Phoenix Sports 3-3 Deal Town (7-8pens) It's a chance to get our name on the map, says Darren Anslow

Wednesday 20th August 2014

(after extra time – Deal Town win 8-7 on penalties)
The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Wednesday 20th August 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Mayplace Road East

DEAL TOWN manager Darren Anslow hailed his side’s belief after winning an epic FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round replay at Phoenix Sports after holding their nerve during a dramatic 20 kick sudden death penalty shoot-out.

The Kent coast side will host Combined Counties League Division One side Chessington & Hook United in the Preliminary Round on 30 August after prevailing 8-7 on penalties after edging 210 minutes of football between the two Southern Counties East Football League clubs.

Phoenix Sports’ played their first FA Cup tie in their 79-year history on Saturday and came away from Deal with a second bite of the cherry following a 2-2 draw.

And their first FA Cup tie on home soil will live in the memories of the 171 fans who attended this thrilling battle.

Phoenix Sports dominated the first 45 minutes and took an early lead through Carl Cornell – but joint-managers Steve O’Boyle and Tony Beckingham will rue their side’s missed chances that could have had the game dead and buried by half-time.

But they let Deal Town back into the game and Anslow’s side levelled through Yacine Gnohore’s glancing header just before the hour mark.

That sparked Deal Town’s recovery and they dominated the second half but Louis Valencia drilled home a shot against the run of play to give the home side the lead ten minutes before the end of normal time.

But Deal Town grabbed a dramatic last-gasp leveller through Jamie Blunden’s looping header to deservedly force extra-time.

Gnohore, who started up front before slotting into midfield, converted the first penalty on the night to give Deal Town the lead in the first period of extra-time, but Ricky Freeman bundled home an equaliser nine minutes from the end to take it to penalties.

“It’s a long night, but a good night,” said Anslow.

“We were probably the only people that believed we could do it, probably the 18-19 people in the changing room I had, who really fancied us.

“I think we were maybe written off a little bit early doors because of a couple of results because of players unavailable etc.

“People who watched the game (will see) we’re not that bad. We can play a little bit.”

Phoenix Sports’ joint-manager, Beckingham added: “Overall it was not good enough, the game should have been won in the first 30 minutes and then we just fell apart in the second half.

“You’re never going to win the FA Cup but it’s really nice to stay in for as long as possible plus of course the money is invaluable to all clubs at this level.

“If I’m honest, the people that I actually feel sorry for are the club people who were looking forward to us competing for the first time in this competition. We have let them all down badly and I can only apologise for the performances over two games.
“I would like to congratulate Darren and his team though. I know it’s been a testing time for him but his players did him proud and never ever did they think they were beaten even after going behind on three separate occasions. 
“Good luck to Deal Town in the next round.”

It seemed a long time ago when Phoenix Sports’ scored the first goal of the night after only 155 seconds.

Talented winger Enoch Adjei was released down the left and he cut inside Deal Town’s right-back Ricky North to reach the by-line before cutting the ball back for Cornell to sweep a first time left-footed shot into the bottom near corner of the net from eight-yards.

Beckingham said he was pleased with his side’s start to the game.

“Exactly what we’d spoken about before the game and it gave us the best possible platform to go on and win the game.”

“Disappointing,” was how Anslow saw the first goal.

“We had a young lad at right-back. Ricky’s only eighteen years old. Enoch’s only young as well and I think it’s a case of not realising once Enoch takes a knock past you, you’re always in trouble so it’s a case of getting to him quickly and keeping him facing away from goal.

“We spoke to Ricky and we nullified him (Adjei) a little bit and it made a difference and we sort of came into the game a little bit more.”

Phoenix Sports were clearly on the front foot during a one-sided first half, but they missed some excellent chances to kill the game off before the break.

Cornell laid the ball to Freeman, who flashed his right-footed angled drive just past the near post, before the threatening Adjei cut in from the left again and stroked his right-footed shot towards the far corner, which forced goalkeeper Jack Rankin to dive to his left to push towards safety.

Outplayed Deal Town’s first opening, meanwhile, arrived in the 19th minute.

Gnohore launched a long throw towards the near post where Blunden came up from the back to glance his header straight into Rob French’s gloves for a comfortable save.

But Phoenix Sports will forever rue an excellent chance to double their lead just 32 seconds later.

Chris Hill floated a deep cross towards the far post which sailed over Deal’s two central defenders and Cornell sent his free header straight at Rankin from six-yards.

“I thought we had several good chances to add to our tally, Hooley’s header being just one,” said Beckingham.

“All the time it’s only 1-0, then the other team are always in the game and that’s how it panned out.”

Anslow added: “A bit like Saturday. Listen, I’ve learnt after quite a few years’ now in football that I’ve calmed down a lot and teams are always going to get chances against you.  It’s putting them away at the end of the day that counts and puts you into the next round.”

