We did Bermuda proud, says Town boss Wilkinson
Defence Force 3 Dandy Town 0
(Force win 4-1 on aggregate)
Dandy Town coach Jomar Wilkinson praised his team's battling display and insisted they ‘did Bermuda proud' despite being knocked out of the CFU Club Championship qualifiers.
Hornets returned to the Island last night after losing to Trinidad's Defence Force at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on Saturday.
For Wilkinson, the scoreline didn't do his young side's performance justice although he admitted Hornets did struggle to match the physical edge and fitness levels of their professional opponents.
“I think the players gave a good account of themselves, did themselves proud and their country proud,” he said. “We knew (Defence Force) were going to come at us and we absorbed a lot of pressure.
“They scored a brilliant goal in the 20th minute which we couldn't do much about. The players came out in the second half and were knocking the ball around nicely and building up some momentum before we conceded again around 20 minutes left. As the game wore on (Defence Force's) fitness levels showed and they were a lot more physical this time around which we struggled to compete with.”
Wilkinson said the turning point in the match was when midfielder Jahmel Swan was forced off early in the second half with an eye injury. Swan, who scored in Town's 1-1 draw in the first leg, wasn't well enough to travel home yesterday and remains in Trinidad with the club's medic.
“With Jahmel getting injured so early in the game, that played a big factor for us,” Wilkinson said. “He's a real stalwart for us and to play with him not at 100 percent is a very difficult task for us he's irreplaceable. We believe he was accidently struck in the eye by one of the opponents. He continued to play until early in the second half but was never the same player after the injury. It's not as serious as we thought but he is still at the hospital at the moment.”
Damon Ming, the Hornets captain, echoed his coach's sentiments regarding Town's bellicose display against Trinidad's defending champions.
“The scoreline doesn't really tell the whole story,” he said, “we were still in the game until midway through the second half and we had a good go at them. They seemed a bit more prepared this time around as it showed. It was a good learning experience for the younger players and that bodes well for our future.”
One of those youngsters to experience a taste of the region's top club competition was 16-year-old Caldre Burgess, who came on for his club debut in the second half.
Michael Weeks, the Hornets vice-president, said: “Caldre made his debut for Hornets against Force so that was a great experience for him. He played the last ten minutes and didn't let anyone down.”
Weeks also revealed that the club which finished second in this season's Premier Division would be eligible for next year's CFU Club Championships. With one match of the campaign remaining, Town are third, one point behind PHC.
“If we come second this season we will be eligible to qualify for next year's competition,” Weeks added: “That's a big incentive for our players ahead of our final game of the season against Cougars at home.”
Defence Force are the only club from the Caribbean to have won the Concacaf Champions League crown, in 1985, when they beat Honduran side CD Olimpia, and were the dominant club in Trinidadian football during the 1980s and early 1990s.