PHC eye record twelfth title
PHC Zebras are one win away from a record twelfth Friendship Trophy title, but coach Scott Morton accepts retaining their silverware will not be an easy task against a rejuvenated Dandy Town on New Year’s Day.
Morton says he is not dwelling on that record win and is aware that it was Town who handed them their first league defeat of the season this month when they won 2-0.
Even so, the record is within reach with PHC, who beat North Village in last year’s final, joining the Rams and Somerset Trojans in a three-way tie for the most wins.
“It’s important we bring our A game, but at the same time they have to be wary of us,” Morton, said of Town who PHC meet at Somerset Cricket Club at 2.30pm.
“I’ve all the confidence in the world in my players. They are big-time fighters and believers, so that carries them a long way.”
As Kole Hall showed on Boxing Day with his winner against Robin Hood, both teams have potential match winners.
However, captains Cecoy Robinson and Angelo Simmons, their team’s top scorers, pose obvious threats.
It was Robinson’s shot, parried by Hood goalkeeper Dale Eve, that enabled Hall to head home the rebound from inside the six-yard box for the game’s only goal.
Morton was relieved to overcome the challenge of Hood, acknowledging the match did not live up to its billing.
“I’m a little disappointed from that standpoint, meaning I am always one to make sure that the fans get their money’s worth and we could have done a lot more to give them their money’s worth,” said the former Town coach. “There is still a lot of work to do because Town are formidable opponents.
“They are improving and I expect a complete match from them. Believe me, my players are also going to give them a tough match.”
Town, who edged Boulevard 2-1 in last weekend’s first semi-final, are on a four-game unbeaten run.
This will be only the second time the teams will have met in a Friendship Trophy final.
PHC won 3-1 in 1985-86 when Town reached their first final. That was PHC’s fifth Friendship Trophy title and a fruitful period for them as they won four times in five years, including three straight titles between 1986 and 1988.
That was followed by Town winning a first title in 1991 and winning again in 1994 and 1995. They won a fourth title in 2003 when they edged Somerset Eagles 3-2 and are tied on four wins with Devonshire Colts.
PHC have appeared in 18 Friendship Trophy finals and Town ten, the last of which was in 2014-15 when they beat Hood 4-3 but were forced to relinquish the trophy the following day after fielding a late substitute, Kevin Hurdle, who was not listed on their team sheet.
Hurdle came on for Clay Darrell in the 80th minute, moments before Damon Ming scored the winning goal.