AFC Phoenix 0-3 Newark Town: Blues four points clear with three-goal win at Phoenix
Newark Town manager Nathan Arnold said he wanted to see his side excel under pressure, and the Blues did exactly that as they held their nerve to win 3-0 at AFC Phoenix.
Town overcame determined opposition as well as a heavy pitch to extend their lead at the top of the CMFL Premier North division to four points.
Arnold gave a debut to former Clifton midfielder Chanju Mphande while the former Football League forward led the line himself. Jonny Wiles also returned after missing the last two games.
Newark had by far the better of the early exchanges, Arnold having a shot pushed round the post by ‘keeper Dillon Thorpe, who then produced an acrobatic save to turn away a goal-bound effort from the same player.
Town went close again when a long ball from Mason Rhiney took a huge bounce which almost caught out the ‘keeper.
As Phoenix retaliated, a Chris Hopkins shot was deflected for a corner and George Armitage’s cross was hit high and wide by Danny Briggs.
As half-time approached Thorpe pulled off another outstanding save from Arnold following a Wiles free-kick.
Town continued to press after the interval, this time it was Mphande and Rhiney combining to allow Wiles to whip a low ball across the area which failed to find a finish.
With the breakthrough yet to come, the visitors rang the changes as Jackson Buckthorp and Lewis Chambers replaced Ben Newman and Abu Wadada.
The pressure finally told in the 65th minute, Rhys Lewis capping an excellent all-round performance as he out-jumped the Phoenix defence to head home Mphande’s right-wing corner.
Phoenix threatened briefly, Harry Haywood at full stretch to keep out Hopkins’ header.
Chambers had added a fresh impetus to the Blues’ forward play, putting Arnold clear, his shot needing a last-ditch clearance off the line.
With 81 minutes played Wiles sent over a long cross which Chambers met with a looping header that beat Thorpe’s despairing dive.
Three minutes later the same combination resulted in a diving header from Chambers which sealed the points.
Wiles almost created a fourth, another pinpoint cross being headed against the bar by James Gardner.
Town are on their travels again on Saturday. They face Doncaster-based AFC Bentley (2pm kick off).
In the Macron Store Nottingham Division One North, a crowd of 135 turned out to watch Thorne Colliery Development beat Bottesford Town Development 7-0 thanks to a Lee Holmes hat-trick, two fron George Cowen and one apiece for Kirk Frost and Jack Daniels.
League leaders Bessacarr were 4-0 winners at Newark Town Development — Jordan Wilkinson (two), Liam Cooper and Kam Latif with the goals.
Town’s development side remain bottom of the division, however, they turn attentions to the cup this Saturday as they host Ballers (3pm kick off).