Phoenix Sports 2-1 Faversham Town - Sometimes you get these results when you play terribly, admits Phoenix Sports boss Paul Bryon

Tuesday 12th November 2019
Phoenix Sports 2 – 1 Faversham Town
Location Mayplace Ground, Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, Kent DA7 6JT
Kickoff 12/11/2019 19:45

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 12 November 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Mayplace Road East

NEWLY-APPOINTED Faversham Town manager James Collins says he will be taking plenty of positives from his first game in charge in the Isthmian League South East Division despite losing to play-off chasing Phoenix Sports.


The Lilywhites took the lead through striker Max Morgan’s classy finish nine minutes before half-time to take his goalscoring tally for the season to four goals.

Phoenix Sports claimed the victory courtesy of two headed goals from holding midfielder Jack Hopkins’ fourth goal of the season and on-loan Gillingham striker Ben Allen, who notched his ninth of the season.

Former Chatham Town manager Collins, 36, has brought with him Nick Davis (assistant) and Brad Sandeman (coach), while Clive Walker who was in caretaker charge of two 1-0 wins over Herne Bay in the Kent Senior Cup and East Grinstead Town on Saturday, was in the dug-out tonight.

Phoenix Sports were without Zak Bryon (broken leg) and Harry Harding, who has put his footballing career on hold, while Faversham Town centre-half Matthew Bourne sat out with a foot injury.

“Disappointed to lose the game but I thought it was a real good performance and I was well pleased with it,” said Collins.

“I went to watch them on Saturday (1-0 win at East Grinstead Town) and you kind of get a rough idea and we’ve had a team talk, no training session and I thought we played quite well and gave a good account of ourselves and there’s lots to work with.

“The only negative for me is the defeat and the only thing I’m worried about is winning games of football so it’s a bit of a double edged sword but I’m well pleased with the performance.”

Collins has never managed at this level before tonight and was asked the difference between this and the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division.

“It’ll take me a little time to work that out but I generally believe the top six teams in the SCEFL would hold their own in this,” said Collins.

“The pace of the game is maybe a little bit quicker, maybe the players’ have a little bit more knowhow.  I think quality wise on the ball I wouldn’t imagine there’s lots but probably all the off-the-ball stuff you step-up.

“I think when you step-up a level everybody is better at five percent at everything, a little bit better, more physical, more knowhow, a little bit better on the ball.  If you keep putting five percent together, that’s the difference.”

Phoenix Sports manager Paul Bryon admitted: “I thought we were poor, I thought we were really poor!

“The last five or six games we’ve been excellent.  We’ve had a bit of a break and it didn’t work and I thought first half was absolutely appalling! Second half was a little bit better but sometimes you’ve got to win ugly and that’s what we’ve done tonight!

“Their keeper didn’t make a save in the first half and we weren’t creating, our passing was off, our decision making was poor but I thought we got at them in the second half early.

“I did think once we scored the first goal, I thought if we stepped it up 10 per cent, we’ll probably get the win. It wasn’t easy and we were very poor!

“Faversham were very energetic, to be fair to them. I said that to the lads before the game. I said every one of them are playing for their place out there, they’re going to turn it up. They’re going to have an extra ten percent in them. I watched them on Saturday and they didn’t play like that.

“They gave us a really good game and fair play, I think he’s got something to work with there, James.”

Phoenix Sports created the first opening inside the opening five minutes when Allen’s right-footed free-kick from within the left-channel was swung into the side netting, with visiting keeper Luke Watkins scrambling across to his right.

“I thought today our decision making up top was poor.  When we should’ve passed it, we shot and when we should’ve shot we passed it. We was a bit disappointing,” admitted Bryon.

Faversham Town were denied the lead when they hit Phoenix Sports on the counter-attack in the 17th minute.

Phoenix Sports’ left-back Lewis Clark swung in a free-kick from the right, which was cleared by Robert Lawrence, who released Luke Griffiths before winger Makhosini Khanye put striker Morgan through on goal but goalkeeper Steve Phillips made a vital save with his left-foot when Morgan only had the keeper to beat.

“That was the game-plan.  We thought we had a little bit of pace going forward and we could hit them on the counter-attack,” said Collins.

