Phoenix Sports 4-1 Dereham Town - I thought we wanted it more than them, says table-topping Phoenix Sports boss Steve O'Boyle

Tuesday 13th September 2016
Phoenix Sports 4 – 1 Dereham Town
Location Mayplace Ground, Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, Kent DA7 6JT
Kickoff 13/09/2016 19:45

Ryman League Division One North
Tuesday 13th September 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Mayplace Road East

PHOENIX SPORTS’ manager Steve O’Boyle says his side are serious promotion contenders after outclassing dreadful Dereham Town to move four points clear at the top of the Ryman League Division One North table.

The Barnehurst-based club ripped apart 18th-placed Dereham Town to move clear of Bury Town on 19 points from 8 games, although Bury Town have a game in hand.

Their Norfolk based visitors just couldn’t live with Phoenix Sports’ pace on either flank and Dajon Golding scooped the man-of-the-match award for tearing apart Connor Green and if the former Dartford winger continues with this kind of electrifying performance then he won’t be in this division for too long.

Phoenix Sports’ got off to a flying start and took the lead inside the opening 13 minutes through central midfielder Steve Carvell and they had chances to increase their lead further before the interval, but they scored three further goals during the second half.

Calvin Poku, who came off the bench to replace returning striker Ricky Freeman after only 22 minutes, nodded in the second from close range, before right-winger Theo Fairweather-Johnson curled in a lucky third.

Dereham Town pulled a goal back through Thomas Walters’ penalty, before Golding capped off an impressive performance by adding a fourth.

“I thought it was quite an easy three points to be honest with you,” said O’Boyle during the post-match press conference.

“I thought we bossed the game from start to finish, came out quick and I thought we completely dominated the game.”

Phoenix Sports attracted their lowest crowd of the season but the 54 fans that watched on another sultry night were treated to some excellent attacking football from the surprise early pacesetters.

Jason Goodchild fed the ball into Carvell’s feet, and his left-footed drive flashed past the right-hand post, as Phoenix Sports started on the front foot.

Phoenix Sports completed Freeman’s return from AFC Hornchurch at 14:15 this afternoon and he should have opened the scoring inside four minutes.

Carvell swung in the second of the home side’s 11 corners and Lewis Mingle appeared to have scored with a towering header, which was destined to sail into the far corner, but Freeman flicked his shot straight into Will Viner’s grateful gloves from close range.

“I didn’t really see too much, I thought it was in,” said O’Boyle.

“But Mingle’s goalscoring record is horrendous, so I didn’t actually believe he would score so we thought it was in. I sort of turned, I thought we were celebrating and they were running backwards and they were on the attack.”

When asked about Freeman’s injury, O’Boyle revealed: “Ricky’s rolled his ankle. I’m not sure how that’s going to react tomorrow.”

Fairweather-Johnson’s pace took him past Dereham’s left-back Jake Amema and his low cross found its way at Freeman’s feet, but he could only poke his shot past the foot of the near post from a tight angle and from close range.

But the breakthrough finally came, the goal timed at 12 minutes and 59 seconds.

Ashley Probets’ swung in a deep corner from the right which found Golding and he cut the ball back for Carvell to drill his right-footed 25-yard drive into the near corner, via the right hand of the diving keeper, to score his fourth goal for the club.

“He’s got that in his locker to be honest with you,” said O’Boyle.

“He’s an excellent striker of the ball, he’s scored some good goals for us already since he’s been down here and that was another great strike, another well taken goal, a good goal. He’s a good player, a very good player.”

Carvell delivered the home side’s fourth corner of the night and Mingle cracked a shot on the turn which sailed over Viner’s crossbar.

But Dereham Town almost grabbed an undeserved equaliser when in the 19th minute, right-back Connor Green hit a deflected drive from 30-yards, which left keeper Steve Phillips flat-footed, but the ball pinged against the right-hand post.

“One of them, they caught us on the break a little bit and I think that’s when I had a little bit of a moan up that we’ve got to tighten up at the back a little bit,” added O’Boyle.

“They maybe had a little five minute spell in the first half where we maybe switched off.  It’s something that we can’t afford to do.”

