Lightbourne wants players fighting for places
Devonshire Colts and Somerset Eagles, the two Premier Division clubs yet to see any action so far, will finally kick off their 2016-17 campaigns tomorrow with away matches at Bernard Park and Police Field.
Colts face a tough test against a North Village side that has found early form after three wins in the Dudley Eve and league, where they have already scored 15 goals after 4-1, 7-0 and 4-2 victories over Devonshire Cougars, Robin Hood and Boulevard.
Eagles, whose match with Colts was postponed last weekend because of a referee shortage, will travel to Police Field to meet a Boulevard side still struggling to find their feet. Boulevard have three losses already, 3-1 to PHC and Dandy Town in the Dudley Eve, and then last weekend's opening league defeat to the Rams.
Eagles, last season's First Division champions, are back in the top flight for the first time since the 2010-11 season and eager to make their mark. Like Boulevard and Colts the previous season, the main priority for Eagles will be survival in their first season back.
They landed two top awards in the recent Bermuda Football Association prize presentation, with Roger Lee named the First Division coach of the year, and 16-year-old Nathan Rego the most valuable player after his 20-goal season.
Robin Hood, still smiling after their 3-1 win at the home of league champions Dandy Town last weekend, will play neighbours Flanagan's Onions tonight at Goose Gosling Field.
Hood are still not up to full strength with a few players out injured, but Kyle Lightbourne, their coach, is looking forward to the meeting with last season's other promoted side.
“Chris Caisey [ankle injury] should be coming back within a week or two, Dante Brangman should soon be back, but I want to give him a real test on it [hamstring] to see how he reacts,” said Lightbourne, after the win over Town.
“Tre Ming is just coming back after an ankle injury and Chris Foskett has a hamstring injury. When they come back I want them to have to work hard to get in the team.”
Flanagan's picked up their first point with a 0-0 draw with Somerset Trojans in midweek as Keston Lewis marked his return to the team after a season with North Village. He will be their key man up front, while Antwan Russell, who scored twice against Town, will look to add to his tally for Hood.
Town will host Devonshire Cougars in the other match as pair Drewonde Bascome and Kor-von Tucker play against their former team. Jomar Wilkinson, the Hornets coach, has promised a swift response after a disappointing first loss of the season.
Cougars are still looking for their first win after last weekend's 2-0 defeat to PHC, which followed a defeat and a draw in the Dudley Eve.
The match between Somerset Trojans and PHC has been put back from tomorrow to next Wednesday, starting at 8pm at Somerset Cricket Club.
The eagerly awaited First Division programme kicks-off tomorrow with at least half the teams aiming to make a good push for promotion. Several of the clubs have been busy in the transfer market, and it doesn't look like the two relegated clubs, Hamilton Parish and Southampton Rangers, will have things their own way.
Parish lost 11 players, four to St George's and three — Caisey, Zuhri Burgess and Macquille Walker — to Robin Hood, while Michael Albuoy and Ryan Tyrrell have joined Devonshire Colts. Also leaving Parish are Ernest Signor, who returned to St George's, taking striker Donavan Thompson with him, along with Cavun Ottley and Zion Smith-Tucker.
Rangers, who lost nine players including Jesse Seymour and Vernon Perinchief, their former captain, to Trojans, and Jason Smith, their goalkeeper, to Paget, play Young Men's Social Club at Southampton Oval, while Hamilton Parish are away to a X-Roads side that have Mackih McGowan and brothers Tristan and Tymon Daniels returning from Robin Hood and Dandy Town.
St George's, who also have left-sided players Jahron Dickinson and Jordan Darrell returning after spells at Village and Cougars respectively, will play Wolves at Wellington Oval, while St David's take on BAA at Lord's. Ireland Rangers play Paget in the other match at Malabar Field.
Wolves, St David's and Paget have all strengthened their squad and will be among the promotion contenders. Wolves have signed Shaki Pearman and Vince Minors from Devonshire Cougars, Russ Ford from Somerset Trojans, Jared Peniston and George Dyer from Dandy Town, and Marcus Ming and Tamauri Tucker from BAA.
St David's have been busy, too, with Fabian Frankson and Mikkail Crockwell joining from Dandy Town, along with Kurtis Minors and Zachary Morris from Cougars.
Paget have a new look squad with at least eight players coming in, including McQuinn Burch, the veteran defender, and Kian Butterfield from Devonshire Colts and defender Robert Richardson from PHC. Ayshaun Smith joins them after one season at Trojans, along with veteran Dion Stovell who also leaves the top-flight club.