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Battling Hornets rise to the challenge

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Ross Russell may not have known who Dandy Town were before last night, but the Defence Force boss won't forget Hornets in a hurry.

The Bermuda team put in a heroic performance at BAA Field, and were more than a match for their more fancied opponents.

With a little more firepower upfront Town might even have won their CFU Club Championship first leg encounter, but Jahmel Swan's header aside they lacked that extra something which would have made all the difference.

How costly Sean Narcis' equaliser will be in the final reckoning is anyone's guess, but nothing should detract from an impressive Town display that left Russell seeking a tape of the game so he could go back to Trinidad and figure out just what went wrong.

When Russell does watch the replay he'll see that the answer is very simple. Town ran, and ran, and ran, and never let Force settle into the kind of rhythm that they so obviously like to play at.

At the heart of the Town engine room where Swan and Jared Peniston, who mostly neutralised the threat posed by Sean Narcis, Jerwyn Balthazar, and striker Richard Roy.

Towards the end as Swan and Peniston tired, the defence, which was magnificent throughout, stepped up their game another notch, comfortable in the fact that they had Daniel Johnson behind them.

The Town goalkeeper made a string of fine saves last night, several from point blank range to deny Roy when it seemed the Force striker must score.

Hornets though where more than just honest workers, they created several chances as well, and Swan's goal when it came was hardly against the run of play. The only surprise was that, against a team of giants, the diminutive midfielder scored with a header.

Most of the blame for that must fall on the shoulders of Force goalkeeper Kevin Graham, who made a complete mess of a corner and could only watch as the ball sailed over his head and was nodded in by the unmarked Swan.

Going behind stunned Force into action, and Balthazar, who was his side's best player, started to make his presence felt going forward.

In the end, Force's equaliser, which came with little more than 30 minutes gone was more about the pace and power of Narcis than anything else. The midfielder drove from deep, swapped passes with Balthazar on the edge of the box, and with the Town defence split, fired the ball past Johnson.

Both side's had chances to go back in front before the break, and Peniston for Town, and his opposite number Michael Edwards should have done better with their efforts on goal.

The visiting team largely had the better of things in the second half, and Kemon Tucker and Johnson both had to be alert to deny Roy.

At the other end the out of sorts Raymond Beach missed a golden opportunity to put his side back in front when he completely missed the ball with the goal at his mercy.

However it was Kerry Joseph who missed the best chance of the night. Having waltzed through a Town defence that switched off for just a moment, he fired his shot across the face of goal with Johnson beaten.

In the end a draw was no more than either side deserved, and on this evidence the result of the second leg is certainly not a formality.

Town and boss Jomar Wilkinson certainly won't think so, and if Russell did before, he won't now.

Dandy Town: D Johnson, G Dyer, F Frankson, K Tucker, D Ming, J Swan, J Peniston, L Dill (H Wolfe, 82), S Darrell, W Place (S Burchall, 70), R Beach.

Subs not used: R Wells, J Butterfield, T Daniels.

Booked Frankson

Defence Force: K Graham, R Fletcher, M Edwards (J Sebro, 73), K Joseph, C Rivers J Balthazar (B Julius, 89), S Narcis (K Williams, 82), D Pacheco, R Elcock, A Edwards, R Roy:

Subs not used: D Prince, R St Louis, J Neptune, G Franklin.

Booked Narcis

Referee: K Holder (Cayman Islands)

Man of the match: J Swan

Dandy Town striker Raymond Beach shields the ball from a Defence Force player during last night's game at BAA Field.

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Published March 11, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated March 11, 2011 at 9:01 am)

Battling Hornets rise to the challenge

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