Rhys Logan then fed striker Ryan Crisp, who cut in from the right and drilled his left-footed shot just past the foot of the near post, before Phoenix Sports swiftly ended Dereham’s little spell.

Fairweather-Johnson sped down the right wing from the half-way line to the by-line and Carvell’s first time flicked shot was comfortably saved by the busy Viner.

Golding cut in from the left before drilling his right-footed shot over the crossbar and into the trees, while Fairweather-Johnson’s angled drive flashed across the keeper but towards the corner flag than the bottom far corner of the goal.

Right-back Reion McFarlane released Fairweather-Johnson down the right and he slipped the ball through to substitute striker Poku, who cut into the box and Viner did well to pluck the ball out of the air at his near post.

Phoenix should have scored from their sixth corner of the night on the stroke of half-time.

Probets’ swung in a left-footed corner from the right and Jack Barry came up from the back to plant his towering header which sailed across goal and agonisingly past the far post.

Phoenix Sports went in at the break with a one-goal lead but it should have been a lot more!

“One hundred percent we should’ve been,” agreed O’Boyle.

“I said that at half-time, the one thing we haven’t done is finish the game off.  I said when you’re on top you’ve got to finish games off and it’s exactly the same last week at Romford. We should’ve been 4-0 up in the first 25 minutes and we ended up with a 1-1 draw.

“The last pass wasn’t the right pass but I can’t fault them.  I thought we worked harder than them, I thought we wanted it more than them. We played some really good football and sometimes it was just like the last pass wasn’t the right pass - but the goals came in the second half.”

Phillips was called into action to prevent an early second half equaliser as David Radomski’s drive took a deflection and the Phoenix Sports keeper dived low to his right and did well to grab hold of the ball.

“Listen, we were 1-0 up and they were going to have a little bit of a go. I thought we was completely comfortable. It wasn’t until we got to 3-1 that I thought we were taking our foot of the pedal,” said the Phoenix manager.

Golding destroyed Green down the left and he cut into the box and his rasping drive brought a fine diving save from Viner.

It was no surprise when Phoenix Sports doubled their lead with three minutes and 55 seconds into the second half.

Probets’ swung in their seventh corner of the game towards the far post where Fairweather-Johnson looked destined to score with a header, only for Poku to nip in and nod the ball over the line from close range.

“The last thing I said to the players before we came out, I said I thought we can get joy from set-plays,” said O’Boyle.

“I thought they were really weak to be honest with you and I thought we can dominate set-plays and was expecting us to maybe score a goal from a set-play, which we did, which was good.”

Phoenix Sports raced into a 3-0 lead only 124 seconds later.

Fairweather-Johnson was in space down the right channel and he curled in a cross from 20-yards, which went around Viner to caress the netting inside the far corner, only to be subbed by O’Boyle to rest his knee.

“I think it was probably one of those ones, that you’re aiming between the sticks but it was more of a cross but they end up in the back of the net.  You say it’s a good goal. I was really pleased because I wanted to rest him up for Saturday.”

Fairweather-Johnson was icing up his knee when he came off and O’Boyle revealed: “He’s been carrying it (the injury) for a couple of weeks now. I just haven’t had the opportunity to rest him up. Hopefully, I might have one or two (new players) coming in and if I do it might be a chance to give him a little rest.  He’s been playing on it a little bit too much, we just have to look after it a little bit.”

Reflecting on Fairweather-Johnson and Golding’s pace tonight, O’Boyle added: “It’s quite pleasing to see them taking people on with pace and I thought they both had good games tonight.”

Dereham Town right-back Green will have nightmares over his poor defensive performance tonight as Golding tore him to shreds with his pace and quality.

Golding sped down the left and cut into the box and Viner advanced to make a fine finger-tip save, the ball rolling agonisingly past the foot of the far post

Golding then ignored a couple of his team-mates inside the penalty area and went for glory himself, clipping the crossbar when he left a couple of Dereham defenders begging for mercy.

“Dajon should have made it 4-0! He’s had a run there, he’s got two boys in the middle, he’s got to square it. He’s shot and that’s game over (if we score!).

