Bean predicts close encounter
The New Year’s Day Friendship Trophy final between North Village and PHC Zebras could well be a goal-laden encounter considering the firepower of both teams.
It is unlikely, however, to produce the glut of goals when the two teams previously met in the final of the competition in 2008 — a 7-3 victory for Village to prevent PHC from chasing the Triple Crown.
Ralph Bean Jr and Keishen Bean, who scored a brace in Village’s semi-final win over Devonshire Cougars on Wednesday night, both netted hat-tricks that day.
“PHC won the league and the FA Cup that year and we were cognisant of them trying to win the Triple Crown,” recalls Ralph Bean, who captained Village in the highest-scoring final in Friendship Trophy history.
Bean played his last match for Village in the FA Cup final against PHC in April, losing 1-0 after a Daren Usher goal in extra time. The 37-year-old announced his retirement after the game and these days enjoys reporting on football games for The Royal Gazette.
“I haven’t seen North Village a lot this season but PHC do look the part, probably the most complete team in the league right now,” said Bean, who expects Keishen Bean and Shayne Hollis to play key roles for Village at Wellington Oval.
Both players netted in the semi-final, with Bean scoring two vital goals to pull Village back from 2-1 down for a 3-2 win. “PHC have the least goals scored against them now and I really think it is going to be a game of chances,” Bean predicted.
Scott Morton, the PHC coach, has created a free-scoring side, with captain Cecoy Robinson and Marco Warren leading them in attack, similar in style to Village’s Bean and Hollis.
PHC have scored 39 goals and conceded six in nine league games and lead the Premier Division by three points, while Village, fifth, have scored 17 and conceded 14. “You could see a lot of goals but sometimes in a final it doesn’t open up early enough,” Bean added. “I expect it to be close, exciting and to see lots of goals.”
Bean was proud to play his last match for Village in a final, albeit a losing one, but says he has no regrets about the timing of his retirement.
“I’m very satisfied with my decision, it was a huge commitment of time at that stage of my career,” he said. “I just wasn’t able to make that commitment.”
PHC, as they did last season, go into the new year unbeaten, although this time they have already won the Dudley Eve Trophy. They reached the previous two Friendship Trophy finals, losing to Somerset Trojans 2-1 and Devonshire Cougars 1-0 last year.
After another hard-fought 2-1 victory over Robin Hood to reach the final, PHC are hoping it will be third time lucky.
“It [win] was good for the confidence of the players and important that we showed the fighting character when needed,” Scott Morton, the PHC coach, said. “We had players out there cramping up for at least the last 30 minutes. They gave everything they had and I can’t ask for anything more.
“The main thing was that the fans enjoyed what they came out for on Boxing Day. Hopefully this sets the stage for the finals.”
Village have been the most successful team in the competition since 2000, winning seven titles. They won three titles on the trot from 2009-10 and 2011-12. PHC did the “three-peat” twice, in the early 1970s and mid-1980s, while Somerset are the only team to win four straight titles, between 1967 and 1970.
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