KING CROWNS TOWN WIN
By David Hollingsbee
A BUMPER crowd witnessed the Lilywhites stun Phoenix Sports with a 90th minute winner to seal victory in a five-goal thriller.
A game that ebbed and flowed, Faversham Town twice took the lead only to be pegged back. But a late double substitution proved decisive as Town grabbed a dramatic late victory.
In difficult, wet conditions, the early exchanges are tentative as both sides struggle to penetrate.
Faversham come closest after 5 minutes. Oliver Lee's long high ball is headed on by Carl Rook into the path of Harry Stannard whose lofted strike is easy pickings for Steve Phillips in the Phoenix Sports goal. But importantly an early sighter for Stannard.
On 17 minutes, the breakthrough. Danny Walder takes a free-kick from the right that travels unhindered all the way through to Stannard on the left hand side of the area and Stannard clips a glorious curling strike into the far top right hand corner. Phillips can only watch it go past him as
it hits the net. (1-0 after 17 minutes).
The goal seems to energise Town and the Lilywhites take control. Phoenix Sports are afforded little time on the ball as Town press.
A corner is forced. Walder rolls a short ball for Renford Tenyue whose inswinging ball towards the back post is headed back into the area by Rook. Loud appeals for hand-ball from the pitch and the crowd. Momentarily, the referee seems to point to the spot but then signals for a corner.
Walder's corner is cleared, but only as far as Tenyue who returns for Walder. The cross is well claimed by Phillips.
Rook is sent sprawling to the floor. From 25 yards, Walder's low strike is sneaking inside the left hand post, but at full-stretch the Phoenix Sports keeper punches it clear for a throw-in.
But with the smart money seemingly on Town increasing their lead, Phoenix Sports ensure the bookies win again.
Ashley Probets' inswinging corner from the right is punched clear by Simon Overland. Back it comes, a shot is charged down. But still it's not fully cleared and Phoenix Sports retain possession. Again the ball is in the Town area, a succession of challenges and half-challenges are unsuccessful as the ball is poked into the path of an unaccompanied Jack Hopkins who completes the simple task of tapping home into the unguarded Faversham Town net. (1-1 after 37 minutes).
And now the pendulum swings fully in favour of Phoenix Sports.
Straight from the kick-off, Kweku Ansah unleashes a 30 yarder that's destined for the Town net. As it's about to dip under the bar and in, Overland dives, stretches and gets a strong hand to divert it over. A stunning save from the very top drawer. Vital save.
Jeff Duah-Kessie is allowed to run through the heart of the Town defence. From 20 yards, the low shot has Overland scrambling to his left as it narrowly goes wide of the right hand post.
Half-time comes at a good time for Town.
1-1 at H-T.
Ashley Miller and Chris Barnard exchange passes down the right, Miller gets to the byline and delivers an inviting cross. With Stannard shaping for the spectacular volley, a defender's head spoils the spectacle.
But Phoenix Sports soon regain the momentum they had before the end of the first half.
Dan Carrington breaks down the right and is barged off the ball. The referee sees it differently and awards Phoenix Sports the free-kick. A quick break and Onoriode Ogboe is in possession on Town's 18 yard line. Ogboe turns inside and outside to make room for the shot-but it's weak and easy pickings for Overland.
Christie Pattison, a persistent thorn in the Town defence, swings a ball from the left into the Town area. Daniel Young stabs it goalwards from point blank range and Overland makes a fine reflex block.
A cross from the right into the area and a deceptive drag back towards goal by Ogboe is pounced on by Overland.
And then Phoenix Sports' best chance to take the lead. Duah-Kessie is released and from the 18 yards with the goal at his mercy, flashes a shot past the angle. Glorious chance.
And as in the first-half, the team on top concedes.
Good work involving Barnard and Miller works the ball into the area, an awkward deflection off a defender causes the keeper to come off his line. Rook challenges for the ball which ricochets off the keeper into the path of Stannard who unerringly fires home from 12 yards. (2-1 after 59 minutes).
The Lilywhites now assume the ascendancy.
Barnard wins possession for Town on the right touchline and finds Walder who delivers into the area. Stannard, controls, turns and shoots. But straight into the midriff of Phillips.
Stannard picks up possession and heads for the area and is brought down within a crowd of Phoenix Sports defenders. Walder's free-kick has Phillips scrambling to his right, but it bounces just the wrong side of the post.
Town continue to attack. Tenyue delivers a cross from the left. Just too high for Stannard who can't get over it and the header clears the crossbar.
Again Town attack down the left. Tenyue in possession finds Miller who tees up Stannard but the shot flies over. Clinical incisive move.
But the recurring pattern of the game repeats. The team on top concedes.
A quick break from Phoenix Sports and Duah-Kessie's shot brings a sharp save from Overland. Corner. From the right, a high looping cross to the back post isn't cleared and from close range Hopkins stabs home from to claim his second of the game. (2-2 after 71 minutes).
With the match up to this point having clearly defined periods of dominance for each team. At 2-2 it becomes end to end.
A corner for Phoenix Sports. Town survive a nerve-jangling goalmouth scramble.
Miller breaks down the right for Town and finds Rook who shoots from 18 yards. Straight into the midriff of Phillips.
At the other end Overland saves at his near post from Duah-Kessie. From the corner Overland watches Pattison's strike arrow over the bar.
With seven minutes to go and all square, Town make an attacking double substitution. Miller and Barnard make way for Liam King and Luke Griffiths.
With the clock showing 90, Stannard has to juggle to bring the ball under control outside of the Phoenix Sports area and lays off for Griffiths. Griffiths' pile driver of a strike is too hot to handle for Phillips who spills. King reacts quickest, loses his defender and steers the loose ball home from inside the six yards area. Cool as you like. (3-2 after 90 minutes).
3-2 at F-T.