“We defended the corner well and it was a great ball through and Max was a bit disappointed that he didn’t finish it.

“We’ve got to create three or four chances for him a game and I expect him to score one in three and he did a little bit later on.”

Bryon added: “He’s made two very good saves today, two one-on-ones. He’s made two saves with his feet and that’s why we say keepers are there to do a job and that’s their job, to make them saves and luckily for us he did it at the right times and he had another one in the second half.”

Faversham Town played with a 4-2-3-1 formation and their football was attractive to watch with wingers Anthony Adesite and Khanye causing a threat. Gone is the boring direct football that has been served up by previous managers.

Lawrence floated a free-kick into the Phoenix Sports box and left-back Jamie Maxted had too much time to guide his free-header straight into Phillips hands from 12-yards.

Phoenix Sports’ winger Lauris Chin had electrifying pace and he reached the by-line down the right before cutting the ball back to an unmarked Allen, who tried to bend his right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 25-yards, which was held low to his left by Watkins.

“When Lauris Chin runs inside, he gets to pass it and we say to him get on the outside and he’ll roast people and second half I thought he caused them a lot of problems,” added Collins.

Collins added: “I think that was the only shot in the first half from outside the box and I thought we restricted them well.

“I remember Luke making that save and one in the second half, which was a from a free-kick that went all the way through. Apart from that I don’t think he’s made a save in the game.  I thought we restricted them well and the game plan was working up until half-time.”

Lawrence delivered a moving in the air free-kick from 30-yards, which was flicked towards goal by Morgan and Phillips did well to gather.

Faversham Town deserved their lead when it came with 35 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

Adesite was 35-yards from goal on the right-hand side when he played a sublime through ball along the pitch to put Morgan through on goal.  Morgan easily skipped past the advancing keeper and with his next touch, slotted his right-footed shot into the back of an empty net from a tight-angle, on the right-hand side of the penalty box, 15-yards from goal.

“I was appointed manager on Saturday night and thrown in today so I’m delighted with them,” said Collins.

“They took on board what we asked them to do and I’m really, really happy with the performance.

“He wasn’t chasing a lost cause but I don’t think Max was favourite to get there but he’s gone round Steve Phillips and that’s a great finish!

“He’s done ever so well to finish that, certainly a harder chance than the one that he missed but I’m well pleased for him but he looked disappointed after that first one so he’s got to keep going and he got his reward with a goal.”

Bryon added: “A comedy of errors.  Steve’s got the ball and he could’ve switched play and gone out to the left-centre-half. He’s gone back to the right-centre-half and he’s under pressure and he’s given the ball away and they’ve nipped in.

“The goal was coming though. They got what they deserved. We weren’t playing well enough, we weren’t reaction, we weren’t picking up enough second balls and to be fair at half-time I said we deserved to be one-nil down.”

Faversham Town received a huge slice of luck on the stroke of half-time when right-back Donvieve Jones got away with one, bringing down Chin four-yards from the penalty area as the last-defender and referee Rhys Battye pulled out a yellow card.

Both managers admitted it should have been red!

Bryon said: He was right on the edge of the box. He was one-v-one against the keeper, no one is touching him there. He’s the fastest player on the pitch by a mile.  He only defender is square with the other defender. They’re never getting round him. If he doesn’t bring him down he’s one-v-one. It’s a sending off, it’s a red-card all day long!

“Sometimes they go for you, sometimes they don’t but there’s no one touching Chinny when he’s there. The guy’s 20-yards away from him, he’s never going to get there.  The referees get it wrong on the tele. They’re not going to get it right all the time!”

Collins admitted: “Yes probably! Look, he won the ball maybe after he fouled him but I think if you give him a foul, I think it’s a foul, it’s a red card.  If you give a foul in there it’s normally a red-card so I love these guys at Phoenix, I can’t go against what they say, I see where he’s coming from.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Bryon said: “I said look, you’ve been given a bit of time off because you’ve had quite a few knocks and stuff and I regret it now.

“You started sloppily. It’s the worst performance of the season so far, even when we lost our first four games we were still a lot better than that.

