grant, but a poor initial touch sent him off course and as Steve Phillips advanced he steered his shot just past the foot of the near post from eight-yards.

Phoenix Sports were reduced to nine-men for the final 10 minutes when they lost Pattison through cramp, making it a farcical ending to the game.

The home side retreated and Charlton Athletic kept the ball and they wrapped up the scoring in the final five minutes when Kennedy fed substitute Hackett-Fairchild, who skipped past the keeper before slotting home.

“We had a lot of counter attacking opportunities and it was a matter of time that it was going to come,” said Euell.

“It’s good for anyone to score a goal but for the sub to come on and to nick one the way that he did going around the keeper. Nice. I think it was a good way to finish off.”

O’Boyle added: “We were playing uphill, we were going up a massive hill.

“The club have been looking forward to this game for a long time. After what happened, it was a complete….I don’t know what to say really. I just feel sorry for the club really because it was the most boring game ever!

“What would you take out of tonight? You want to put on a good show when you get a pro club down here and give them a good game because they might want to come back pre-season. Would you come back? I wouldn’t come back. What’s the point?”

The top five clubs in the Ryman League Division One North table have all collected 31 points.

Maldon & Tiptree lead the table having played 16 games, followed by Brightlingsea Regent (17 games), Bury Town (17 games), Cheshunt (16 games) and Phoenix Sports (18 games).

Phoenix Sports lock horns with Cheshunt here on Saturday.

“Need a win. We need to win on Saturday, no matter what and that is it,” said O’Boyle.

“I’ve told them in there. I wasn’t bothered about tonight’s game. It’s all about Saturday. 

“Tonight, honestly, before the game I rested big players. I want to win on Saturday.

“Cheshunt are quite a physical side, got a very good centre forward in Jason Hallett.  They’re going to be tough, very good.  I would actually put them down as favourites to win the league.  But do you know what, if we turn up and play well, it's going to be a very good game.”

Steve Phillips made his last save of the night at the death to prevent Ahearne-Grant notching his hat-trick, making the save low to his right.

Charlton Athletic were defeated 3-1 by National League South side Dartford in last season’s Kent Reliance Senior Cup Final, before that they beat Gillingham at Priestfield Stadium a year earlier.

Despite O’Boyle’s post-match claims that Charlton Athletic do not get anything out of a game like this, Euell says the opposite.

“They get the exposure of men’s football and that’s why I like playing in this competition, so as much as we play in our development football with boys of similar ages to us, it’s the level that Phoenix Sports are playing at in men’s football and if we can get the exposure and the boys can understand and realise what it is about at this level, the physicality and the technical side of it.

“I said to them from the start you’ve lost one game in two years’ in this competition, I don’t want to lose tonight and I don’t want to lose in this competition this year, so the amount of games that we can have in this competition will benefit them in the long run, playing against men.”

Phoenix Sports: Steve Phillips, Jordan Campbell, Ashley Probets, Russell Bedford (Ryan Andrews 46), Jack Barry, Aaron Sekhon, Dajon Golding (Jason Goodchild 46), Jack Hopkins (Alistair Gordon 70), Ben Hunt, Danny Phillips, Christie Pattison.
Subs: Zak Bryon, Calvin Poku

Goal: Christie Pattison 22

Booked: Aaron Sekhon 15, Danny Phillips 42

Sent off: Jack Barry 15

Charlton Athletic: Jordan Beeney, Aaron Barnes, Joe Aribo, Anfernee Dijkoteel, Jorge Texiera (Louis-Michael Yamfam 66), Dan Bowry, Regan Charles-Cook, Chris Miller (Reeco Hackett-Fairchild 71), Karlan Ahearne-Grant, Mikhail Kennedy, Josh Umerah.
Subs: Archie Edwards, Dimitar Miton, George Lapslie

Goals: Karlan Ahearne-Grant 15 (penalty), 31, Josh Umerah 63, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild 85

Booked: Mikhail Kennedy 19

Attendance: 347
Referee: Mr Daniel Bonneywell (Herne Bay)
Assistants: Mr Christopher Myatt (Dartford) & Mr Samuel Jackson (Gillingham)

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