A strong Reserves side took to the field at the Mayplace in attempt to get the points that would close the gap on the rest of the teams in the Division stacked above them. To do that they would need to beat an Erith & Belvedere side that had already beaten them in the reverse fixture back in August and were looking for the points that would take them into the top three in the table.
The visitors started strongly and almost took the lead in the first ten minutes but were denied by both, Martin Grant in the Phoenix goal, and on one occassion the crossbar, which got clipped by an effort from Guyliano Mpungi.
They would rue those missed chances as the hosts took the lead soon after. Ashley Probets whipped his corner in for Jack Barry to head home at the far post. The goal being a copy of many scored by Phoenix this season already. Easy to see not easy to stop I guess. 1-0
The lead could easily have been doubled soon after but Kyren Mundle-Smith was wasteful with his chance when through one-on-one with the keeper. This was to be repeated a few times throughout the game.
Another man that should have got on the scoresheet a few times was Mpungi, for the Deres, but everytime he had a half chance he would either miss the target or bring a save from the impressive Martin Grant.
Phoenix got the second goal of the game just after the half hour mark. Kenny Aileru found himself with time on the right hand side of the box and beautifully curled the ball past the keeper into the far corner. A nice finish from Kenny for a deserved second. 2-0
Two became three shortly after and Mundle-Smith was to make no mistake this time. Receiving the ball just outside the box, he was able to turn and place his left-footed effort past the diving keeper. 3-0
With the visitors frustrated to be losing a game they were probably expecting to win they were losing composure and and could easily have been further behind had Mundle-Smith been able to add to his solitary goal when given the many chances that he had. We got to the break with the three-goal difference between the sides.
Erith & Belvedere made a good start to the second half and again Mpungi should have done better when given the opportunity to get his side back into the game. On the whole though, this half and indeed the match was dictated by whatever pace Phoenix wanted to inject into it. OlIver Andrews was looking great in the centre next to Zak Bryon and the four attacking players ahead of them were taking it in turns to drive at the Erith defence.
On 55 minutes the visitors had a chance to get back in the game. After a foul on the edge of the box the referee pointed to the spot giving Harry Harding the chance to get his 10th League goal of the campaign. Unfortunately for the deadly attacker Martin Grant was more than a match on this occassion and dived low to his right to pull off a great save. Still 3-0!
Around the hour mark Phoenix made them pay for that miss. Kenny Aileru provided some good work down the right flank before pulling the ball back to Zak Bryon. The midfielder hit it first time from 25 yards out and saw it float perfectly over the keeper, just under the bar, and into the back of the net. The goal of the game for sure and the one that put this match to bed as a contest. 4-0
This signalled the opportunity for some substitutions and changes and it was good to see Josh Jackson, among others, get a run out after recent injury problems.
With Phoenix still commiting to scoring more than than the four put away already gaps were left at the back which the Deres exploited in the 74th minute. A long ball over the top left Harry Harding clear through on goal. The loud appeals for offisde were ignored leaving Harding to bear down on Grant before putting the ball past him for an Erith goal. 4-1
Phoenix were happy just to see the game out now, take the points and move on. Erith & Belvedere however were frustrated with how they had been turned over here though and certain people on and off the field could not hide these frustrations. Some supporters had turned up expecting a goal fest and three points. They got that, but the goals and points didn't go to their team. They had wanted to play against the under 18 side that they had beaten in week one. They wanted to get the points that moved them up to third place. They wanted to play against the side that had the aim of producing footballers, not producing results. They wanted to play against a team that had all the disadvantages of being a reserve side and not against a team that was benefiting from having a bigger brother at the same school.
Within the Deres team is plenty of quality and experience. Players like Javlon Campbell, Chan Quan and especially Harry Harding, have played at far higher levels than this. Nobody was moaning that they were on the field. But plenty were moaning that the average age of the Phoenix squad was over 20 for the first time this term. Chief cheerleader for the sour grapes brigade was Rob Curtis who was in the bar earlier than the rest of his side due to leaving the pitch before the final whistle. To be fair on him he was having a decent game and was constantly on at his side throughout the match to not let their heads drop, even as the game had long gone away from them. But with a couple of minutes his resolve disappeared. Attacking a corner he ended on the floor and began barracking the referee for missing what he thought was a clear elbow to his face. His protestations earned him a yellow card. A minute later, and still angry, he kicked out at Liam Murray, off the ball, sending him flying to the ground. An awful foul that deservedly saw him receive a straight red. It meant the game drew to a close on a sour note and was quite an embarrassing situation for someone who has been around long enough to not behave in this manner. He only made it worse by complaining deep into the night about the 'elbow' incident aswell as the strength of side chosen by Phoenix to represent them on the field. He didn't seem to bring up his kick-out at a 17 year-old kid though. A few of his teammates apologised on his behalf so even they were not impressed by his actions at the end of the game.
FULL TIME - PHOENIX SPORTS RESERVES 4-1 ERITH & BELVEDERE
Red card incident aside it was a good game that deservedly went the way of the home side. There could easily have been more goals but both keepers played well and Mpungi and Mundle-Smith were not as clinical as they should have been. Although still bottom of the table, Phoenix are now just a win away from being several places higher and hopefully those points are gained once we have got past the Cup game against Stonewall on Saturday.
Updated 10:59 - 6 Dec 2018 by Dean Sawyer