Phoenix Sports 1-3 Redhill - I've told the players that every one of them has got to go to apologise to anyone who paid to watch that today because it just wasn't good enough, admits embarrassed Phoenix Sports boss Paul Bryon

Saturday 18th September 2021
Phoenix Sports 1 – 3 Redhill
Location Mayplace Ground, Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, Kent DA7 6JT
Kickoff 18/09/2021 15:00

The Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Saturday 18 September 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Mayplace Road East

PHOENIX SPORTS manager Paul Bryon apologised for his side’s embarrassing performance after crashing out of The FA Cup to a Redhill side that had 10 men on the pitch for 57 minutes.

Harrison Williams’ side extended their unbeaten run to nine games and are now only two wins away from reaching the First Round after humiliating their second Isthmian League South East Division side on their travels.

Redhill won 3-0 at CB Hounslow United in the Extra Preliminary Round and were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Deal Town before coming away from The Charles Sports Ground with a 1-0 replay win.

Redhill then held Sevenoaks Town to a 1-1 draw at Kiln Brow and found themselves 3-0 down at half-time in the replay, before claiming a last-gasp 4-3 victory at Greatness Park, a result that also had Micky Collins calling the outcome “embarrassing.”

Redhill were far better than Phoenix Sports when it was 11-a-side and even losing centre-half Tom Drinkwater to a second bookable offence in the 33rd minute they ran out comfortable winners against a complacent Phoenix Sports outfit who played as though all they had to do to win was to turn up today.

Striker Aidan Brown notched his ninth goal of the season to give the ninth-placed Combined Counties League Premier Division South side (eight games from five games) a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time.

Redhill were gifted a two-goal advantage when Phoenix Sports centre-half Danny Young prodded the ball into his own goal nine minutes into the second half before the bottom six (with four points from five games) Isthmian League South East Division outfit scored with seven minutes remaining through striker Olalekan Osideko’s sixth goal of the season.

Danyaal Iqbal came off the bench and scored a counter-attacking third goal to complete the humiliation.

Whoever faces Redhill in the Third Qualifying Round in two weeks’ time must not think they are in for an easy ride as this team will never give in and can cause another upset.

“Embarrassing! Embarrassing! That’s the simple word and that’s what I said to the players,” said Bryon, whose side has now lost three games on the bounce.

“I thought we had the first 10 minutes of the game – and that was the only time when we ever looked any good.

“They went down to 10 men and I thought we started rushing things. They’ve scored three breakaway goals. Our defending was absolutely terrible, our touch was off, everything. It’s simply embarrassing!

“I think too many people think they’re going to go out there and play pretty football and win without competing and that’s what happens.

“I thought we started the better team actually and I think after the first 10 minutes they started getting into it. We knew their threat was going out wide and we didn’t deal with that.

“Our defensive shape was appalling in the first half. We were getting caught one-v-one. They were getting in between our centre-halves. It was just a poor defensive performance. It’s just not the defence, it was a poor performance all round.”

Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline was blasting out from the jubilant away dressing room after the match and Williams was delighted with his side’s performance in Barnehurst.

“Look, today it took a massive performance out from the boys, a massive effort, massive energy and you can see that with the amount of players going down with cramp towards the end because losing a player in the first half we were always going to be up against it but I thought we were good value for our lead at half-time,” said Williams.

“I thought we had the better chances probably before going down to 10 men and Aidan Brown took his chance excellently just before half-time and that gave us something to cling onto and defend.

“We got in their box no more than two or three times in the second half and we’ve managed to put the ball in the back of the net.

“You’ve got to praise the players.  That’s two Step Four sides away from home we’ve come and beaten in the FA Cup so it’s massive for the football club. It’s massive for this group of players and the supporters and the committee and we’ll try to go as far as we can.”

Phoenix Sports started the game by winning the possession stakes although it seemed goalkeeper Steven Phillips was getting more touches of the ball with his feet than his outfield team-mates as several back-passes were played back to him, instead of playing on the front foot in an attacking sense.