Jake McIntyre’s free-kick was cleared out to Hill, who clipped the ball back into the box and Freeman’s glancing header from eight-yards sailed straight into Rankin’s gloves.

Freeman swung in a corner from the left and midfielder Sean Rowson glanced his header across goal and past the far post.

Gnohore fed skipper Andy Miller and the space opened up in front of him but the Deal midfielder drilled his right-footed shot harmlessly wide from 30-yards.

But Phoenix Sports missed another excellent chance to increase their lead in the 32nd minute.

Adjei twisted and turned his marker down the left before whipping in a cross towards the far post which was headed down by Valencia and Freeman stabbed the ball agonisingly past the foot of the near post.

But Deal Town began to edge forward towards the end of the first half.

Another long throw from Gnohore came out to Gio Fullone who stroked a right-footed drive towards goal from 20-yards, which forced on-loan keeper French into making a comfortable save low to his left.

An attack from the visitors’ broke down on the edge of the Phoenix box and the home side broke through Adjei, who released Freeman, who cut inside before dragging his right-footed shot past the near post.

Fullone whipped in a corner from the left and Ricky Tompkins came up from the back to guide his header across goal and past the far post.

But Phoenix Sports deserved their lead at the break.

“What was said really was there was a genuine belief in the changing room that we would win the game,” said Anslow.

“We made a tactical change which was to drop Yacine back in midfield and bring Warren Smith up front and I think all of a sudden we got hold of the midfield.

“I think they’re a very good side. I thought we dominated the second half, that’s my opinion.

“I thought we were stronger and dangerous on the break. I thought we were pacy. We limited them to a couple of snap shots and a couple of balls into the box second half.”

When asked what he said to his troops during the half-time break, Beckingham said: “Basically said that we needed to show a bit more composure in front of goal and start taking some of the chances that were coming our way, basically go out and actually get the game won.
“I’m not going to lie I thought we were absolutely abysmal in the second half and looked like a pub team.  Our players’ just did not seem capable of doing the basics.”

Anslow, a full-time coach at Cray Wanderers’ Academy, tinkered with his line-up by bringing on a couple of substitutes and Gnohore moved back to protect the back four.

This inspired Deal to perform much better and the pendulum swung towards the side in black and white hooped shirts.

A penetrating run from Miller resulted in substitute Warren Smith drilling a right-footed shot around the far post from 25-yards, before Deal Town grabbed an equaliser in the 59th minute.

They were awarded a free-kick down the left some 40-yards from goal and Fullone whipped in a quality free-kick with his right-foot which was met by Gnohore’s glancing header from within a crowded penalty area, the ball sailing into the far corner.

Anslow said: “Listen, Gio has got that in his locker.  I had him in the Academy and reserves at Cray. As soon as I got here I got him.

“If I got that boy 100% fit he can play at a higher level. His delivery in his passing is quality. He just needs to take a bit more care in his fitness.  He’s a decent player. Then again he’s very experienced but still he’s only 21. He’s been in the Kent League and Ryman League for the last three or four years.

“Yacine is a decent player. He was at Cambridge United and Dulwich Hamlet, when they won the Ryman South.” 

Beckingham added: “We gave the ball away needlessly again in the middle of the park, they broke and we gave away another cheap free kick.

“It was a good delivery by the Deal player but I can’t understand how any player can get a free header in our box!”

The striker’s third goal of the season killed the game off as an attacking threat, but you sensed Anslow’s side were still in it.

Fullone went close from 22-yards, his shot taking a deflection which dropped narrowly wide of the left-hand post, before Phoenix Sports grabbed the lead against the run of play with ten minutes of normal time left.

Former Hollands & Blair winger Valencia picked the ball up and drilled an excellent left-footed shot high over Rankin’s right shoulder into the roof of the net to score from 20-yards.

Beckingham said: “It was a great goal by Louis.  He’s a very good player and I’m hoping that that’s the first of many to be honest.

“At that point I thought that might just be enough to actually win the game.”

Anslow said: “Disappointed because we’ve been in the lead at home as well in a similar situation and actually conceded a very similar goal.

“You’re hoping your players clear their lines. In fairness it’s a great strike, you can’t knock the strike at goal but you’d just like to think we’d get a little bit tighter, especially with a couple of minutes to go.”

Rankin made a comfortable save to thwart Phoenix left-back McIntyre scoring with a low angled drive after roaming forward.

If you’re going to score a last-gasp equaliser to force extra-time, doing it with 44:48 on the clock is the perfect timing.

Deal Town substitute Jai Nuttall whipped in a cross from the left which Gnohore looped his header high into the air from the edge of the box and the ball dropped to Blunden who sent his looping header over French and down into the bottom left-hand corner.