“I’ve just had a go at him about that. I said if you’d score it, happy days, but when you don’t score if you’ve got two boys in the middle, that’s not on! That should’ve been 4-0 and if it did go 4-0 we’d maybe have won by five or six!”

Dereham Town called Phillips into making a save to deny Crisp, after he was played in by a ball straight down the middle of the pitch, on the hour-mark.

Phoenix Sports squandered yet another chance when substitute Jordan Campbell whipped in a great cross from the right channel only for the unmarked Poku to plant his free header past the right-hand post.

Dereham Town pulled a goal back through Walters penalty in the 66th minute, driving his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner after McFarlane had fouled substitute left-winger Craig Bussens in the corner of the box.

O’Boyle said: “I wasn’t happy about that! It was one of them. I just said a little bit of what we’ve got to do when you’re on top of the game and winning 3-0 you’ve got to carry on doing the same things.

“I wasn’t happy with the penalty. There was no need for it and it gave them a little bit of a glimmer of hope.”

Dereham Town then enjoyed their best spell of the game. Green, who was better at crossing than defending, put in a great cross but an unmarked Logan smacked his acrobatic overhead kick high over the crossbar.

But Phoenix Sports swiftly snuffed out any unlikely fightback as Phoenix Sports added a fourth on the counter-attack with 76 minutes on the clock.

Goodchild played the ball into Golding’s feet, still inside the Phoenix half of the pitch, and he raced up the pitch to lash his right-footed drive into the roof of the net.

“To be honest with you, I thought he gave their full-back a torrid time tonight. I don’t think he actually tacked him the whole game,” said O’Boyle.

“That’s his best game he’s played for us and that’s his benchmark now. He’s got to continue like that. It was a good game for him. I’m pleased he’s scored a goal and it tops off a fine performance.”

Green put in another cross into the Phoenix box, Phillips palmed the ball away to Bussens at the far post, who hooked the ball past the near post.

And Amema floated in a cross from the left but Crisp glanced his header across Phillips and past the far post.

Phoenix Sports host tenth-placed AFC Hornchurch here on Saturday and O’Boyle is delighted with his side’s start.

“We’re top and it’s a good start for us, let’s hope it continues,” he said.

“I think we’ve got a good squad, got some good players and like I said last year I had a good look at the league, we wasn’t that bad a side last year, we just maybe lacked a little bit and I think we’ve got that this year.”

When asked what he’s added to his fourteenth-placed finishers, O’Boyle replied: “Brought men in, characters, leaders, good players and maybe a bit more quality in the final third and I’m really pleased how it’s going.

“My thoughts are lets’ turn up with the right attitude like we did again tonight and if we play well, I fancy us.  If we don’t play well they can beat us, but I’d like to turn up with a good attitude, play well and let’s see where we are after the game on Saturday.”

O’Boyle paused for nine seconds to answer the big question.  Are you serious title contenders, play-off contenders this season?

“Yes, I think we can! I’m not here to make the numbers up you know.   I think we’ve got a good side and let’s see how it goes. It’s a long season, we’ve had a good start, let’s see how it goes.”

Phoenix Sports: Steve Phillips, Reion McFarlane, Ashley Probets, Jason Goodchild, Jack Barry, Lewis Mingle, Jack Hopkins, Steve Carvell (Russell Bedford 78), Ricky Freeman (Calvin Poku 22), Theo Fairweather-Johnson (Jordan Campbell 52), Dajon Golding.
Subs: Aaron Sekhon, Zac Bryon

Goals: Steve Carvell 13, Calvin Poku 49, Theo Fairweather-Johnson 52, Dajon Golding 76

Dereham Town: Will Viner, Connor Green, James Amema, Thomas Walters, Dion Frary, Robbie Linford, Rhys Logan, David Radomski (Craig Bussens 61), Ryan Crisp, Daniel Beaumont, Harley Black (Matthew Cook 61).
Sub: Adam Smith

Goal: Thomas Walters 66 (penalty)

Attendance: 54
Referee: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Joe Stokes (Dover) & Mr Kane Dempster (Hythe)

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