Redhill should have taken the lead inside the opening seven minutes when holding midfielder Alex Breffo lost possession inside his own half.

Redhill swept forward with a nice move involving Sam King and Brown, who laid the ball off on his outside to winger Noe Vendrells Parcersia, whose right-footed chip was flicked over the bar by Phillips.

“Steve tipped it over in the early minutes. I think that was the only other chance they had, it was the only save he made,” added the Phoenix boss.

Williams added: “It was a good move actually. We turned the ball over in midfield with quick passes and the keeper stands up well and makes a good save. 

“Noe will be disappointed he hasn’t put that one in the back of the net but goalkeepers make saves. I’ve seen him (Phillips) play before, he’s a good goalkeeper that guy and he made a good save.”

Left-winger Nathan Hogan delivered the resulting corner from the right which was deep and centre-half Joe Dyett stretched at the back post but couldn’t steer his header on target.

Redhill were shading the game while it was eleven-a-side and central midfielder Alfie Huckle pinged a diagonal to release Hogan in space down the left but centre-half Ben Fitchett slid in to block the shot for the away side’s second corner.

Hogan delivered another deep corner and Dyett found a pocket of space at the far post and steered his header straight into Phillips hands.

The clearance from Phillips was charged down illegally by Drinkwater, who picked up a needless yellow card.

The 20 minute point is a marker for a lower-league side to reach without conceding in The FA Cup but Redhill were much better than Phoenix Sports, who kept giving the ball away and far too many players lacked desire.

Breffo kept giving the ball away and right wing-back Fraser Walker was clearly out of position, leaving plenty of room in behind him and not tracking back and supporting the home side’s back four or back three.

Redhill created another chance in the 28th minute when Parcersia and right-back Jaden Edwards linked up well on the right before Edwards played a low pass inside to Brown inside the D, who comfortably spun Fitchett but his right-footed shot was comfortably saved by Phillips.

Phoenix Sports’ central midfielder Lee Bird released striker Jeff Duah-Kessi down the right and he was taken out just outside the penalty area by Drinkwater and referee Nick Dunn pulled out a yellow card followed by a red-card.

“It was another yellow card, it was as simple as that,” said Bryon.

“Then you think ‘alright, ok, be patient and we go and win the game,’ and they nicked one just before half-time.”

Williams said: “Unfortunately the referee hasn’t got much choice. Tom has been absolutely mammoth for us since coming in at the start of the season. He’s been excellent and he’s disappointed with himself.

“It’s the first yellow that kills him because the second one the guy just gets there before him and it’s one of those things. It’s not a silly foul or a stupid foul or anything like that. The guy just got the better of him.

“It’s the first yellow, blocking the goal-kick that kills him and he knows that and he’ll learn from it.”

Redhill kept two banks of four as King dropped from attacking midfield to slot in beside Dyett in the heart of defence for the remaining 57 minutes and was hardly tested.

Phoenix Sports’ only first-half opening came from the resulting free-kick which central midfielder James Dyer drilled his left-footed free-kick towards goal, which was punched away by visiting goalkeeper Jack Minchin, who was hardly tested during the entire game.

Bryon said: “Our performance was very poor today. We didn’t create anything, our touch was appalling, our movement was poor. We were playing into their hands, playing it into the centre-halves instead of playing it wide and that’s what I said at half-time.  The space is out wide and we kept giving it to the centre-forwards.”

Redhill hit Phoenix Sports on the counter-attack in the 42nd minute when Hogan’s looping pass released Parcersia over on the right and from a tight angle his attempt was clawed out by Phillips, stretching high at his near post.

However, at the other end, Duah-Kessie played a one-two with Bird before feeding Dyer in space but after taking a touch he cracked a poor left-footed drive which screamed harmlessly wide of the goal from 30-yards.

Redhill deservedly opened the scoring with 44 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock, after Phoenix Sports gave the ball away high up the pitch on the left.