Anslow said: “There’s good character in this side and they showed their character through the second half and through extra time to be fair.

“I thought Jamie was immense tonight. He was my man-of-the-match tonight.

“He didn’t lose a header, another one, 21 years old. What can I say about him tonight?

“I don’t think he lost the ball or a header. He was always dangerous going forward, he’s got good ability and he deserved it.

“I think we deserved it. I think as a team we deserved that goal.”

Beckingham added: “We’ve lost the ball again trying to be clever and run the ball out of defence instead of doing the professional thing and just putting in the corner and run down the clock.

“They did what they’d done over the two games and put a ball in our box which we obviously didn’t defend properly again and the fella’s nodded it in.

“Unbelievable really but if you can’t defend set pieces in this league then you’re going to conceded lots of goals, we need to get that sorted and quick!”

That equaliser knocked the stuffing out of Phoenix Sports and Deal Town looked the more likely side to win it during extra-time.

Beckingham agreed, adding: “The second equaliser has killed us and we just didn’t look capable of finding the strength of character to go and win the game again.”

Miller swung in a corner from the right and Gnohore looped his header over the bar in the 94th minute.

Fullone then released Warren Smith and French came rushing off his line to clear the ball away and Miller cracked a right-footed volley towards goal from 45-yards, which looped narrowly over its target.

Warren Smith whipped in a deep cross towards the far post and Moore ghosted in and his shot deflected just past the near post.

Deal Town deservedly took the lead for the first time on the night with 101 minutes on the clock.

Blunden played a sublime crossfield pass out of defence to release Moore down the right who was held back by McIntyre inside the box and referee Craig Burton pointed to the spot.

Beckingham agreed with the decision, saying, “Terrible defending, let the winger get in behind and it was a stonewall penalty, he’s pulled him back!”

Gnohore stepped up and rifled the resulting right-footed penalty into the roof of the net to put daylight between these two Kent rivals.

Anslow said: “He takes a great penalty, don’t he Yacine?

“He scored a penalty on Saturday. To face the same goalkeeper, what’s that, three times in two games, you’ve got to be a quality player to be able to send him the wrong way three times. He didn’t go the right way for his penalties.

“It was no more than we deserved at the time.

“Take nothing away from them. Believe me they’re a good side. If you could finish in and around them in the League, you’re going to be more than happy.

“You’ve seen my side over the years and there’s always something about us.”

Phoenix Sports went close on the stroke of half-time when Freeman swung in a corner from the right and Hill glanced his header across goal and the ball skimmed the post on its way out for a goal-kick.

Deal Town should have won it five minutes into the second period when Miller charged forward and substitute striker Thomas Ngogba lost composure inside the box and allowed French to dive to his left to make the a comfortable save.

But Phoenix Sports gave themselves a lifeline with nine minutes left.

Russell Bedford launched a trademark long throw into the penalty area and Deal defender Tompkins was guilty of sending his back-header off the underside of his own crossbar and Freeman bundled the ball into the bottom near corner from two-yards.

It was Freeman’s third goal of the season.

Beckingham said: “A scramble in the box and Ricky’s done what he does, put the ball in the net.

“You think to yourself maybe that’s the stroke of luck you need to get back in it and win the game but it wasn’t to be.”

“I was disappointed at the time. I thought it was a lucky goal,” added Anslow.

“I thought we’ve been really well on top in extra-time. We could have died but I actually though we kicked on again after that goal. I thought we went again and our heads didn’t drop.

“Last Tuesday we played against Rochester and we had different players. We conceded and our heads dropped. We’re totally the opposite now. Our heads didn’t drop

“They don’t know when they’re beat this side to be honest.”

Deal Town pressed for a late winner but Warren Smith glanced his header wide of the far post after Nuttall’s deep cross from the right.

But there can only be one winner in knockout FA Cup football and Deal Town came out on top in the end.

Freeman stepped up and gave Phoenix Sports the advantage by rifling his penalty into the roof of the net, before Gnohore levelled when he drilled home.

Phoenix substitute Brett Ince was next to step up and he sent Rankin the wrong way as the ball was drilled straight down the middle.

But Deal feared the worse when Miller missed their second penalty, French diving to his right to make the save.

Bedford’s penalty nestled into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Rankin guessing the right way and almost got there.

Deal attacker, substitute Warren Smith decided on a long run-up and lashed his penalty home.

Hill drove his penalty into the right corner, despite Rankin getting his hand to the ball.

Nuttall stepped up and slotted his penalty into the left-hand corner.

Phoenix Sports’ substitute Harrison Carneige stepped up and Rankin dived to his right to make the save and the Deal Town keeper forced sudden death when he slotted his penalty into the bottom right-hand corner leaving French rooted to the spot.

