PHOENIX SPORTS 0 WHITSTABLE TOWN 2
Bostik League South East
Saturday September 15 2018 15.00
An excellent first half performance by Whitstable was instrumental in their second consecutive league victory. New signing Steve Smith caused problems for the home defence throughout and set up the first goal for Ricky Freeman, who had almost scored in the first minute. Jordan Wright and Chris Saunders also went close. Phoenix struggled to get into the game and created few chances before the break, but Dan Eason did well to save from Jeff Duah-Kessie when he broke clear. Jack Barry made their task harder, when he was dismissed for a poor challenge in the 39th minute and Smith almost doubled the lead with a great effort that struck the post. The home team were better in the second half, despite playing with ten men, and created a number of openings without being able to find an end product. Wright, Smith and James Morrish all had chances for Whitstable before Smith played in Freeman for his second. The returning Louis Sprosen curled a shot just wide late on, but Whitstable had done enough to claim the points. Stuart West and Freeman both unfortunately limped off with ankle injuries that will need to be assessed before the next match.
After bowing out of the FA Cup in their last game, Whitstable returned to league action hoping to build on the win against Ashford United. Included in the team was new striker Steve Smith, who made the move from Glebe during the week. Louis Sprosen, a member of last season’s successful squad, has re-joined the club and started on the bench. Charlie Smith was completing a three game ban for his dismissal at Hounslow, whilst Ricky Freeman was returning to a club, for which he had previously played and enjoyed success. Whitstable had only visited the Mayplace Ground for a pre-season friendly in July 2016, when Phoenix Sports, then members of the Isthmian League North, completed a comfortable 2-0 win. The home team that day contained three players who started this game, Steve Phillips, Ryan Andrews and Jack Barry, but Dan Eason was the only Whitstable player to feature in both games. Phoenix had started this season well, with three wins from four league games and they remain in the FA Cup.
It was almost the perfect start for Whitstable, when a ball forward by Tom Bryant drew goalkeeper Phillips out of his area and his clearance went straight to Freeman, who hooked the ball towards the empty goal, but just wide. A few minutes later, Smith made a strong run into the box and the ball was played out to Freeman whose shot across goal was scooped over by Jordan Wright, who played at left wing back for this game, with John Walker returning to the right. Whitstable were winning every loose ball at this stage and continued to create chances. Smith headed a James Morrish cross towards goal, where it was grabbed by Phillips and then Wright and Freeman combined to set up Chris Saunders, whose shot was tipped over the bar by Phillips. Whitstable suffered an injury blow when Stuart West had to be replaced by Teddy Nelson on 23 minutes. The first real opportunity for the home side came when Jonny Miller-Annor got past Nelson, sprinted down the right and pulled the ball back for Tony Robinson, who shot over the bar. Freeman made another run into the box and found Smith, but he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Phoenix were just starting to get into the game around the half hour mark and a cross by Ashley Probets was glanced wide by Miller-Annor, then Jeff Duah-Kessie broke clear of the Whitstable defence, but hesitated with just Eason to beat and ended up shooting straight at the goalkeeper who stood up well. Whitstable opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, when Smith rose well to head a clearance into the path of Freeman and he slotted the ball past Phillips. There was a half chance for an equaliser when a long ball by Andrews was stabbed wide by a stretching Robinson. Phoenix were reduced to ten men shortly afterwards when a needless challenge in midfield by Jack Barry gave the referee little choice and, after the bout of pushing and shoving that followed, the red card was shown. Duah-Kessie had another sight of goal following a bit of a scramble, but the ball was kept out by the Whitstable defence. On 43 minutes, Smith ran on to a clearance by Rob Gillman and tried a great chip from outside the box, but it hit the far post and the rebound was hooked over the top of the unguarded net by Wright. In stoppage time, a good passing sequence by Whitstable was finished at the back post by Wright, but celebrations were cut short by an offside flag. The visitors went into the break 1-0 ahead, but there was a feeling that they may come to regret missing several good chances to increase their advantage.
Phoenix played with more purpose in the second half and an early shot by Miller-Annor was deflected to Eason, although Whitstable almost scored again when Walker crossed to Wright, but his shot was well saved by Phillips. Chances were now coming at both ends and Duah-Kessie worked his way into the box from a narrow angle on the left and went down as Nelson made a challenge, but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty. Back at the other end, Morrish won the ball and fed Smith who shot over. A long ball was then helped on for Miller-Annor and his chip beat Eason, but sailed over the bar. Wright then made a good run down the left and picked out Morrish at the near post, but his shot was just too high. There were a couple more good crosses by both teams, but neither could find the decisive finish. The Phoenix manager was warned by the referee for some comments made and just afterwards in the 69th minute, Freeman struck again for Whitstable. A Saunders pass sent Smith away down the left and he ran into the box before squaring the ball for Freeman to score. He was caught by Probets as he tucked the ball away and had to be substituted by Tom Walmsley.
Smith had another shot saved by Phillips and Eason also made a routine stop from a Lewis Clarke effort. Both teams used all three substitutes, but Phoenix rarely threatened in the closing stages. Whitstable came the closest to adding another when Sprosen played a one-two with Walmsley before curling a shot past the far post, but the score remained 2-0.
It had been a good performance by Whitstable, who fully deserved the three points against a team that showed glimpses of what they are capable of, but will probably regret their slow start to the game.
|11||Free Kicks Won||8|
Steve Phillips (c), Ryan Andrews, Ashley Probets, Conrad Lee, Danny Young, Jack Barry, Tony Robinson, Lewis Clarke (Lee Bird 88), Jeff Duah-Kessie (Matt Neary 84), Jonny Miller-Annor (Kenny Aileru 61), Alfie Aldridge.
Subs (unused): Kyren Mundle-Smith, Tarik Ibrahim.
Red card: Jack Barry 39
Dan Eason, Jordan Wright, John Walker, Stuart West (Teddy Nelson 23), Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Chris Saunders, James Morrish (c), Ricky Freeman (Tom Walmsley 73), Steve Smith (Louis Sprosen 84), Jai McKinlay.
Subs (unused): Chris Elliott, Kyran Connolly.
Goals: Ricky Freeman 33, 69.
Yellow cards: Steve Smith 70, Jai McKinlay 80.
Referee: David Harrison
Assistants: Chris Price & David Lunani