Rangers pummelled in Trophy opener
PHC 5 Southampton Rangers 0
Maurice Lowe endured a nightmare in his first match as coach of Southampton Rangers who were outgunned by a menacing PHC Zebras in this Dudley Eve clash at Bernard Park.
Zebras recorded an emphatic victory via goals from Cecoy Robinson (2), Kevin Lambe, substitute Jahnai Raynor and Marquel Waldron either side of the half.
Rangers were forced to play second fiddle throughout a lopsided contest and a second-half penalty miss by Vernon Perinchief perhaps best summed up their miserable afternoon.
In contrast, Zebras were sharper, quicker, hungrier and clinical in the attacking third of the pitch.
Such was their dominance at times it seemed as though the multiple Dudley Eve champs were simply going through the motions during a training exercise.
Afterwards, Zebras vice captain Robert Richardson kept his feet planted firmly on the ground.
“Yes, it was a 5-0 victory and the coaching staff was happy with the performance,” he said. “But there's a long season ahead and there's always room for improvement.”
Zebras virtually had the match sewn up when Lambe put them ahead for good seconds from the kick-off with a sublime volley from about 20 yards out.
Live-wire forward Shakir Smith played a long ball into the box where former Rangers striker Dennis Russell headed it down into the path of the onrushing Lambe whose first-time volley drifted into the top right hand corner past the diving Jason Smith in goal.
The goal arrived before Rangers had possession of the ball and before the dust had settled Smith was picking the ball out of the net again after Robinson scored from close range after the defence failed to clear their lines.
Zebras were in full control at both ends of the pitch and seemed capable of scoring at will every time they pressed forward.
Smith nearly increased Zebras' lead when he unleashed a ferocious shot inside the area. But Rangers ‘keeper Smith was equal to the task, diving to his right to push the ball around the post.
Rangers played most of the opening stanza chasing the ball in their own half but did look threatening on the break on the rare occasion.
During a counterattack down the left flank Zebras' ‘keeper Raymon Glasford produced a spectacular save at the near post to deny Rangers forward Ezekiel Stoneham.
Akale Bean was given a good look at goal during another quick break but was denied as Glasford raced off his line to extinguish the threat.
These missed opportunities ultimately came back to haunt as Robinson controlled Waldron's diagonal cross in the box and drilled the ball home from an angle to send Zebras into the dressing room at the half with a commanding 3-0 lead.
Rangers pulled their socks up after the break and grew in confidence with every foray into Zebras terrain.
After a period of sustained pressure Rangers were awarded a penalty after Zebras' ‘keeper Glasford committed a soft foul on the diminutive Reggie Lowe in the box.
But Perinchief blew a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit when he ballooned his spot-kick over the bar.
At the other end Robinson was denied a hat-trick when Smith blocked the winger's shot from point blank range.
But there was little Smith could do to prevent sub Raynor from making it 4-0 with a neat finish after being played through by Robinson's well weighted pass that sliced the defence wide open.
Waldron then put Rangers out of their misery when his half volley from beyond the 18-yard box trickled through a phalanx of legs and nestled into the bottom right corner of the net.
Rangers' forward Willie Clemons picked up a second yellow card in injury time which should've resulted in the player being sent off.
But Clemons remained on the pitch for the rest of the match as his second booking went unnoticed by referee Anthony Francis.