The score was 4-4 after ten penalties and now the pressure was really on for the players who opted out being the five nominated penalty takers.

Valencia just about held his nerve by rifling his penalty into the roof of the net, Rankin diving the right way and getting his hand to the shot.

Moore sent French the wrong way with his penalty to make it 5-5.

Phoenix right-back Ryan Andrews sent Rankin the wrong way with his penalty nestling into the bottom left hand corner.

Deal Town’s left-back Jimmy Matthews was the first of the left-footers, but he held his composure to find the top corner.

Phoenix Sports’ central defender Scott Whibley was relieved to see Rankin get something to his kick but the ball found the back of the net.

Deal defender Tompkins rifled another expertly taken penalty into the roof of the net to make the score 7-all after sixteen kicks.

Phoenix Sports’ substitute Rikki Cable blasted his right-footed penalty over the bar to the delight of the travelling fans to give Deal Town the advantage.

But Blunden wasted the opportunity and his kick was saved by the on-loan from Faversham Town stopper.

Left-footer McIntyre flashed his penalty wide of the right-hand post and Fullone was Deal Town’s hero when his kick nestled inside the bottom left-hand corner to win this epic FA Cup battle.

Beckingham said: “Penalties are a lottery and I’m never ever going to blame people that are brave enough to stand up and take one.

“We had a penalty to win the tie, the goalkeeper saves it and all of a sudden the momentum swings again. 

“They scored one more than we did so they deserve to win, simple really.”

When asked how he was feeling during the penalty shoot-out, Anslow replied: “You just sit and watch don’t you?

“I said to the boys when I got them in just before the pens and decide on the takers, I thought we were going to win.

“But regardless what ever happened and how the result went we were more than a match against one of the top five or six teams in the league.

“Jack got his hands to three or four, didn’t he? It could have been over before the 20th penalty or whatever it was. 

“The joke was Gio didn’t even fancy a penalty! He was dead on his feet and didn’t really fancy a pen.

“For him to take the winning one, I fancied him because he used to take my penalties in Academy at Cray.”

Anslow added: “I wouldn’t have liked to lost like that. I still think it’s a horrible way to decide games but it’s probably the only way to decide games.

“We could have played another two games. The way the two games went with last minute goals in both games it could have gone on and on and on.

“I’m elated. It’s our first win and it’s nice as a manager when you see a group of players together.

“I said to the club it’s going to take time when you go and completely re-build a different team.

“It’s not an easy job. You’ve got to get the team to click and play for each other and tonight the personnel we’ve brought in they’re definitely playing for each other now.

“I’m really pleased. I’m glad you were there to see it as well!”

Chessington & Hook United play one tier below Deal Town and lie in the top eight in their league with a 50% record from their opening two league games.

Anslow said: “I know they’re step-six but that doesn’t mean anything. There’s some great sides at that step six, some really strong sides over that way, so we’ll try and get them watched. They’ll get us watched at some stage.

“Good thing is they’ve got to travel down to us so it’s a little bit of a journey.

“It’s a chance for the club to get our name on the map, hopefully earn the club a few more pounds.

“The desire is there. We want to do well. You know me I always want to try and play a certain way. At least try to play and I think it was there tonight.

“I’m really pleased. It’s a very, very happy changing room. They’re starting to believe and when you get a team that believes in themselves they’re difficult to beat.

“We didn’t lie down today. We could have easily died that in that last couple of minutes but they kept fighting until the end and that’s all you can ask the players at this level.

“It’s gone all the way over two games. You couldn’t separate us over 180 minutes plus extra-time.  How many times do you see that? You saw by the boys’ reactions at the end how happy they are.”

Phoenix Sports: Rob French, Ryan Andrews, Jake McIntyre, Russell Bedford, Scott Whibley, Chris Hill, Louis Valencia, Sean Rowson (Brett Ince 100), Ricky Freeman, Carl Cornell (Rikki Cable 63), Enoch Adjei (Harrison Carnegie 59).
Subs: Baris Bozyigit, Shaquille Richards, James Brown, Myles Keizer-Burrows

Goals: Carl Cornell 3, Louis Valencia 80, Ricky Freeman 111

Deal Town: Jack Rankin, Ricky North (Jai Nuttall 87), Jimmy Matthews, Gio Fullone, Jamie Blunden, Ricky Tompkins, Todd Hickey (Warren Smith 46), Ryan Moore, Yacine Gnohore, Christian Gregory (Thomas Ngogba 46), Andy Miller.
Subs: Darren Smith, Jordan Clark, Gary Blunden, Ryan Harris

Goals: Yacine Gnohore 59, 101 (penalty), Jamie Blunden 90

Attendance: 171
Referee:  Mr Craig Burton (Rochester)
Assistants: Mr Zack Moules (Erith) & Mr Matt Barber (Dartford)