Victory puts Zebras back on track
PHC Zebras 2
PHC Zebras broke out of their slump with a well deserved victory over their ‘landlords' at Southampton Oval yesterday.
Without a win since they hammered Rangers 5-1 in their Dudley Eve opener at Bernard Park on September 2, PHC reversed their fortunes with a much better second-half performance.
The returning pair of Cecoy Robinson and Shakir Smith livened up an attack that offered little threat to Dandy Town in the Dudley Eve semi-finals last weekend.
Marco Piper scored their opener in the 64th minute and Smith added a second two minutes later before Willie Clemons pulled one back for Rangers to keep the scoreline close.
The best two chances in the first half fell to Rangers when Vernon Perinchief's near perfect lob over goalkeeper Raymon Glasford dropped onto the crossbar in the 27th minute, and then two minutes later Jahkai Dyer used his pace to get away from Marquel Waldron on the edge of the PHC box before his hurried shot was easily saved by the diving Glasford.
Those misses came back to haunt Rangers in the second half as PHC began to threaten more, particularly after Smith, who had been sidelined with a leg injury, came on in the 53rd minute to offer the team more attacking options.
“We ran at Rangers and when we saw that they were vulnerable and tired we brought on some extra legs, and it wasn't just Shakir, we also had Cofield (Robinson) who came on and did an immaculate job, and even Dennis Russell,” said Zebras assistant coach Robert Bean who was in charge of the team in the absence of coach Mark Wade.
“It took a lot of heart and determination from the guys who worked hard the whole time. They wanted to get off the bottom and get the monkey off their back and hopefully we can start going forward now. We have always believed, we just got unlucky a couple of times when a couple of results didn't go our way. The unity has always been there within the team.”
The deadlock was broken midway through the second half when fullback Jensen Rogers supported a move down the right side and sent in a cross for Piper to tap in from close range. And before Rangers had time to respond, PHC struck a second in the 66th minute when Cecoy Robinson threaded a pass through the middle for Smith to break clear, and calmly place the ball past the ‘keeper Jason Smith.
PHC kept the momentum going with a double substitution a minute later which saw Cofield Robinson and Dennis Russell replace Kevin Lambe and Piper.
Rangers were back in contention when Clemons met a cross from the right and drove a low shot into the far bottom corner, which proved to be his last touch as Reggie Lowe was standing on the side waiting to replace him. Rangers had their best chance to equalise in the 85th minute when Keedai Astwood's cross from a corner on the left was met by the unchallenged Khalil Symonds who put his effort over the top from just two yards.
Relief showed on the PHC players when Kuhn Evans blew the final whistle.
“We went into the changing room at half-time and said we're got to grind it out, everybody had to dig deep and whatever we had in the tank we had to leave it out on the pitch,” said captain Cecoy Robinson.
“It was a derby day and we definitely needed the victory today and I'm glad we got it. We need to get a good run going, we beat them 5-1 earlier but you can't take too much out of the pre-season games as you can see, so we just have to keep taking one game at a time. Shakir was very big for us, he gave us a little bit more pace on the other side and we were able to switch the point of attack and cause them problems and in the end it paid off for us.
“It's great to have him back, he put in a good shift today and we're just working on getting his fitness up.”
PHC: R. Glasford; M. Waldron, M. Lambe, J. Rogers, J. Raynor, N. Griffith, J. Sealey, D. Usher (S. Smith 53 min), K. Lambe (Cof. Robinson 67 min), Cec. Robinson; M. Piper (D. Russell 67 min).
Goals: M. Piper (64s), S. Smith (66min).
Yellow card: J. Rogers.
Southampton: J. Smith; J. Hill, M. Burch (K. Durrant 80 min), K. Tucker, K. Simmons, M. Tankard, V. Perinchief, W. Clemons (R. Lowe 73 min), S. Astwood (K. Astwood 64 min), K. Symonds, J.Dyer.
Goal: W. Clemons (73min).
Yellow card: W. Clemons.
Referee: Kuhn Evans.
Man of the match: Shakir Smith (PHC).