Bird gave the ball away and Huckle fed Parcersia, who produced a sublime defensive splitting through ball down the middle and Brown easily skipped past last-defender Fitchett some 30-yards from goal before keeping composed to place his right-footed shot past Phillips outstretched left-leg to roll the ball across him to find the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

“Listen, Aidan Brown is a goalscorer. End off. We know the whole time he’s on the pitch, we’ve got a chance because we just have to create opportunities for him,” said Williams.

“Alfie put the ball over excellently, a good ball into Aidan and a great finish really. A great goal.”

Bryon added: “We tried to take a player on in the middle of the park and we gave the ball away and then the defence were all over the place. We’re one-v-one with our defender and he took the goal quite well.

“I think the other two centre-halves should be tighter to him as well.  It should be three-v-one there, why should he be one-v-one and he’s put Ben on his backside.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Bryon said: “You’re not playing football, you’re not following instructions. You’re not switching the play, you’re not getting it out wide and you’re not moving them about.  You’re playing it into their defence when they get the ball deep they’re not being opposed and they’re hitting the channels and we’re not defending that well enough.”

Williams added: “I said look we don’t get beat and if we have to deal with it on Tuesday, we’ll deal with it on Tuesday.

“I half expected Phoenix to come out with a back four as opposed to a back three, which I think the back three played to our advantage because it allowed us to cover ground quicker and when they went to a back four it did cause us more problems but the idea was to drop off and wait for them to get in and around our own half and press from there and look to break when we could.”

Phoenix Sports created a decent opening after only 46 seconds into the second half following their second of seven corners.

Dyer played a corner short to Fraser Walker, who took a touch before floating a cross towards the penalty spot for Duah-Kessie to loop his header over the crossbar.

Phoenix Sports lacked the intelligence to break down a stubborn Redhill defence and failed to move the ball quickly and get it out wide and deliver quality balls into the box.

Fraser Walker played the ball into Duah-Kessie outside the box and he played the ball inside to Bird, who was in space and stroked his left-footed drive straight into Michin’s gloves for a comfortable save, trying to score from a central position some 30-yards from goal.

The home side then went with three at the back (Clark (left), Young (central) and Fitchett (right) and pushed bodies forward but the quality and desire was clearly lacking.

However, Phoenix Sports faced a huge mountain to climb when Redhill grabbed a two-goal lead, against the run of play, and on the counter-attack with 10 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

They raided down the left as left-back Nathaniel Keylock linked up well with Hogan before Kenlock put in a great low cross towards the near post and Young prodded the ball past Phillips from six-yards, the ball nestling inside the bottom near corner.

Williams said: “One of our full-backs has got bundles of energy, great to have pace and they’re very good on the front foot.  The boys have broken well, a good overlap from that and Nathan puts him in and it’s a good ball in a great area and that the defender needs to deal with that and unfortunately it’s gone in the back of the net.

“It’s one of those things. It’s a good move and if it’s not the centre-half that puts it in the goal, I’d like to think it’s our centre-forward tapping it in.”

Bryon added: “We had two-v-two out there and one of the players hasn’t followed the runner and he’s got a cross in and we’ve poked it into our own net. It’s a calamity of errors. The whole game is a calamity of errors!”

Clarke whipped in a cross from the left and Duah-Kessie’s free-header from inside the Redhill box was comfortably gathered by the Redhill keeper.

Phoenix Sports missed a glorious chance in the 61st minute following their third corner of the game, which was won by Duah-Kessie down the left.

Dyer swung the ball in and keeper Minchin flapped at the ball and flicked it away but Duah-Kessie leaned back and lashed his left-footed volley over the crossbar.

With less than 20 minutes left to play, Clark floated in a left-footed free-kick from the right and Doha-Kessie found space on the edge of the Redhill box but failed to keep his powerful header close to the target.

Phoenix Sports continued to press for a goal and had most of the possession but Redhill received a huge slice of luck in the 81st minute.

