Zebras earn their stripes in Charity Cup
Robin Hood 0 PHC Zebras 1
PHC Zebras started the new football season off with a bang, after edging Robin Hood 1-0 in an entertaining Charity Cup contest at Goose Gosling Field on Sunday.
Just when it seemed as though it would take a penalty shoot-out to separate last season’s two top teams, Cecoy Robinson popped up with a late winner.
His goal earned the FA Cup holders their first win in the traditional season opener in eight years and sixth overall to move to within one of the record shared by North Village and Dandy Town.
The officials decided that both halves would have a water break after 30 minutes because of the hot conditions
“We started a little slow today,” Robinson, the PHC captain, said. “I think everyone is trying to get used to the heat and that heat is nothing to play with. After the water break in the 30th minute we started to get back into the game, get that first breeze out and try and push on from there.
“This is just a stepping stone and was like a preseason game for us. We are still getting ready for the league and obviously our first Dudley Eve game is next weekend so this is just a warm-up to get the season going.”
Hood, the Premier Division champions, dominated the early exchanges.
However, they were unable to convert possession into goals, with former Zebras striker Antwan Russell heading a Lejuan Simmons cross over from six yards and an inviting centre from Shakir Smith, another former PHC player, rolled untouched across the goalmouth.
Hood were also denied when Daren Usher, the PHC right back, got just enough boot on to a Simmons corner to deflect the ball away from the lurking Russell at the far post.
These missed opportunities came back to haunt Hood as PHC shifted through the gears after the first water break, began to assert themselves and grasped the momentum.
After soaking up enormous pressure, the Zebras came close to opening the scoring just before the half, with Nathan Peskett, the Hood goalkeeper, saving Usher’s initial angled blast and then the rebound from the boot of Robinson.
Hood dodged a bullet after PHC’s confident appeal for a penalty after Casey Castle, the Zebras winger, was bundled over in the area by Jaylon Bather, the Hood centre back, fell on deaf ears.
With Cory Booth, one of two Zebras players making their debut in top-flight football, Marco Warren and Tre Ming pulling the strings in midfield, PHC continued their dominance after the break.
Castle was a constant threat as PHC created pockets of space in the attacking third, the winger testing Peskett with two efforts and just failing to get his head to Robinson’s cross at the far post.
Peskett also had to be at his best to save a thunderous half-volley from Na’eem Griffith, the PHC centre back, from a set-piece.
At the other end, Simmons forced Quinaceo Hunt, the PHC goalkeeper, into making his first save of the match. Hunt also had to race off his line to gather the ball from the Hood captain’s boot as he charged towards goal.
The goal that PHC’s dominance warranted finally arrived with Robinson delivering the knockout punch.
Warren controlled a high cross from Dunte Albouy, dribbled into the box and with two defenders either side of him cleverly back-heeled for Robinson, who calmly drove in the winner without breaking stride.
Hood threatened late with debutant Dante Leverock, the Bermuda defender, drawing a fine diving save from Hunt.
“First half I thought we were pretty sharp,” said John Barry Nusum, who replaced Kyle Lightbourne as Hood coach this summer. “We got a few chances we didn’t score and if you don’t score you keep your opponent involved.”
Robin Hood (4-3-3): N Peskett - S Smith, J Bather, D Leverock, J Pereira (sub: E Outerbridge, 67) - C Ryan, C Caisey (sub:Z Burgess, 67), D Andrade (sub:L Symonds, 62) - L Simons, M Burchall, A Russell. Booked: Simmons. Substitutes not used: J Titterton, N Figureido
PHC (4-3-3): Q Hunt - K Abraham, M Waldron, N Griffith, D Usher - C Booth, T Ming, M Warren - C Castle (sub:J Iris, 60), C Robinson (sub:K Matthie, 83), O Tucker (sub:D Albouy, 54). Substitutes not used: S Trott, M Simmons, D Lightbourne, K Bean.
Referee: G Swainson