Cougars run out of gas against PHC
Devonshire Cougars 1
PHC Zebras 2
Marco Piper's extra time winner sent PHC Zebras through to the Friendship Trophy semi-finals at Devonshire Recreation Club yesterday.
Mark Wade, the PHC coach, rolled the dice by bringing on Piper as an 80th minute substitute for Shakir Smith with the game hanging in the balance. And the gamble paid off as the attacking midfielder scored the winner with a sublime finish in the first half of extra time.
Cecoy Robinson gave PHC the lead in the fifteenth minute from the penalty spot, before Charmari Burns equalised thirteen minutes later to leave the teams level, before Piper finally broke the deadlock in extra time.
Very little separated the two teams in terms of quality, and in the end PHC's physical superiority proved to be the difference.
Any thoughts that PHC might have had of an easy afternoon against a team who have struggled in the Premier Division until recently were quickly dispelled, with Cougars firing on all cylinders.
The home side dominated the early exchanges with Kwame Steede, their player-coach, pulling the strings in midfield, and were unfortunate not to take the lead after having two efforts ruled out for offside.
The game was then turned on its head when Zekiro White, the Cougars centre back, hacked down Jahnai Raynor to the ground during a counter attack.
The foul appeared to have been committed outside of the box, however Lyndon Raynor, the referee, thought otherwise and Robinson broke the deadlock after sending Ricardo Brangman, the Cougars goalkeeper, the wrong way.
Despite falling behind Cougars held their shape and poise, and eventually found themselves level when Burns drilled home from close range after PHC failed to clear their lines from a free kick.
Burns went close again after linking up with Jordan Darrell, before PHC had a goal ruled out for offside on the stroke of half-time.
Cougars made one change at the break, with Vince Minors replacing Chasun Brangman.
The game opened up in the second half with both teams battling hard to take charge of midfield.
Troy Hall, the PHC goalkeeper, had to race off his line to beat Mark Steede, the Cougars striker, to a pass in the box from the Steede's brother Kwame, while at the other end Smith dragged a shot wide when well placed in front of the goal.
Cougars then suffered a setback when substitute Minors injured his right knee and had to be replaced.
PHC eventually took control and went close to ending the game in normal time.
Moses Steede, the Cougars captain, cleared Casey Castle's cross away as Smith moved in for the kill, Piper had a goal disallowed soon after coming on, and Kevin Richards blazed Castle's cross over as the game raced towards extra time.
Cougars faded in extra time as fatigue set in, and PHC took full advantage.
With the home team clinging on PHC ran rampant with Castle firing over from a tight angle when a cross to his team-mates waiting in the middle would have been the better option.
Cougars, however, would not be as fortunate moments later when Piper scored with a clinical finish.
Running away from the goal with a defender hot on his heels, Piper flicked the ball over the onrushing Brangman.
By now Cougars were a beaten bunch, and had it not been for some excellent goalkeeping from Brangman they could have easily lost by a wider margin.
Brangman made a one-handed save at his near post to deny Robinson from an angle, and then produced a fantastic save to tip Piper's thunderbolt from close range over the bar.
Devonshire Cougars 1
PHC Zebras 2
Robinson 28 (pen), Piper 99
Devonshire Cougars (4-5-1): R Brangman — J Darrell, Zekiro White, Zeko White, L Tota — Z Simmons (sub: T Woodley, 100), C Brangman (sub: V Minors, 46 (sub: L Brangman, 91)), Moses Steede, K Steede, C Burns — Mark Steede. Substitutes not used: N Carmichael, J Smith, C Stevens, Z Morris. Booked: Darrell.
PHC (4-5-1): T Hall — J Carpenter, N Griffith, M Lambe, D Usher (sub: K Richards, 58) — M Waldron, D Dowling, J Raynor (sub: M Burchall, 100), C Robinson, S Smith (sub: M Piper, 80) — C Castle. Substitutes not used: J Ball, A Hunter, D Joell, K Abraham. Booked: Lambe, Usher, Robinson, Castle.
Referee: L Raynor