Experience beats youth in pulsating tie
Butterfield & Vallis of the Corona League collected another First Division scalp in the FA Cup last night when they beat Somerset Eagles in their preliminary round replay at Goose Gosling Field.
B&V, who beat BAA in last year's competition, were deserving of the victory, though they had to absorb sustained second half pressure from Eagles who, after conceding a second goal just 23 seconds into the second half, came charging back to play their best football of the night in an exciting tie.
All three goals were well taken, with B&V striking late in the first half through Keith Jennings, and then through Lashun Dill, their captain, after the restart.
Eagles quickly responded with a Kanhai Fray goal to stay in the game. The first match finished 3-3 and last night B&V, with a number of former Bermuda internationals, used their experience to test their fitter opponents.
“I watched Eagles a couple of times and knew where their strong points and weak points were,” Armel Thomas, the Butterfield & Vallis coach, said.
“The last time when they came back on us we totally broke down in midfield, so I put some extra coverage in there for that. Their young guys are much fitter than our guys, so I had to make sure that we had a balanced team to go up against Eagles.”
The Corona side were holding their own in the first half as both teams played some good passing football. The best chance to break the deadlock came on the half-hour when Gladwin Lambert, the Eagles goalkeeper, made a good save to a Dill shot from the left side of the box.
B&V were enjoying a good period and took the lead in the 36th minute when Jennings followed up on a lob forward for Dennis Russell, which the Eagles defence allowed to bounce, and smashed a volley into the empty net from 20 yards with Lambert off his line.
Jennings wasted a good chance to make it 2-0 in the 41st minute when a high ball into the box from defender David Hunt was missed by Lambert as he came off his line, but Jennings at the far post lifted his shot over the bar from six yards.
The tie looked to have been settled less than 30 seconds into the second half when Hunt's cross to the far side found Dill, who used his aggression to win the ball against Richard Quinn before turning and smashing his shot into the far corner.
Within four minutes Eagles were back in the contest, however, when Fray blasted a shot from the edge of the top into the top corner, the goal injecting new life into Eagles.
Butterfield and Vallis found themselves defending for long periods as Eagles kept pushing forward in search of the equaliser.
At the other end Lambert came out of his area to make an important tackle on Dennis Russell.
Fray and Nathan Rego were causing B&V some anxious moments with their pace, though Jennings went close again for the home side on the break when he smashed a shot against the crossbar in the 86th minute.
Another quick break saw Jennings square the ball to substitute Marcel Dill, whose effort was tipped over the bar by Lambert deep into stoppage time.
“We had to park the bus after a while,” said Thomas, after his team survived six minutes of stoppage time.
Butterfield & Vallis 2
Jennings 36, Dill 46
Somerset Eagles 1
Butterfield & Vallis (4-4-2): R Evans — D Hunt, L Stevens, J Crockwell, T Trott — R DeSilva, E Calder (sub: C Jackson, 60min), T Russell, K Jennings — D Russell (sub: M Dill, 75), L Dill. Substitutes not used: E Simmons, M Ferreira, J Thompson. Booked: Calder.
Somerset Eagles (4-4-2): G Lambert — R Quinn (sub: K Virgil, 38), L Burch, G Smith, C Medeiros (sub: A Furbert, 38) — K Harrison, D Riley-clarke, R Seaman (sub: J Santos, 46), A Telford — K Fray, N Rego. Substitutes not used: K Fox, J Simmons, R Trott, A Wilkinson. Booked: Fray.
Referee: A Bailey.