Tucker spoils Town’s party
Dandy Town 2
Southampton Rangers 2
Jomar Wilkinson hit out at a referee assistant's non-call as a controversial 90th minute equaliser by birthday boy Janeiro Tucker dealt Dandy Town a devastating blow in their bid for a second straight Premier Division title yesterday at St John's Field.
Tucker, celebrating his 40th birthday, came on as a substitute at the start of the second half and gave Rangers a valuable survival lifeline with his late equaliser from a corner to deny Town all three points. Two shots were blocked as the Town defence failed to clear the cross before Tucker, standing inside the six-yard box, forced his effort over the line.
The Town defenders immediately looked to referee's assistant Garic Swainson for the offside flag which stayed down, the official satisfied that Tucker was not behind the last defender.
“The officials had an effect on this game today and that's unfortunate that we dropped points because the officials didn't make the correct call,” Wilkinson, the Town coach, said.
“Janeiro was quite clearly in an offside position and they got it wrong this time. I know it's a tough job but you have to get those calls right, especially in a title race. You expect them to get these calls right when so much is on the line. I'm disappointed for my players because they worked extremely hard this season to get to this point.
“We have to push on, we're three points behind and still with a possibility of winning the league and it could come down to goal difference. We're going to keep fighting, show some character and make our fans proud.”
The late goal proved a devastating blow for Town who led comfortably at half-time after teenager Jahnazae Swan finished off a good move involving Damon Ming and Seion Darrell to break the deadlock in the sixteenth minute after Darrell's pass put him through.
Darrell then scored a good goal himself nine minutes later when he surged forward as the Rangers defence retreated before hitting a dipping shot from 20 yards that beat the flat-footed Jason Smith.
Rangers' best effort in the first half came in the 44th minute when Shaki Swan's side-footed effort from 18 yards grazed the crossbar. The visiting side, who brought on Tucker and Erin Simons for Vernon Perinchief and Shannon Burchall at the start of the second half, began to threaten more after the restart.
However, Town looked to have the points securely in the bag in the 72nd minute when they were awarded a penalty after Smith, the Rangers goalkeeper, brought down Angelo Simmons.
The usually reliable Damon Ming had a weak kick saved by Smith, who was probably fortunate to still be on the field after only receiving a yellow card for the foul on Simmons.
“Though our goalkeeper did well to save it I don't think he had to make the foul in the first place as he had already guided the player away from the goal,” Maurice Lowe, the Rangers coach, said. “To give up the penalty and then save it, it was a critical moment that gave us a platform to come back.”
It proved to be the turning point in the game as Simons then converted from the penalty spot in the 77th minute after a handball was called against Brandon Minors, the Town captain.
Donte Brangman had become a major influence in the Rangers midfield, but Town still did not heed the warning. In the 90th minute Rangers wiped out their lead when Tucker struck to spark a pitch invasion by the Rangers fans.
If Town fail to retain their title, they can look back on the two crucial moments in yesterday's match, though Wilkinson does not blame Ming whose performances this season have been a key in the club's revival .
“For him to miss the penalty I really feel bad for him, but we had numerous chances, especially in the first half.”
Dandy Town (4-3-3): M Crockwell — K Tucker, B Minors, G Dyer,
L Millett — D Ming, R Trott,
S Darrell (sub: J Peniston, 85min) — A Simmons (sub: A Smith 78), C Darrell (sub: J Hunt, 67), J Swan. Substitutes not used: K Lathan, K Davis, T Wilson, E Outerbridge. Booked: Simmons, Minors.
Southampton (4-3-3): J Smith — J Hill, M Burch, T Brown, A Rocker — V Perinchief (sub: J Tucker, 46), D Brangman, W Clemons — S Burchall (sub: E Simons, 46),
J Seymour, S Swan (sub:
K Symonds, 75). Substitutes not used: C Richardson, N Mello,
J Dyer, T Lowe. Booked: Rocker, Hill, Brown, Tucker.
Referee: E Holmes.