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The fixture computer can be so cruel. With the Winch’s Field faithful waiting for their first chance to watch Ben Smith’s new squad at home in competitive action we come up against Phoenix Sports who we have met four times in the Isthmian League and Bay have suffered four defeats with an aggregate score of 6-17! Time to start redressing the balance methinks. The 6-1 Kent Senior Cup victory at Sports last season was of little consolation. But this is a very different Herne Bay FC than last time out.
It was at the Phoenix Sports Ground that Herne Bay ended last season with a 2-5 defeat, which flattered the home side, in front of the incoming manager, Nick Gearing, who afterwards met the players. As we know, with the new regime coming in there was no place for Gearing in the new set up and he was replaced by Ben Smith, and most of the squad have moved onto new pastures. Whether the grass (or 3g) will be greener in their new ventures remains to be seen.
Phoenix Sports Football Club was formed in 1935 as St. Johns Welling, which later changed its name to Lakeside. They were members of the North Kent League until 1939. After the Second World War the club was renamed Phoenix, as it was seen as rising from the ashes of the previous clubs amid the destruction of the Blitz, and they played in the South East London Amateur League, the Kent Amateur League (now the Kent County Football League), the Spartan League and the Kent County League again. For the 2011/12 season the club was accepted into the Kent Invicta Football League for the league's inaugural season. In 2012, they became runners-up of the Kent Invicta League. In the 2012/13 season, they went one better, winning the Kent Invicta League championship, gaining promotion to the Southern Counties East Football League.
Phoenix finished up in 6th place in the first season and followed that up by winning the championship in 2014/15 winning promotion to the Isthmian League Division One North. Finishes of 14th in 2015/16 and 8th in 2016/17 were followed by the club transferring over to the Isthmian League Division One South for 2017/18 and with reorganisation of the football pyramid they were installed in the Isthmian League Division One South East for 2018/19. Last season they ended in ninth, seven places and eleven points above Herne Bay.
Of Bay’s seven first home fixtures in their Isthmian League tenure, four have been lost by a 1-0 margin (Tooting & Mitcham United, Guernsey, Lewes & Whyteleafe), one drawn 1-1 (Hastings United), with two wins, 1-0 (Hythe Town) and 3-1 (Sittingbourne).
Sports kicked-off their league campaign with a visit from Ashford United on Saturday and lost 1-2 to leave them 17th in the table. Lauris Chin scored their goal.
Ben Smith: “Phoenix will provide a different test than Whyteleafe, they have pacey wingers which we will need to keep quiet. We picked up no new injuries at Whyteleafe and several of those who were absent on Saturday will be available again although Stuart West remains a doubt.”