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Ruthless Minors sinks Hornets

Photographs by Blaire SimmonsClose quarters: Brendon Minors, centre, is surrounded by Cougars players while they defend a set piece at Bernard Park

Dandy Town 1 Devonshire Cougars 2

A Vincent Minors Jr brace threw group B wide open and kept Devonshire Cougars’ bid for Dudley Eve Trophy glory alive at Bernard Park yesterday.

Minors netted either side of Dominique Lambert’s equaliser for defending champions Dandy Town Hornets to earn Cougars a share of the lead of the group with idle Robin Hood.

Town’s final group match with Hood will determine which two teams advance to the semi-finals along with Somerset Trojans and PHC Zebras who have already qualified for the last four.

Cougars lost their opening group match against last week and went into yesterday’s contest with Town needing a victory to shrug off elimination and they proved equal to the task thanks to Minors’s finishing.

“I’m a strong believer of what you put in is what you get out and VJ [Minors] has been working,” Kwame Steede, the Cougars coach, said. “He worked hard and deserved what he got.

“We needed the victory today and we got it and I thought the performance was good. We worked hard, wanted it more and did the right things at the right time.”

Town took early control of proceedings and came close to breaking the deadlock on a few occasions.

Fabian Frankson, the Town winger, had a volley saved by Kioshi Trott, the Cougars goalkeeper.

Moments later, Frankson intercepted a headed back pass and passed to fellow winger Jahnazae Swan who curled his effort over the bar.

Cougars gradually came into their own and took the lead against the run of play when Minors ran into open space to get to Burns’s cross first and lobbed the onrushing Mikkail Crockwell, the Town goalkeeper, to give his team the lead.

Crockwell was called upon moments later to make a crucial save to thwart Moses Steede, the Cougars captain, from close range as the men in green threatened to run away with the match.

Cougars’ lead was ultimately short-lived, though, as Dominique Lambert lashed home Swan’s short pass from an angle to leave the teams level at half-time.

Both teams enjoyed plenty of possession and created chances but failed to take control of midfield during the opening stanza and the game followed in the same vein when play resumed after the break.

Far too often good approach work was undone by poor passes in the attacking third.

Town began to fade around the hour mark and Cougars moved in for the kill, Minors nodding home what proved to be the game winner from substitute Zari Simmons’s diagonal free kick from just inside Cougars’ half.

Both teams had goals disallowed for offside as the game opened up.

Cougars were forced to defend for long spells in the closing minutes as Town pressed for an equaliser.

Town’s frustration was perhaps best summed up when they had the ball cleared off of the line.

Cougars protected the team’s slim lead and more importantly keep their hopes of reaching the semi-finals intact.

Dandy Town (4-3-3): M Crockwell — B Minors,

D Williams, K Lathan, Tymon — Daniels, S Furbert (sub: L Tucker, 46min), A Simmons — T Goater,

F Frankson (sub: D Ming, 54), D Lambert (sub: Tristan Daniels, 54) J Swan. Substitutes not used:

K Tucker, H Butterfield, L Millett, E Blankendal.

Devonshire Cougars (4-3-3)) K Trott —

D Williams, J Smith, Zeko White, J Darrell —

K Minors (sub: M Battersbee, 50), Zekiro White (sub: Z Simmons, 44) — M Steede, Z Morris,

V Minors, C Burns. Substitutes not used: R Nesbitt, J Furbert-Wade, C Albuoy, C Brangman. Booked:

J Smith, Z Morris.

Referee: L Raynor.