Duah-Kessie ran towards the by-line and rode a challenge from Edwards before cutting the ball back for substitute Kweku Ansah, who curled his right-footed shot against the outside of the far post from 16-yards.

Bryon said: “He’s hit it well but again you want to be hitting the target. We’ve had chances but they weren’t real clear-cut chances.”

Williams added: “I was quite happy with how much we limited them, absolutely limited them and I think it’s swings and roundabouts, there were things that didn’t go our way as well.”

However, the home side’s pressure finally paid off as they scored a consolation goal with 37 minutes and 16 seconds on the clock.

Fraser Walker, better attacking than he was defending today, put in a low cross from the right into Duah-Kessie inside the penalty area and he teed up Osideko who scuffed his shot in off the keeper, the ball trickling over the line.

“We’ve had two very good chances right at the end. It was a lucky goal that he scored. We didn’t test their goalkeeper at all,” admitted Bryon.

“He got lucky with that, he scuffed it and he had another one right at the far post at the end and he’s had an open goal and he’s missed it!”

Williams refused to point the finger of blame at emergency centre-half King for the goal.

He said: “I’m not being funny, that’s a 20-year-old centre midfield player that’s gone in at centre-half so there’s three players under the age of 20 in that back four to get us through the game.

“After going down to 10 men I thought we defended brilliantly, excellently. It’s a ball in the box, we’ve not quite won the first one, we’ve not got around the second one and he’s put it in the back of the net.

“It’s one of those things. I think they were always going to score at some point. I didn’t see us keeping a clean-sheet in that second half so to keep them out for as long as we did, yes, it is what it is.”

Redhill wrapped up their deserved victory with 43 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a counter-attack and a super finish from the diminutive super-sub Iqbal.

Phoenix Sports lost possession of the ball some 30-yards from goal and Iqbal drove into the penalty area and despite the home side getting men back no one attempted to tackle Iqbal.  Once inside the box, Iqbal cut the ball onto his right foot before rifling the ball over Phillips into the roof of the net.

“Look, Danyaal’s an excellent footballer and he has a massive impact for us off the bench on a regular basis and probably someone who will be knocking on my door to start a few more games,” said Williams.

“He does impact games particularly well, like he did at Sevenoaks last week really. He’s gone on a run, fresh legs and he’s come inside and finished it and that’s what it’s all about. We’re a group, it’s not what the starting 11 do, it’s what we do from number one to 16 and that’s what we’ve got.”

Bryon added: “We’ve lost the first header and then Danny Young’s gone in for the second header and he should never have gone for it and then it’s two-v-one and if he stands and just holds him and delays him and then he’s got in and then we’ve got numbers back and he’s still got a shot in.  Unbelievable! It’s just embarrassing, it really is.”

Redhill’s game management clearly frustrated Bryon during the second half as they often slowed the game down and players went down with cramp.

Williams said: “Our job second half was to frustrate them. It’s not the way we want to play the game and actually the red card spoilt the game a little bit in a sense that it was two good teams having a go at each other and it became a bit defensive after the red-card but we had to do what we had to do to win the game.”

Referee Dunn played six minutes and 31 seconds of stoppage time and Phoenix Sports could have snatched an unlikely second bite of the cherry with two late chances.

Ineffective substitute striker Byron Walker skipped past Iqbal and Joe Jarrett before playing the ball over to Kweku Ansah on the right hand side but he lashed his shot over the crossbar with his right-foot.

Fraser Walker’s floated corner from the right should have been tucked home at the far post by Osideko but he couldn’t add to his five goals already this season from close range but a second goal would have been flattering and proves Redhill’s thrilling win at Sevenoaks Town in the last round was not a flash in the pan.

Redhill last reached The FA Cup Third Qualifying Round in 2014 when they lost 1-0 at Greenwich Borough, while this is a big missed opportunity for Phoenix Sports, who miss out on a potentially lucrative tie.

Redhill have taken their FA Cup prize money up to £8,194, while Phoenix Sports, who have beaten Molesey (1-0), Punjab United (7-0), and Chipstead (2-1) walk away with £5,944 in the bank following their run.

