Cougars edge five-goal thriller
Southampton Rangers 2 Devonshire Cougars 3
Devonshire Cougars turned Southampton Oval into their feasting ground as they hunted and devoured Rangers to maintain their perfect league record yesterday.
Rangers for their part were not merely defenceless prey for the taking, dominating vast swaths of the match, however failure to finish off definitive attacks proved fatal in the end.
A mazy left side run by striker Jarazhino Bassett in the fifth minute went unrewarded as his centre to Donte Brangman resulted in a weak effort straight at the goalkeeper.
Brangman sent a scorcher wide right moments later from in close after he and Bassett again combined and two minutes on Bassett again was the provider, but Shane Hollis squandered the chance.
Having weathered the early storm, Cougars commenced their own attacks, one of which produced dividends in the form of a penalty when goalkeeper Jason Smith deliberately held striker Elisha Darrell after the latter won the ball from them and embarked on what appeared a clear path towards goal.
Smith was saved an automatic ejection as referee Martin Wyer adjudged a defender to be in the vicinity, instead becoming the game’s first booking.
There was little he could do moments after as Calin Maybury buried the resultant spot kick in the lower right corner while Smith dove left.
Before Rangers could recover, their deficit was doubled as Darrell produced a deft lob over Smith from an angle on the left after being discovered by an immaculately weighted pass from midfield schemer Jahzardae Samuels.
Zari Simmons should have made it a three-goal advantage nearing the break when he powered a free header wide off of a Shakii Pearman free-kick that found him unmarked inside the box.
Pearman himself was guilty of failing to convert an easy chance from close range four minutes following the break and the home side soon made the visitors pay for such error as they drew back a goal in the 61st minute as Bassett burst through a leaky defence for a one-on-one opportunity with goalie Ajai Daniels which he converted, slotting home low to the right.
The moment of success was short-lived as Samuels responded for Cougars, snaking his way past his maker and holding off a last-ditch effort by Maquel Nesbitt-Tankard to rifle home from just inside the penalty area beyond an exposed Smith.
Rangers pressured increasingly towards the end and substitute Keishon Wilson would bring Rangers within a single score seconds after coming on in the 90th minute, but it was a case of too little too late.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, Rangers have some quality players, so we knew it was just about hard work today,” said Cougars head coach Vance Brown.
“The difference was that we had more time to prepare and blend in some of our younger players, get them playing and making the better decisions quicker, which only comes from increased time and experience on the pitch.
“I’ve been telling the guys since preseason that while we have big name players all have to step up because the big day players are not always on, so they have to step up as well.”
Meanwhile, Rangers coach Jomar Wilkinson noted that his men lacked the required urgency for much of the proceedings.
“I felt like we were second to a lot of balls, we didn’t play with the intensity that was needed and gave them time to play. Everybody can play given time and we gave them too much,” said Wilkinson.
“We weren’t disciplined enough to play our positions at the appropriate times, but overall in the second half I think we did a good job dominating
“However, to give away a penalty as we did in the first that really put our backs against he wall an then to allow an easy second goal was critical.”
Southampton Rangers (4-3-2-1): J Smith — K Harrison, R Sampson, M Burch, M Nesbitt-Tankard (sub: K Wilson 87) D Ming, I Taylor, D Brangman — Q Maynard, S Hollis (C Henry 58) — J Bassett.
Substitutes not used: N Mello, J Hill, D Frost, J Bean, R Wright.
Booked: J Smith, M Burch, R Sampson
Devonshire Cougars (4-3-3): A Daniels — D Williams (sub: J Fox 91), Zeko White, C Maybury, Zekiro White — J Samuels, J Wade, Z Simmons — S Pearman, E Darrell, E Butterfield Tankard (sub: L Brangman 91).
Substitutes not used: D William, A Daniels, Z Simmons
Referee: M Wyer
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