“I said I’ll give them five minutes and I’ll make changes. Individuals weren’t doing what I was telling them to do and you just playing individually.

“It was a bit sterner than that and a little bit louder than that.  I told them to man-up, get on with it and go out and you’ve got 45 minutes to put it right and the one thing I did say to them was I’ve got 100% belief that you step-up to 90% of what you can do, you’ll win this game of football.”

Collins added: “It was just a great half and I just wanted to really, really implement everything that we asked them to do. I just perhaps wanted them to be a little bit more positive on the ball, show for the ball a little bit more.

“We didn’t have a particularly big side and that showed later on in the game when we’ve conceded two goals from headers.

“I just wanted them to a be a little bit more positive and express themselves a little bit on the ball. We played some football and scored the goal. We played some alright football tonight and created a couple of chances.”

Faversham Town centre-half Joshua Dorling noticed Phillips was standing off his line so he tried to chip the ball over his head from 40-yards, only for the Phoenix keeper to back-peddle before catching the ball above his head after only 220 seconds into the second-half.

Visiting keeper Watkins was called into action just 32 seconds before the equaliser.

Adesite was penalised for handball, Allen whipped in the resulting free-kick from the left and Jack Barry came up from the back to flick his shot towards the bottom far corner, which forced a fine diving save from the former Ramsgate keeper, diving to his left to tip the ball around the post.

Bryon said: “I think maybe we should’ve scored there if I’m honest. Jack Barry should’ve got a bigger touch to that. We had two very good chances that we didn’t take in the second half.”

Collins said: “It was a free-kick outside the box and the cross has come in and Luke’s done well. It was a good ball into a good area and that was a good save.”

Clark swung in the resulting corner from the right towards the far post for Hopkins to bury his downward header into the bottom left-hand corner from just inside the six-yard box.

Bryon said: “He likes scoring with his head Hoppo, that’s his fourth goal this season with his head!

“We said to them before the game they’re not the biggest side. If we have good movement in the box from set-plays, you’ll have free headers and we got one and we put it away.

“It was a good time to score. We hit them hard just after coming out from the break and apart from maybe twice in the second half, I thought it was one way traffic.”

Collins added: “Just disappointing to concede because it wasn’t like we were under the cosh for 20 minutes and riding our luck.

“That was frustrating because I didn’t feel they were building any sort of pressure. I felt quite comfortable and we allowed them to score and I’d like to think we could’ve done a bit better but listen, it is what it is. You concede goals that I don’t like so I don’t ever like conceding any goals and it was disappointing to concede from a set-piece.”

Eight-goal striker Jeff Duah-Kessie endured a quiet night for the home side, as was Jack Sellens for Faversham Town, who let the game pass him by, playing just in behind Morgan.

Ryan Andrews threw the ball to Allen, who cushioned his header down and Duah-Kessie hooked his volley over the crossbar from 20-yards as the game entered the hour-mark.

“I said to the two young lads (Toby Greenfield and Dorling), look I believe they’ve got one of the best strikers in the league. He’s someone I’ve liked and tried to get for a long time,” revealed Collins.

“I said if you keep him quiet, I know I’ve got two good centre-halves so talking about positives from the game, I think I’ve got two really good centre-halves in there.”

On Duah-Kessie, Bryon added: “He’s missed a game. I know he played against Margate but he just missed a game. You have to keep playing him but he’ll be back to his best, don’t worry about that!”

Khanye sprung into life in the 75th minute, cutting in from the right and stroking his left-footed angled drive towards the bottom near corner from 25-yards, which was comfortably gathered by Phillips at his near post down on his knees.

“Similar to Ben Allen’s one wasn’t it in the first half. It was a shot from outside the box, you expect the goalkeeper to save them,” added Collins.

Good wing play from Chin set up a difficult chance for Duah-Kessie, who slid in at full-stretch at the far post but could only steer his shot wide.

Both sides created a late chance each with 22 seconds separating a vital save from Phoenix Sports keeper Phillips and the winning goal.

Khanye split open the Phoenix Sports defence with a sublime through ball to put Adesite through on goal and he only had Phillips to beat but the keeper rushed off his line and met the winger inside the box to make a vital save with his legs.