“It’s a big, big opportunity missed, a massive opportunity missed,” admitted Bryon.

“It’s an embarrassing result and they were a better side than us.  The way we’ve played this year up until Tuesday, we’ve had a really poor performance on Tuesday (losing 3-0 at home to Sevenoaks Town) and a really poor performance today and we’ve got to sort it out.”

When asked if he had a message for his supporters, Bryon replied: “I’m sorry for them. It’s embarrassing! I’ve told the players that every one of them has got to go in there (the clubhouse) and apologise to anyone who paid to watch that today because it just wasn’t good enough and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, we were too complacent.

"We weren't at the races. I just think people were too complacent and we got what we deserved and they deserved to win.

“We’ve got to have a reaction (at Sittingbourne next Saturday) and there’s certain players who won’t be involved in that because they were so bad today. 

“There were three players (who can take some credit). I’m not going to name them but three players I thought did well but other than that I thought there were eight that didn’t.  Steve Phillips, the goalkeeper, hasn’t had a bad game. I’m not going to name the others. I’m going to leave that for in there.”

Going by the text above, Duah-Kessie tried to make things happen for his side but I’m struggling to find the other player in a green shirt that impressed.

When asked what this FA Cup run will do for Redhill, a side that play in the ninth-tier of English football, Williams replied: “It’s massive for the football club. We’re currently undergoing renovations and things like that and the money helps towards that.

“I think more importantly when we took this job on we were bottom of the league last year on zero points and to go on and won a trophy last year and third qualifying round of The FA Cup, it’s the furthest we’ve gone for the last decade and it’s testament for a group of boys who have come in and really changed the culture of the football club.

“I think the most important thing for me is the tide is turning. We’ve had some mammoth wins down at Deal on a Tuesday night in a replay, which was an excellent result, a tough place to play. Sevenoaks was exactly the same thing and today, this group don’t know when to give up and bring on the next round and see what happens.

“We’re only two wins (away from the first round). It’s still a lot though isn’t it. It’s still a lot, we’ll see.  We’re two wins away so we want the lowest-ranked possible team at home. If there’s a Step Four side that want to come to us, then brilliant. 

“If not, failing that, we want the best away day possible for a day out because I think we’ve over-achieved in this competition this year so either a home draw or the furthest away tie as possible.

“It’s just team spirit. This group is massive with their effort, their energy and never say die and there’s just belief there.  No matter what we believe we can get something.”

Williams finished by giving this message to Redhill fans, adding, “Just stick with us. That one is for you and enjoy it, enjoy it whilst it lasts, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Phoenix Sports: Steven Phillips, Fraser Walker, Lewis Clark (Alfie Evans 75), Alex Breffo, Danny Young, Ben Fitchett, Andrew Dythe (Byron Walker 63), Lee Bird, Jeff Duah-Kessie, Olalekan Osideko, James Dyer (Kweku Ansah 69).
Subs: Henry Douglas, Aaron Clarke, Klaudio Krasniqi, Teddy Green

Goal: Olalekan Osideko 83

Booked: Lewis Clark 73, Jeff Duah-Kessie 79
Redhill: Jack Minchin, Jaden Edwards, Nathaniel Kenlock, Joe Jarrett, Tom Drinkwater, Joe Dyett, Nathan Hogan, Alfie Huckle (Nathan Upton 79), Aidan Brown (Josh Phillips 84), Sam King, Noe Vendrells Parceria (Danyaal Iqbal 75).
Subs: Shane Clarke, Callum Macleod

Goals: Aidan Brown 45, Danny Young 56 (own goal), Danyaal Iqbal 75

Booked: Tom Drinkwater 18, Josh Phillips 90, Noe Vendrells Parcersia 90, Joe Jarrett 90

Sent Off:  Tom Drinkwater 33

Attendance: 178
Referee: Mr Nick Dunn
Assistants: Mr Stephen Matthews & Mr Piotr Zachwieja