Cougars desperate to snap Dudley Eve losing streak
Devonshire Cougars will be looking to break a five-game losing streak in the Dudley Eve Trophy when they meet Somerset Trojans on Saturday, aiming to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the semi-finals.
Cougars capped their most successful season in the top flight with victory over the Trojans in April to win the FA Cup final and become the latest team to win the Triple Crown.
Now coach Dennis Brown will be hoping to inflict defeat over his former team as Cougars face a must-win situation in Group A following their 2-1 loss to Dandy Town on Monday at Bernard Park.
Cougars let a 1-0 half-time lead slip in the second half.
“Dandy Town deserved the win because they wanted it more than Cougars,” said Brown whose team failed to cope with the resurging Hornets in the second half despite Damon Ming missing a penalty with Cougars still leading.
In the end goals from Ming and defender Brandon Minors completed the turnaround for Town.
Brown acknowledged teams will be more determined against Cougars following last season's success.
“We will know real soon that each opponent will be gunning for us because of what we did last season,” warned the coach. “This season we must show a mental toughness and a will to compete even harder than we did last season.”
Defeat in the season's first major tournament came just a few days after Cougars thrashed Somerset 6-3 to win the Charity Cup.
But the Dudley Eve has not been Cougars' favourite tournament since Brown took over as coach two seasons ago. They haven't won a Dudley Eve game since the 6-2 thrashing of PHC in their group match in 2001, advancing to the semi-finals despite going down 4-1 to Southampton Rangers in their second match.
North Village then beat Cougars 3-2 in the 2011 semi-final before last season saw Cougars suffer defeats in group play to St George's and Dandy Town. Monday's loss to Town was their fifth straight defeat in the tournament.
“As for the Somerset match, if we don't come prepared to battle then there will be difficulties,” said Brown.
The Charity Cup saw the return of inspirational former captain Kwame Steede who missed the whole of last season following a serious knee injury which required surgery. Steede was also among the scorers that night but he was not in the Cougars squad for Monday's match.
“Kwame is okay, remember he had an operation last year so he must be managed appropriately,” said Brown who may need Steede's influence in midfield against the Trojans.
Cougars' situation isn't as bleak as that of Southampton Rangers who were hammered 5-0 by PHC in their Group B opener. Rangers must now get a victory against North Village in their final group match at Bernard Park to have any chance of advancing to the semi-finals.
Both the Trojans and Rams will have some new faces following activity in the transfer market.
Somerset, with Danvers Seymour their new coach, lost eight first team players — Jensen Rogers and Malachi Jones to PHC, Tyrell Burgess back to North Village, Dion Stovell to Southampton Rangers, Ijahmon Mallory to Hamilton Parish and Tahj Wade, Henry Santucci and Jonathan Bean to Ireland Rangers — while Village have picked up some key signings including goalkeepers Troy Hall Jr from PHC and Zane Hendrickson from St George's as well as forward Jahron Dickinson and defender Mishael Paynter from St. George's.