PHC spoil Village title party
PHC 2 North Village 1PHC gatecrashed the Premier Division title race yesterday with a victory over league leaders North Village at Southampton Oval.
Zebras started the game six points behind Village who would have been crowned champions had they managed to pick up a point.
Last season saw Rams surrender the title to Dandy Town on the final weekend of last season but Shaun Goater's side are still firmly in the driving seat and, bar a catastrophic defeat against relegated Devonshire Colts, should wrap up the championship on Sunday.
PHC, who have a far inferior goal difference, took the lead after just three minutes when Khimisi Lightbourne's turn and shot found its way past the despairing dive of Jason Williams in the Village goal.
The men from Warwick had suffered the indignation of watching Town lift the title at the Oval last term and looked determined to ensure there would be no repeat celebrations in their own backyard this time around.
But had it not been for Vernon Tankard profiligacy in front of goal, then PHC might have been powerless to prevent the champagne corks popping with the Village veteran missing a pair of good goalscoring chances.
Just before half-time, Village found themselves further behind when Lightbourne added to his tally after brushing off the attentions of defender Kofi Dill before steering the ball past Williams.
Village, whose players attended church together before the game, must have been praying for some divine intervention at half-time and it came in the form of a controversial penalty soon after the re-start.
PHC defender Robert Richardson was perhaps harshly adjudged to have handled in the box with Sammy DeGraff dispatching the ensuing penalty past keeper Raymond Glasford.
Minutes later, Village had another claim for a spot-kick when Glasford pulled Tankard's jersey after fumbling a cross but this time referee Steve Allen chose to wave play on.
With Town, Village's nearest rivals going into yesterday's game, losing heavily to Southampton Rangers, the Rams needed only a point to win their first title since 2006. Yet it was the hosts who kept creating the better chances and should have extended their lead when Tre Ming rounded the keeper but somehow squirmed his effort into the side netting.
Goater threw burly defender Sean Fubler up front in a desperate attempt to grab an equaliser, but the PHC backline stood firm to ensure Village will have to wait another week before they land the title.
Zebras assistant coach Brian Anderson praised young striker Lightbourne for his pair of cool first-half finishes.
“Khimisi took his goals well, he kept his cool and composure,” he said. “We put pressure on Village from the start and we're delighted to get the three points. Village are more than in the driving seat for the title but we're pleased to push them all the way.”
PHC: R Glasford, K Griffith, R Richardson, M Lambe, S Codrington, T Ming (J Franklin, 88), Cofield Robinson, K Lambe, A Russell, C Robinson (S Philpott, 78), K Lightbourne
S Trott, L Holder, J Sealey, Q Burgess, G Russell
Subs not used:
Lightbourne, 3, 42
J Williams, J Boyles (R Robinson, 75), L Alexander, S Fubler, K Dill, T Burgess, T Watson, K Dill (M Saunders, 68), S DeGraff, V Tankard, R Bean
A Lee, J Lee, J Smith DeShields,
Subs not used:
DeGraff, 51 (pen),
K Lightbourne (PHC)
Man of the match: