This was always going to be a tight one. Going into the game Phoenix sat in 8th place and were hosting a Corinthian-Casuals side sitting in 3rd. Earlier in the season Phoenix had got a surprise victory over today’s visitors and were hoping for more of the same again today. I was particularly looking forward to seeing how the attacking power of Phoenix would perform against the solid back four of the Casuals.
The first half was a tight affair and although they had very few clear cut chances Phoenix were the better of the two teams. Gil Carvalho was getting some success on the left wing for the hosts but ultimately he could not create any decent opportunities for his team-mates to take advantage of. The two main opportunites came when Carvalho had a tame effort saved by Danny Bracken and Jeff Duah-Kessie had a shot that went just wide. Corinthian-Casuals were a bit of a disappointment to be honest. I have seen most of the sides at the top of this League recently but from what I had seen in the first half they were not on the same level as their rivals. Fortunately they did improve in the second half.
The game came to life around the hour mark. Phoenix made a tactical change when Carvalho had been replaced by Danny Phillips, who played through the middle alongside Duah-Kessie with Kweku Ansah moving out wide. Almost immediately Phoenix could have took the lead. Duah-Kessie out-muscled the defence when running onto a long clearance only for his shot to be blocked by Bracken, Christie Pattison got onto the end of the rebound but also saw his effort blocked. This was to be the best chance of the game for Phoenix and they probably should have done better.
After that chance Casuals took over the control of the game and had a few chances. Ben Cheklit came close with a 35 yard effort that went inches over on 70 minutes, then ten minutes after came the major talking point of the game. Max Oldham had a left-footed shot from distance that Steve Phillips could only parry, Gabriel Odunaike was quickest to react and poked the ball home. However, he was judged to be offside when the original shot was struck and so his celebrations with the small unit of travelling fans were to be cut short.
As the game entered the final stages Corinthian-Casuals piled on the pressure and had efforts from Uzun, McAllister and Dillon all go close so the final whistle was probably a welcome sound to those involved with Phoenix. Despite that late onslaught the draw was probably a fair result due to home sides stronger first hour or so. The attacking four had not quite delivered what I was hoping to see from them and if I was to pick a Phoenix Man Of The Match it would be Tony Robinson who started in Midfield before filling in at centre-back nearer the end.
Overall Phoenix Sports v Corinthain-Casuals had looked a close one on paper before the game and it played even closer on the grass at The Mayplace.
Next up for Phoenix is the very short trip to VCD Athletic on New Years Day, a game that has to be one of the shortest away trips in all of football. Now on paper, that one looks to be a close one, but then games are not played on paper are they?