Morton wary of hyped up’ Hood at home
Scott Morton does not feel that the PHC Zebras will have a big advantage when they take on Robin Hood at PHC Field in the eagerly anticipated Friendship Trophy semi-final on Boxing Day.
The semi-final venues were already decided by the Bermuda Football Association when PHC were given the chance to play at home after coming out first in the draw. And while the venue should provide a good setting for a match involving the top two teams in the Premier Division, Morton respects the strength of his opponents, despite two wins and a draw against them this season.
“They have game winners all over the pitch and a good coach in John Barry [Nusum], who I respect a lot,” Morton said of the league champions yesterday. “We have home advantage but I look at it differently as sometimes your opponents come a bit more hyped up.”
This match will determine whether PHC finish the first half of the season unbeaten, which they managed last term before Hood beat them to the finish line to claim a maiden Premier Division title.
The Zebras started this season by beating Hood 1-0 in the Charity Cup and followed that up with a 3-2 victory after extra time in the Dudley Eve Trophy semi-final on November 1, two weeks after a 2-2 draw in the league.
“Last year has no bearing on this year for us, what’s in the past will stay in the past,” Morton said. “It’s important we remain focused every single moment of the game while enjoying it.”
Marco Warren and captain Cecoy Robinson have been two of their outstanding players this season, leading the scoring, but Morton insists that their solid start to the campaign has been a team effort from the goalkeeper up to the strikers.
“Even the college players, now that they are back,” he said. “It’s a total team effort.
“We have to entertain the fans, they pay to watch us. We’re just trying to keep everyone focused, staying humble and following our same processes of respecting our opponents. We’re excited, looking forward to it and are glad to play in these matches. I just hope the crowds come out to support all the teams.”
PHC beat Somerset Trojans 2-0 in the quarter-finals last Sunday. Their success is bringing out past players, such as the legendary Earl “Townsey” Russell, whose grandson, Antwan Russell, plays for Hood and is hoping to get one over on his former team.
Morton, who took over the coaching job at PHC from Mark Wade, now the BFA president, won his first piece of silverware with the club in their recent Dudley Eve Trophy win and considers it an honour to coach a team of PHC’s stature.
“I had a conversation with him [Russell] and told him I continue to play my way,” said Morton, who also won titles with North Village. “The players have to bear the responsibility and make sure those persons continue to come out to watch the team. I love the pressure.”
PHC, who won their tenth Friendship Trophy in 2008-09, reached the past two finals but lost to Somerset and then Devonshire Cougars last year.
Cougars are still in the competition and will meet their neighbours, North Village, in next Wednesday’s other semi-final at Goose Gosling Field, having just beaten them in the league.
The winners will meet in the New Year’s Day final at Wellington Oval.
Another interesting match is set for PHC Field on Tuesday, when holders BAA meet Southampton Rangers in the First Division Shield semi-finals. The teams, second and third in the second tier respectively, recently drew 2-2 and it could be just as close again between the promotion-chasing sides.
In the other semi-final on Wednesday, league leaders Paget Lions play Wolves, who picked up a rare win this season with victory after extra time against St George’s Colts last weekend. Paget beat the other Colts, Devonshire, to advance to the last four.
The Boxing Day matches start at noon and 2.30pm while Wednesday’s games start at 7pm and 9pm.
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