Wardens start season with victory at Coventry Phoenix

By James Smith

21st Aug 2023 | Football


Kenilworth Wardens sit second in the Coventry Alliance Premier division following their opening day victory (image via Alex Waters)
Kenilworth Wardens sit second in the Coventry Alliance Premier division following their opening day victory (image via Alex Waters)

Wardens started the 2023/24 season with a hard fought 3-2 win against Coventry Phoenix.

The hosts started well, pressing high and keeping the ball in Wardens' half.

However against the run of play Kenilworth took the lead on 10 minutes from a corner.

A minute after James Brewitt turned an Eamonn Richards corner onto the crossbar, James Proctor's inswinging set piece was met powerfully by captain Andy Legg to go into the back of the net.

Despite going ahead though, Wardens continued to be kept in their own half and nearly found themselves level only for the woodwork to twice keep Phoenix out.

Keeper Andy Whitehouse also made a string of excellent saves to keep Kenilworth's noses in front until on 35 minutes Blake Kassar - who had already missed a couple of excellent chances - levelled for the hosts, shooting in off the post from a tight angle.

Phoenix continued to dominate and were unfortunate to only be level at the break.

Despite the Coventry outfit continuing to dominate, Wardens got more into the game due to the tireless running of Proctor and substitutes Dan Twigger and Isaac Bloomer.

Against the run of play Wardens retook the lead of 60 minutes. A long goal kick from Andy Whitehouse was battled for in the Phoenix box by Guy Pearson who out-muscled his defender before laying to Twigger who smashed into the bottom corner.

Wardens could have added to their lead on 70 minutes when a high press forced an error from Phoenix leaving Proctor an open goal 30 yards out, but his shot went narrowly over the bar.

On 82 minutes Wardens continued to defend when a trademark tackle from the excellent Alex Waters won the ball on the edge of the box.

His long ball forward was flicked on by substitute Adam Hnat to Dave Buckley. Buckley out paced two Phoenix defenders, went around the keeper to pass into an empty net for his first competitive goal in a Wardens shirt.

Immediately Phoenix pulled a goal back when a brilliant through ball was met by the number eight who turned his full back before passing home.

Wardens had to withstand heavy pressure in the last 10 minutes and were again In debited to Whitehouse for a string of excellent saves.

"Coventry Phoenix are the best side I've played in the premier division, they've recruited really well and have some truly excellent players," Richards said after the game.

"We were somewhat fortunate to take the three points but we made our own luck with how hard we worked and how organized and disciplined we were throughout the game.

"Our summer signings have made a big impact, Jamie Whitehouse coming in as assistant made the match day a lot more professional and has been brilliant.

"The additions of Matt Wright, James Proctor and Dave Buckley are massive. Proctor and Wright were great today and Buckley is the best striker in the league and only needs half a chance to score and he did that today.

"Having a really strong bench made us win today, our depth and quality of our squad is brilliant and the attitude of the lads so far has been excellent."

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