Rangers and Eagles aim to build on promotion
Coaches Jomar Wilkinson and Jensen Rogers are hoping they can use this successful season with Southampton Rangers and Somerset Eagles and build for something even better in the Premier Division next season.
The two sides capped off their promotion campaigns with a thrilling final match on Sunday at White Hill Field to determine the First Division champions, Rangers coming out on top with a 3-2 win.
Rangers and Eagles finished third and fourth last season, but were well ahead of the chasing pack this time around as they sealed promotion with games to spare. Wilkinson is in his second season with Rangers and Rogers in his first at Eagles after helping Paget Lions to promotion last season as a player.
“I’m feeling like the proudest coach in Bermuda,” Wilkinson said. “We have been pushing for two years straight and I can’t ask more out of my players.
“They gave me everything I wanted as a coach. I’m proud, I’m happy and I can’t thank these players enough. They did more for me than I did for them!
“We are still not the finished product; we still have a long way to go, but I expect big things from these guys. They are honest players and a coach can’t ask for much more.
“Congrats to them and the whole community. There was a big turnout and they backed us. My hat goes off to Eagles, too; they did a heck of a job this season.”
Rangers finished top to make up for the disappointment of last season’s third-place finish, their win on Sunday secured by Quadir Maynard’s injury-time goal as Eagles suffered their first league loss of the season.
“I’m proud of Quadir; when we discussed the matchups and the things that needed to be done, I questioned his defensive discipline,” Wilkinson said. “But today he showed me he has everything he needs.
“He gutted it out, worked hard and did a good job marking Anwar Telford. He came through at the right moment late in the game. To have the composure and finish off the game like he did says a lot about what this team is about.
“We never give up and have the character to push on and beat anybody. Keedai Astwood conceded an own goal, which I think was a lapse in concentration late in the game. We made it harder than it needed to be, but in the end we showed the character that was needed to be champions.”
Rangers amassed 53 points and Eagles 49, more than the 44 points that enabled BAA and Paget to clinch promotion last season. Between them, Rangers and Eagles scored 133 league goals this season, with Jarazinho Bassett’s 20 goals proving decisive in Rangers’ promotion push.
Rogers, who was quite emotional at times during a tense match, was disappointed not to get the win that would have given them the title after his team came from 2-0 down in the second half.
“I’m more disappointed in not getting the victory, rather than the 50-point mark and the undefeated record, although if we had won the league that [first loss] would have been avoided,” Rogers said.
“I know it was a heartbreaking situation for the fans; they all came out and wanted to see the win.
“You could see the emotions and the passion in the game from both teams; the tackles were flying in. Hopefully, we can build off this ahead of our campaign next season.
“Hats off to both communities; they came out and showed that they were here to back their teams, which is a good thing for football.”
Rangers were relegated from the Premier Division in 2016, the same season that Eagles came up, although they lasted just one season in the top flight. In the past two seasons, one of the promoted teams have made an immediate return to the First Division, Young Men’s Social Club last season and Paget this season.