PHC carry burden of history on their shoulders
Dandy Town Hornets, Devonshire Cougars, Robin Hood and PHC Zebras will be the favourites to advance in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-finals.
Hood have never reached the final of the competition but the other three teams have eighteen victories between them, including a record ten for PHC Zebras and five by Town, the champions, who are chasing a third straight title.
PHC have only won the cup twice (1992 and 2008) since their eighth title back in 1980, as a shift has seen the likes of Boulevard, Town and Cougars all enjoy success in the last 20 years.
Even so there is a proud cup history at the club, going back to an era when cup finals at the National Stadium drew thousands for the season finale.
“The players will know that they sit on the shoulders of some good players and good coaches and that the FA Cup is something that is special,” said Mark Wade, the PHC coach. “We’re preparing for the match just like we would prepare for any other match and it’s an opportunity for the players to add to PHC’s history.
“It’s their time now and an opportunity to put their names on the FA Cup.”
PHC should get the better of their neighbours Southampton Rangers in the second of a double-header at PHC Field. Rangers, without suspended goalkeeper Jason Smith, have been leaking goals lately, conceding five to Hood last weekend in the league.
Smith will serve the last of his six-match ban on Sunday, returning just in time next weekend to boost their survival bid and strengthen a defence that has conceded a league high 36 goals in 12 games.
The fact that it is a derby match should add some extra spice to the tie. “I can’t deny that, yes it adds some bragging rights for the community but we have to do the job on the day and that’s what we’re focusing on,” Wade said.
PHC will have Julian Carpenter back after serving a one-match ban while defender Johnny Ball, who went off injured last weekend against Town, should have recovered from his knock.
Town won the cup for the first time in 1987, Boulevard in 1991 — the first of their five titles — and Cougars in 2010.
Town face Boulevard at home on Sunday and can expect a tough encounter from a team that has been rejuvenated since the return from injury of their top striker Ian Coke.
Boulevard last faced Town at St John’s Field last November when Hornets ran out 4-0 winners, although it was only after Dominique Lambert and Fabian Frankson came on as substitutes that Town took control of the match in the second half. Lambert opened the scoring in the 72nd minute and went on to score a hat-trick.
Boulevard are fresh off a 2-1 win over Hamilton Parish last weekend to continue their climb up the table.
For the second time this season Cougars have been drawn against a First Division side and will take on Young Men’s Social Club in the opening match at PHC Field on Sunday. Cougars easily beat St George’s in the first round and are hitting form at the right time, having scored 11 goals in their last three league and cup games.
Parish will look to bounce back from the heartbreaking loss to Boulevard when they host Hood at Wellington Oval in the other match. A win over Boulevard would have lifted them off the bottom of the table, now they desperately need a victory to improve the morale of the players heading into some crucial matches.
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