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Phoenix rise to the top
 Women's Football English County and other Leagues News - 3 Nov 2017
English County and other Leagues News - Phoenix rise to the top - 3 Nov 2017 - Women's Football NewsSutton Utd 0 AFC Phoenix Res 3
The top two teams in Greater London League Division Two South clashed at Sutton United FC and it was the visitors AFC Phoenix Reserves who claimed the three points and top spot after a 3-0 win.
The margin of defeat was harsh on the previously unbeaten hosts but Phoenix gave a fine team performance throughout. Goals either side of the break gave them a comfortable lead which was extended very late on with Sutton pressing hard for a breakthrough.
Sutton's Ella Bale had the first shot at goal but Olivia Bennett responded for Phoenix with an effort just wide before being denied by Sutton keeper Christine Ashley in a lively opening. Each side had spells of dominance with Bale shooting wide when well placed then Sutton skipper Jade Johnson floating a cross shot inches wide on 27 minutes. Lou Cooper had a shot from distance well saved but an injury to Sutton's Hannah Thomas led to a break in play and Phoenix finished the half well, taking the lead when Bennett broke clear to score on 45 minutes.
Sutton were denied an immediate equaliser by a fine save by Phoenix keeper Klaudia Kovacs at her near post and a good catch from the resulting corner as the half time whistle blew.
Things got even better for the visitors soon after the restart when Rebecca May finished off a fine move to double the lead. Only the crossbar from a Zoe Vernon-Jackson shot, then a fine save by Ashley from Ana De Pellegrin prevented Phoenix from taking complete control.
An unfortunate clash of heads in midfield led to another serious injury to a Sutton player and an ambulance attended, leading to a twenty minute break in play. The home team responded really strongly on the restart, playing their best football and penning Phoenix back for long periods. A series of chances were created but shots either flew wide, were blocked and Kovacs made two more fine saves from close range efforts as Sutton gave their all to fight back and preserve their proud league record.
With the Sutton line up continuing to push on, it was no surprise when Phoenix broke away in the sixteenth added minute and Ella Bonner showed good composure to beat the last defender and then keeper Ashley to give the final score a slightly unrealistic look.
With the use of the excellent facilities at Gander Green Lane, the production of a very impressive match programme and a seven match unbeaten run, Sutton United, in their first season in the Greater London League, have lots to be proud of. On this occasion however they met an AFC Phoenix Reserves team which rose to the challenge admirably.
Sutton Utd:
Christine Ashley, Alex White, Hannah Thomas, Lou Cooper, Rachel Bartholomeusz, Emily Stanley, Jodie Fernandes, Ella Bale, Jade Johnson, Tyreka Hart-Dolphy, Keisha-Marie Small. Subs: Katherine Briddock, Tamsin Potter, Daisy Warren.
AFC Phoenix Res:
Klaudia Kovacs, Mayia Mendonca, Kajsa Eklof, Elizabeth Kerins, Samantha Chapman, Mary Loonstra, Ella Bonner, Rebecca May, Olivia Bennett, Ana De Pellegrin, Lucinda Spring. Subs: Mariana Martins, Johanna Lind, Zoe Vernon-Jackson.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Ella Bale under pressure from Kasja Elkof
(middle) Olivia Bennett gets in a challenge on Emily Stanley
(bottom) Kasja Elkof tries to get past Keish Small

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