Below-par Cougars edge past Onions
Flanagan's Onions 0 Devonshire Cougars 1
Devonshire Cougars breathed a collective sigh of relief after narrowly defeating a bellicose Flanagan's Onions at a rainy Goose Gosling Field on Saturday night.
Cougars looked anything but defending champions against an Onions side that successfully managed to nullify Big Cats' creative outlets with their high tempo pressing game and physicality.
Ultimately, though, a Domico Coddington strike from the edge of the area on 55 minutes was enough to separate the sides, although Onions went close to drawing level when substitute Alex Hunter hit the crossbar with a difficult chance.
Ironically, considering the Bermuda Football Association had dedicated the match to World Peace Weekend, the opening match of the Premier Division was anything but friendly.
And Cougars, who completed the Triple Crown last season, winning the title, FA Cup and Friendship Trophy, should have been reduced to ten men midway through the second period when Dimitre Daniels kicked out at Onions' Alan Kelly following a robust challenge.
Cougars coach Dennis Brown, who said he didn't see the controversial incident, admitted his side were far from their best and believed they had “played into Onions' hands' by resorting to a more direct brand of football.
“This game certainly wasn't pretty and it showed me that we still have a lot to work on.
“Our passing wasn't good enough, our defence wasn't good enough, and our offensive play wasn't good enough.
“I felt we lacked football intelligence today. We made life difficult for ourselves and played into their hands by trying to go from defence to attack too quickly.
“But I'm glad to have got the three points in our first league game. The season is a marathon, not a sprint, and at least we improved somewhat in the second half.”
Neither team showed much in the way of attacking intent during a largely chanceless first half.
Onions' talismanic striker Keston Lewis went closest for the hosts with a sharp drive that Cougars goalkeeper Kioshi Trott did well to smother.
At the other end, Cougars midfield schemer Drewonde Bascome lifted a Kwame Steede right wing cross over the bar from close range.
Coddington broke the deadlock early in the second half when he was afforded far too much space and time by the Onions defence to rifle in his shot past Keeper Gould.
However, Onions continued to threaten primarily from set pieces and will be left wondering what might have been had Daniels been dismissed with around 25 minutes still remaining.
Flanagan's Onions: S Gould, A Kelly, B Amaro (K Ronaldson, 60), D Doolin, K Lewis, P Robey, P Matthews, S Butler, S Lister (M Ward, 71), S Upton (A Hunter, 55), J Fox
Yellow cards: Matthews, Upton
Devonshire Cougars: K Trott, J Butterfield, K Franks, D Cox, C Caisey, D Coddington, D Bascome, K Tucker, Z Iris, K Steede (T Dill, 77) D Daniels
Goals: Coddington, 55
Referee: R Cann
Man of the match: Coddington