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Phoenix Sports 3-1 Sheppey United
Phoenix Sports 3-1 Sheppey United

Despite going behind, Phoenix Sports claimed the honours in an entertaining game against Sheppey United to ease their relegation fears.

They started strongly and after a Ryan Hayes free kick was knocked down, talisman Tashi-Jay Kwayie shot wide. The Sports’ striker had another opportunity soon after when sent through by Denzelle Olopade but Sheppey goalkeeper, Aiden Prall, came out quickly and made a good save with his legs.

Once they had settled, the visitors started to create opportunities and superb play on the wing by James Bessey-Saldanha and a clever pass inside sent Jerson Dos Santos clear on goal. Just as Prall had done earlier, Phoenix goalkeeper Andy Walker came out smartly and blocked Dos Santos’ effort with his legs. Jacob Lambert then crossed to Dos Santos but his header was claimed comfortably by Walker.

More trickery by Bessey-Saldanha allowed him to get to the bye-line and his clipped cross to the far post looked perfect for Dos Santos to head home but Ross Craig managed to get just high enough to glance it away. Lambert then shot over from a great position before Danny Leonard drilled an effort just wide.

Just after the half hour mark the visitors went ahead. Trying to play out from the back, Phoenix got caught in possession and Dos Santos found Leonard who took his time to compose himself before clipping it home.

Looking for a quick response, Hayes sliced his shot wide before the hosts levelled six minutes after going behind. A low Hayes corner found its way to the back post and Jola Lahan finished from close range.

Two minutes later, the game was turned on its head when Phoenix went ahead. Palace Francis cut in from the left wing and arrowed an unstoppable effort inside the far post.

After the half time break, the Sports had a great chance to extend their lead when Dexter Peter went on a powerful run and laid it off to Gael Kileba who blasted wide of the near post before the visitors had an even better opportunity. Dos Santos was tripped in the penalty area and Richard Hamill stepped up. Walker used his experience to read his intentions and he made a diving save.

Another low Hayes corner appeared to evade everyone and came out off the far post before Bessey-Saldanha’s shot beat Walker but not Peter who cleared off the line.

James Taylor shot wide for Sheppey before Olopade hit an effort beyond the far post. Taylor, again, fired wide from distance then Phoenix substitute Temi Oladejo did likewise. Dos Santos was sent through down the right hand side as the game became stretched, only to shoot into the side netting.

In the final of the six additional minutes, the Sports added a third to round off the afternoon. Joe Thomas showed determination to hold off his man and square allowing Oladejo to charge through and slam it home. 

As a result, Phoenix moved seven points clear of the drop zone while Sheppey are in a mid-table spot with no fear of relegation or hopes of reaching the play-offs.

Phoenix Sports: Walker, Douglas, Craig, Olopade, Peter, Lahan, Kileba, Hayes (Singh 71), Kwayie (Thomas 86), Leppard, Francis (Oladejo 79). Subs not used: Mazzone, Duncanson.

Goal scorers: Lahan (37), Francis (39), Oladejo (90+6)

Yellow cards: None

Sheppey United: Prall, Djallo, Morgan (Durowoju 78), Dainkeh (Taylor 66), Majoyegbe, Hamill, Leonard, Wilkins, Dos Santos, Lambert (Bradshaw 66), Bessey-Saldanha. Unused subs: Ganiwa, Taiwo-Pratt.

Goal scorers: Leonard (31)

Yellow cards: Taylor

Referee: Ross Murphy

Assistants: George Barker and Gary Baker

Attendance: 150