Kent Youth League – U16 Division North
Cray Wanderers U16s 1
Phoenix Sports U16s 1
The Kent Youth League season got under way with a cracking start to the U16s North Division with Champions Cray Wanderers taking on runners up Phoenix Sports at John Roan Playing Fields.
There was little to choose between the teams in the league with just one point deciding the title in the end in the Wands favour and from the evidence of this opening match the two sides will be difficul to separate this time around.
The game was full of commitment and intensity if a little low on chances but both sides defended very well. The game was punctuated with a few stoppages which didn’t help the flow but on the balance of the match a draw was the right result.
Sean Foley’s Cray side started the game a little nervy and Phoenix began the game well and almost scored in the opening couple of minutes when a free kick was floated into the area and the no 11 rose highest to plant a header over the bar. Then another free kick was awarded somewhat harshly just outside the area and effort from the no 11 hit the wall.
The Wands first semblance of threat came when from a free kick out on the left, Femi Abatan’s ball into the area was punched away by the Phoenix keeper under pressure from Jessie Bonishel.
Phoenix almost went in front when a ball over the top from the no 10 led to a bit of confusion at the back and Bonishel turned the ball past his own keeper for a corner. From the corner, the no 4 played the ball to the near post and was flicked wide by the no 12. Then from another corner the no 2 headed over.
Cray though took the lead slightly against the run of play in the 12th minute. From a throw in out on the right of the area from Kevin Yeboah into the area was flicked on and in a crowded goalmouth Abatan did well to hit a first time shot into the net.
From here up to half time Cray had a semblance of control of the game with the game becoming rather bitty with stoppages.
Before half time Cray looked to add to their lead and Leslie Ariku made a good run forward and hit a shot from 20 yards which went just wide of the left post.
Then an effort from Max Gayle was deflected and claimed by the keeper but in terms of goal attempts that was really it for the first half with Cray happy to go in at the break a goal to the good.
Half Time: 1-0
The second half had a bit more verve and Phoenix came out with a bit of urgency looking to get back on terms and a very good move starting down the left the ball was switched to the right and the cross from the no 6 was met by the no 12 who sent a shot just over the bar.
That was a bit of a let off and in the 47th minute Phoenix did draw level after Cray lost possession outside the area and the no 12 nipped in to clip a low shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
Phoenix seemed to have their tails up after this and a free kick from the no 3 was played into the area and Bobby Pavoux did well to punch the ball away.
Cray almost got back in front and were denied by very brave goalkeeping when Gayle slipped a superb ball through to Kola Salami but the keeper rushed off his line to come and smother the ball before Kola could get a shot in.
For Phoenix the no 12 was put through again but slightly overran the ball and drifted behind. Then the no 3 who had a very good game for Phoenix hit a sweet strike from distance which Pavoux got down well to save.
From another free kick the no 10 floated a shot over the bar and then a shot on the turn from the no 3 was claimedby Pavoux.
Perhaps Cray’s best chance of the second half came when Atta Gyedu showed good strength to muscle his way into the penalty area but the no 17 did well to get a tackle in and turn the ball behind for a corner. From the corner Abatan’s ball into the area led to a bit of consternation and the keeper had to push the ball away under pressure from Theo Foley.
Then from a patient build up the ball came to William Amis who set up Gayle for a shot which took a slight deflection and into the arms of the keeper.
Both teams sought a winner with the last opportunity falling to Phoenix with the no 18 firing over the top but the game had had a look of a draw about it for some time and a draw was the right outcome at the end of the day.
Cray Wanderers: Bobby Pavoux, Tobi Fashola, Kasey Bekoe (Capt.), Jessie Bonishel, William Amis, Max Gayle, Theo Foley, Femi Abatan, Kevin Yeboet, Leslie Ariku, Kola Salami: Subs: Taku Zhanghaza, Atta Gyedu, Dylan Gilbert, Rhys Carew, Josh Richmond.
We have two new teams starting out in the Kent Youth League this season. The U13s got off to a winning start to their Central Division campaign with a 2-1 win at Chatham Town. Charlie McPherson scored an early goal to give Cray the lead before Chatham levelled. There was late drama however as with the last kick of the game, Henry Philips grabbed the winner for the Wands.
Cray Wanderers U14s started their league campaign with an away game to 2017/18 quadruple winners Glebe. Cray lost the match 0-5, however this doesn’t show a true reflection on the game. Cray played some very good football despite Glebe deservedly winning the game and had a few good chances themselves but just weren’t as clinical as Glebe. The match was a very good advert for the league and both sets of players, coaches and parents were absolutely superb so great credit to them.
The Selkent League returns next Sunday with nine more Cray Wanderers clubs starting their seasons.