Sunday, 13 September 2015

Rooks In Bad Endgame Position as Phoenix Win, Mate

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 12 September 2015 at The Mayplace Ground
Phoenix Sports 2 Lewes 0
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round
Ground 579, and I am here because I need to be having pre-dinner drinks in the Isle of Dogs at 6.15pm.  I am so grateful to Phoenix for being in the right place at the right time.  Not strictly random, I admit.
Pre-match preparation
Phoenix needed to win an “away” replay to beat Guernsey in the last round, their point of entry as a Step 4 Isthmian D1 North team.  That replay was held at Lewes as it happens.  Maybe a replay here could mean a team playing two away FA Cup ties at the same ground in different rounds.  Would that be a first?  I suspect not, but I am not sure.  They are in mid-table for their division.  (Note: academic now anyway!)

Lewes, of the Isthmian Premier, enter the competition at this point.  They have had an indifferent start to the season but recorded their first win earlier this week, a 4-0 thumping of 10-man Hampton & Richmond.
This match in one sentence
Phoenix fully deserved their half-time lead and were able to add a late second as Lewes were pressing.
So what?
£3000 into the Phoenix coffers and the proverbial name in the hat for the next round.
The drama unfolds
There was only one entry on my notepad after a largely soporific first quarter in the sunshine.  Lewes keeper Dan Hutchings made an excellent save after good combination play from George King and Adem Ramadan down the Phoenix left.  My theory is that the slow start was due to the Robbie Williams “Phoenix from the Flames” dirge that accompanies the players onto the field.  Spend some of the win money on a Basement Jaxx remix or something, guys.  Or go for the instrumental bridge from the Wishbone Ash song from the 70s. Trust me.

I correctly recognised @theballisround this time after blanking him at Emley and had an interesting chat as Hutchings continued to get an early grip on the man-of-the-match award with three timely blocks in quick succession.  I took a walk around the edge and noted that “Lewes will be happy to still be 0-0 at half-time” just in time for the opening goal.  It was no more than Phoenix deserved, as finally they found the net.  Ricky Freeman beat his man on the right of the area and set up Jason Goodchild for a close-range glancing header at the near post.  Lewes had not yet offered much by way of attacking threat.  1-0 after 40 mins and at HT

Freeman about to be of assistance for the opening goal
I messed up the chance to record a flying “save for the cameras” by Phoenix stopper Steve Phillips as Lewes started the second half brightly.  However, Phoenix reasserted themselves and over an hour had gone by before Phillips was seriously tested, making another excellent save.  In the meantime Phoenix had a second disallowed for offside.  Lewes kept pressing and committing players forward.  They had a couple of near misses from headers and failed to make best use of a few set pieces.

Freeman sealed the win with another strong run down the right and a neat finish from a narrow angle.  Phoenix managed to hold on easily enough.  2-0 after 79 mins and at FT
Ground Pix
This is one of those grounds that makes a good first impression.  The place looks loved and cared-for.  The club branding is everywhere, the clubhouse is good, and the club’s youngsters were given some attention.  I hadn’t realised how close they are to VCD, and cheers from their match occasionally drifted over on the breeze.  The VCD floodlights are visible over the nearby rooftops (see assist photo above).  They were drawing 1-1 with Didcot in the same competition!

Match Pix

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats

Blue gets a win and clean sheet, beating Purple.  Updated table at the end of the month.  Red is rarely seen but currently leads on points-per-game with Green in the lead for the mainstream colours.
What Next?
I enter a period of last-minute decisions and missed hopping weeks as the school term gathers momentum.  Follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details and announcements!  Occasional nostalgia as I take a look back at how the blog has developed and changed over five years.  One thing that hasn't changed is the appallingly contrived wordplay in the blogpost titles.

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