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Erith Town 1-3 Phoenix Sports
Erith Town 1-3 Phoenix Sports

In front of a new record home league gate for Erith Town, two late goals helped Phoenix Sports to win the Southern Counties East Football League curtain raiser.

It was tough on the Dockers whose misery was compounded by being reduced to ten men, but Phoenix had the quality of former Crystal Palace and Millwall player, Dave Martin, and the vastly experienced Ryan Hayes to give them the edge.

New Erith goalkeeper Mackenzie Foley was relieved early on when his clearance struck Luke Leppard and ballooned over. However, the visitors didn’t take too long to go ahead. Martin was brought down in the penalty area, and Hayes crashed the spot-kick into the bottom corner.

Steadman Callender came close to levelling with a free kick before the Dockers’ Joe Chalker fired over after Andy Walker’s punch flew into his path.

At the other end Hayes shot wide of the far post but Harry Taylor had a shot beaten out by Walker for Erith.

Calvin Senedu got on the end of a deep Martin free kick for Phoenix, but the angle was too tight, and he could only head into the side netting. However, the end-to-end aspect of the game continued when Walker made an excellent low save from Ladic Melconian.

As the first half moved into stoppage time Charlie Clover had a shot cleared off the line by Bertie Valler and the danger looked over. However, it was crossed back into the area and Clover showed great technique to fire home.

There was still time for Callender to shoot wide before the first half was ended.

After the break, Callender did well to create space to cross, Clover got there first, but Walker managed to turn his flick around the post.

Tashie-Jay Kwayie spun and shot just wide for Phoenix then Taylor headed wide from a Chalker cross at the other end.

Another Martin deep corner caused problems when picking out Kwayie, but he could only volley well off target. Then clever skills by Martin created a half chance but his cute chip floated over.

After that the Dockers enjoyed a spell of pressure.

Ryan Mahal was at full stretch and could only stab wide after Phoenix had troubled to clear. Clover then delivered a cross that Jason Goodchild met with a strong header, but it came back out off the bar.

Next Taylor got on the end of a long ball in but got too firm a head on it and it went wide when a glance was all that it needed. Callender then looked to be boxed in by the corner flag but somehow tricked his way out and created an angle to send a left foot curler towards the far post. Walker through himself across the goal and made a brilliant full length save. Melconian then hit a low drive wide.

Seven minutes remained when the deadlock was broken, a little against the run of play. Hayes surged down the right hand side and his effort from out wide crashed against the bar. However, Alfie Evans was alert enough to get to the rebound and clip it beyond Foley and into the net.

Three minutes later, Jerome Jayaguru picked up his second yellow card of the night for a foul on the edge of the box and while Erith were reorganising themselves, Hayes took a quick free kick to put Evans away and he crossed low for Luke Leppard to tuck it away.

That settled an entertaining evening between two very good teams.

Erith Town: Foley, Melconian, Trueman, Goodchild (Ash 85), Mahal, Jayaguru, Clover, Chalker (Lawrence 61), Callender, Taylor, Maisey.

Unused subs: Miles, Nosike, Hope.

Goal scorers: Clover

Yellow cards: Jayaguru, Chalker

Red cards: Jayaguru

Phoenix Sports: Walker, Douglas, Cousins, Valler, Senedu (Goumou 78), Clarke, Hayes, Martin, Leppard, Kwayie (Bird 63), Evans.

Subs not used: King, Oshinowo, Aikon.

Goal scorers: Hayes pen (5), Evans (67), Leppard

Yellow cards: Cousins, Senedu

Referee: James Black

Assistants: Daniel Wyatt and Ben Wright

Attendance: 365