Phillips launched the ball forward and Phoenix Sports grabbed the winning goal with 40 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock.

Substitute wideman George Whitlock floated in a great cross from the left towards the near post where Allen looped his free-header over Watkins into the roof of the net from 10-yards.

Bryon said: “He made the save and we then went up the other end.

“I changed it, I brought Lee Bird on in the middle of the park, whose probably more of a footballer than the other lad (Mahmoud Juma) to get us passing the ball and then I brought George Whitelock on because I knew he would delivered early and it was a great header and that’s what Ben does. He can be frustrating at times but he’s a match winner and that’s what he’s done.”

“Anthony’s been brilliant tonight, I thought he’s played really well,” added Collins.

“I thought he should’ve squared it, there was three people and an open goal but he’s worked hard and deserved to have a shot. As we go along, I expect him to score but he’s had one chance, I don’t want to be too hard on him but he’s worked his socks off tonight and that’s football.

“We’ve been sucker-punched really, that’s probably how I feel, it’s that transition from attacking to defending and we’ve committed a couple of bodies forward and I felt we can win the game.

“I said to the bench we thought there was another goal in it, it’s just unfortunate it’s gone to Phoenix.”

Cray Valley (Paper Mills) sit top of the Isthmian League South East Division table with 26 points from 11 games.

The play-off places are now occupied by Hastings United (22 points from 10 games), Sevenoaks Town (21 points from 11 games), VCD Athletic (19 points from 11 games) and Phoenix Sports (18 points from 11 games).

Faversham Town remain in thirteenth-place in the pecking order with 13 points from their 11 league outings.

Phoenix Sports travel to Hastings United on Saturday, while Faversham Town host second-from-bottom side Three Bridges at Salters Lane.

“The only negative for me is the result. I’m well pleased with the application of the players. You kind of expect everyone to work hard when they’re trying to impress the new manager so we’ll see how the next couple of games go,” added Collins.

“I’m looking forward to Thursday, getting a training session in and work on a couple of things and see loads of things that we can take into Saturday’s game so looking forward to it now.”

The Phoenix Sports manager revealed the reasons behind Harding not taking part tonight.

“We’ve lost two of our better ball playing players in the week. Harry Harding has given up football for a little while and Zak Bryon’s broken his leg.  It showed tonight in our passing, there was no passing really in the first half and that’s why I brought Lee on just to pass.

“This team will do alright if they just understand and follow the instructions and what I was pleased with was we didn’t give up.  We kept going and sometimes you get these results when you play terrible and that’s what happened tonight.  I’m not unhappy but we probably didn’t deserve a win tonight but we got it and that’s the way it was.”

And on his side’s trip to Hastings United, Bryon replied: “We haven’t had a good time there in their history, they like it on their pitch. We know what they’re all about. They’ll be pacey and rotate and their movement will be good. We’re going to have to be right on our mettle and work hard and see where we are and we’ll see what happens but they’re a good side.”

Phoenix Sports: Steve Phillips, Ryan Andrews, Lewis Clark, Jack Hopkins, Danny Young, Jack Barry, Lauris Chin, Mahmoud Juma (Lee Bird 67), Jeff Duah-Kessie, Ben Allen, Kenny Aileru (George Whitelock 85).
Subs: Ashley Probets, Andrew Dythe, James Dyer

Goals: Jack Hopkins 52, Ben Allen 86

Booked: Lauris Chin 23, Danny Young 36, Lewis Clark 72, Ben Allen 83

Faversham Town: Luke Watkins, Donvieve Jones, Jamie Maxted, Robert Lawrence, Toby Greenfield, Joshua Dorling, Luke Griffiths, Max Morgan, Jack Sellens (Ollie Lee 69), Makhosini Khayne.
Subs: Steven Mills, Michael Dwane-Holden, Tom Barton, Harry Earls

Goal: Max Morgan 36

Booked: Donvieve Jones 45

Attendance: 62
Referee: Mr Rhys Battye (Grays, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Jake Woodman (Eastbourne, East Sussex) & Mr James Goodman (Ilford, Essex)