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Village too good for title rivals

N.Village v Dev Cougars (Photo by Akil Simmons)

North Village drew first blood in the Digicel Premier Division title race with an opening day victory over perennial contenders Devonshire Cougars at Bernard Park.The defending champions seem to have Cougars’ number these days having beaten the Big Cats 3-0 in the Charity Cup a few weeks ago.Yesterday, goals from Jahquan DeShields and Lashun Dill either side of the interval did the damage for Village who have made a blistering start to the new campaign.For youngster DeShields and veteran Dill, it was a day of firsts with both opening their goalscoring accounts in Village’s colours.Somewhat fittingly, it was Dill who laid on DeShield’s first top-flight goal in the third minute with a right wing cross which the 17-year-old gleefully tapped home past Cougars goalkeeper Clyde Darrell.Both teams were missing several key players with Domico Coddington, Tumani Steede and Chris Caisey absent for Cougars while Village were without Jason Lee and defensive lynchpins Kofi Dill and Shaun Fubler.However, there was still enough quality on show to ensure it was an entertaining first half for the Red Army faithful and the smattering of Cougars fans who made the short trip to Bernard Park.Kwame Steede nearly gave the visitors something to shout about with a fizzing effort that went just wide after being afforded too much time and space by Village’s defence.He went even closer moments later when his looping header from Joshua Butterfield’s deep cross was superbly tipped onto the crossbar by Village’s keeper Jason Williams.Village preserved their lead until half-time and went the closest to scoring after it when Tyrell Burgess swirled in a devilish delivery which was prodded over the bar by DeShields.It was a hard chance for the youngster who was always stretching to connect with Burgess’s cross from the right.DeShields had no excuses, though, when he was presented with an absolute ‘gift’ by Cougars’ keeper Clyde Darrell shortly after that difficult opportunity.The ball seemed to be rolling harmlessly out of play when Darrell inexplicably nudged it into DeShield’s path with the goal at his mercy.But in a comedy of errors, DeShields let Darrell off the hook, allowing the ball the squirm under his boot enabling the keeper to recover from his earlier aberration.For Cougars, at least, there was nothing to laugh about when a dazzling run by Dill late on saw him show a clutch of defenders a clean set of heels en route to goal, before flicking the ball into the net with his outside of his boot.Village could and should have added a third when substitute Mahlah Saunders squandered a one-on-one chance in the dying seconds, sliding his effort wide of the far post.Rams winger Dill said he was relieved to score his first Village goal and believed he was playing some of his best football for some time.“It’s always nice to get off the mark with a new club and it was important we won today,” he said. “It’s only the first game but to beat a team like Cougars gives us a lot of confidence.“People have been telling me I’m looking sharper than I have been for some time although I don’t know why that is. I guess have been training with Village and the national team so I’m feeling fit right now. I just want to do my best for my team-mates and my coach.”Village, who beat St George’s 5-1 in midweek, return to Dudley Eve action on Wednesday against Dandy Town at BAA Field. Kick off is at 7 pm.North Village: J Williams, T Burgess, L Alexander, D Tankard, J Samuels (K Dill, 70), S DeGraff, J Davis, R Bean, P Smith (M Saunders, 84), J DeShields (D Grant, 77), L DillSubstitutes not used: T WilsonGoals: DeShields, 3, Dill, 85Bookings: BurgessDevonshire Cougars: C Darrell, J Butterfield, K Tucker, J Seymour, K Franks, Z White, M Steede, S Pearman, L Simmons (M Smith, 80), J Smith (C Brangman, 75), K SteedeSubstitutes not used: C Clarke, Mark Steede, K Goddard, J MouchetteBookings: Moses SteedeReferee: A MouchetteMan of the match: L Dill (Village)