Underdog tag suits Parish, says coach Hill
It should have been the prelude to the eagerly anticipated Friendship Trophy semi-final between PHC Zebras and Robin Hood, but the Shield match between Hamilton Parish and Devonshire Colts turned out to be the better match in the Boxing Day double-header at Lord’s.
The clash, which Parish won 4-2 in extra time, had some interesting twists as Colts, who came from a goal down to lead 2-1 midway through the second half, were denied a place in the New Year’s Day final by a last-minute penalty save by goalkeeper Nigel Burgess.
Burgess was one of Parish’s heroes along with midfielder Chris Caisey who celebrated his wedding on Christmas Eve with the first and last goals of a tense match.
“It was obviously a good save by Nigel to give us an opportunity to move further in the Shield,” Corey Hill, the Parish coach, said. “Nigel’s been a great servant to the club for many years. Chris also has a history with the club; he played for the club before and his father, Chris Caisey, also played for many years at Hamilton Parish. He has roots in the club.”
Hill, who took over as coach this season, is one win away from a first trophy, although it will be a tough match against unbeaten league leaders Southampton Rangers.
“We have nothing to lose; we’re labelled as the so-called underdogs, which suits us fine,” Hill insists.
Parish have three college players, Macquille Walker, Christian Smith and Mauriq Hill, back for the holidays and all three featured in the semi-final. Colts came back from a goal down after seven minutes to equalise two minutes later through an own goal from Mauriq Hill. They then led through Chemari Henry’s strike early in the second half.
“Colts definitely made it a bigger challenge than what we thought it was going to be,” coach Hill said. “It’s all about the community, trying to get people out to support the team. Winning the Shield will be a bonus.”
Parish, third in the table behind Rangers and Somerset Eagles, who remain unbeaten in the league, have promotion as their priority. However, Hill hopes a win over Rangers could help turn the tide for the second half of the campaign as they look to close the gap on the front two.
“We’re definitely going to give it all we’ve got,” Hill said.
The past few months have represented a big turnaround for Parish who finished bottom of the First Division last season.