Zebras victorious in final repeat
PHC Zebras 2 Devonshire Cougars 0
PHC Zebras advanced to the Dudley Eve Trophy semi-finals at the expense of champions Devonshire Cougars with an impressive victory at Bernard Park yesterday in a repeat of last season’s final.
Zebras led 1-0 at half-time through Casey Castle’s sublime strike, before fellow forward Marco Warren put the game to bed with an equally superb late finish that killed off a spirited second-half rally by Cougars.
“This wasn’t about revenge,” said Scott Morton, the PHC head coach, alluding to last season’s defeat by Cougars in the final. “This was just the next match and pulling our way through.
“We were going through the processes that we like to implement in games; staying in control and just seeing the game through with each player handling their responsibilities.
“Cougars pushed us a bit more in the second half and I appreciated that because it allows me to see the make-up of my team and individuals.”
The Zebras were deserving winners as they defended superbly, kept their shape and did a better job than their rivals of putting away their chances in the final third of the pitch.
The result sent PHC through to the semi-final with a game to spare against Boulevard Blazers in their final group B match and left Cougars’ title defence hanging by a thread.
Cougars were held to a 1-1 draw in their opening group match against Boulevard and they must now rely on the Zebras to beat the Blazers by at least three goals in order to pip the latter team on goal difference. A draw against PHC would be enough to send Boulevard through to the last four.
The Zebras, who made two changes to their squad from the one that edged Robin Hood 2-1 in the Charity Cup in their previous outing, took the match to their opponents from the opening kick-off and after building up a head of steam went ahead through Castle’s neat finish in the box.
The forward controlled Kadeem Abraham’s cross on his chest and his volley on the turn crept inside of Kisohi Trott’s near post to give the Zebras the deserved lead.
PHC controlled the opening stanza but were unable to convert possession into goals.
Zebras goalkeeper Quinaceo Hunt, who kept a second straight clean sheet, probably never had it so easy before as he was never tested in the first half by the goal-shy Cougars.
Cougars eventually pulled their socks up in the second half and grew in confidence with each attacking raid into Zebras territory only to be let down by poor finishing which ultimately took its toll.
The closest Cougars came to scoring was when Jamain Simmons’ goal-bound header was cleared off the line by Marquel Waldron, the PHC centre back, on a counterattack straight down the middle.
After absorbing a bit of pressure, PHC regained the momentum and pulled further away when the pint-sized Warren latched onto Cecoy Robinson’s pass, rounded the advancing Trott and slotted into the empty net.
The industrious Tre Ming, the PHC midfielder, put in another solid shift and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet when he got behind the Cougars defence but chipped just wide of the far post with Trott beaten.
PHC, who were without key centre back Na’eem Griffith yesterday, have yet to concede in two outings so far this term.
“Na’eem is off island and so it’s good that the conveyor belt at PHC is continuing because the three players that came on are still young enough to play in the Under-17 team,” Morton said.
“A key component to our game that we stress is if we are not getting goalscoring opportunities then we try and slow down the opponent, be patient and nullify any of their attacking options.”
Castle 22, Warren 76
PHC Zebras (4-5-1): Q Hunt — K Abraham (sub: J Hassell, 83min), R DeShields, M Waldron, D Usher — C Robinson, T Ming, M Warren, C Castle, K Bean (sub: J Iris, 65) — O Tucker (sub: M Dill, 72). Booked: Hunt, Robinson. Substitutes not used: S Trott, M Lambe, D Lightbourne, M Simmons
Devonshire Cougars (4-5-1): K Trott — Z Simmons (sub: S Jones, 81), Zeko White, Zekiro White, J Butterfield — N Carmichael (sub: J Simmons, 23), I Mallory, C Maybury, C Brangman, M Battersbee — J Mallory (sub: M Steede, 75). Booked: Zekiro White, Maybury. Substitutes not used: C Hardtman, J Wade, E Parsons, N Simmons
Referee: G Swainson