Late double sends Cougars into final
Dandy Town 1
Devonshire Cougars 3
Two goals in the space of four minutes from substitutes Lamont Brangman and Nyeem Simmons fired Devonshire Cougars through to their first Dudley Eve Trophy final in three seasons in a thrilling semi-final encounter at Goose Gosling Field last night.
Brangman put Cougars back in front with a composed finish inside of the box in the 90th minute before fellow substitute Simmons slotted in from close range in the final minute of stoppage time to put the game further beyond the reach of Dandy Town.
Cougars led 1-0 at half-time thanks to Christian Albouy's thunderous right-footed blast from 12 yards after 19 minutes, but Town drew level through Eusebio Blankendal shortly after the restart.
Hornets were then dealt a crushing blow when Tomiko Goater, the striker, was sent off in the 55th minute after picking up a second booking for a crunching tackle from behind on Jawonday Smith, the Cougars midfielder.
They also lost central defender Dominique Williams to cramp, which plagued both sets of players as the blistering pace of this physical encounter took its toll.
Just when it seemed as though extra time would be needed to separate the teams, Brangman and Simmons made Town pay dearly for some slack defending.
The victory was Cougars' second straight over Town inside of three weeks, which also avenged a 5-4 penalty shoot-out loss to Town in the 2013-14 Dudley Eve Trophy final.
Cougars scraped through to the semi-final on goal difference after taking only one point from group B, which included North Village and Robin Hood.
“We didn't even have ourselves going through to be honest,” Omar Butterfield, the Cougars coach, said. “The first two Dudley Eve games I used more as preseason because we were a little late with our preparations so this just shows how we are making good progress.
“We kept our shape and stuck to the game plan and showed great character for what we were going up against and I am very proud of my players.”
Butterfield's decision to bring on Brangman and Simmons in the second half paid off as the pair delivered a one-two punch that dropped Hornets to the canvas.
“They made me look good,” Butterfield said. “That's what I try to preach, that everybody is important and have a role to play as a team to bring us through.”
Hornets dominated possession in the first half as Cougars packed numbers behind the ball and relied heavily on the pace of Battersbee and Albouy on the counterattack.
Kisohi Trott dived to his right to save Blankendal's header from a Damon Ming cross from a short corner, while Goater just failed to get a boot on to another Ming cross as the Cougars defence was again exposed at the set-piece.
Those chances came back to haunt Town who were forced to chase the game after Albouy slammed a Battersbee rebound off a defender into the top left hand corner of Cyamde Davis's goal to cap off a successful counter attack.
The game opened up with both teams going close as the first half drew to a close.
Williams picked out Goater with a long pass up the middle but the striker dragged his effort wide, while at the opposite end an unmarked Albouy headed Zari Simmons's corner over the bar.
Williams went close to equalising for Town with a 30-yard blast that violently shook the crossbar just moments after Cashun Brangman side-footed Battersbee's pullback wide from point-blank range when scoring seemed easier.
Town tweaked their shape at the start of the second half with Angelo Simmons, the captain, replacing Goater as the sole striker and Ming playing in a more attacking midfield role.
The ploy worked like a charm as Hornets gave Cougars a taste of their own medicine when Blankendal equalised with a tap in from close range.
Goater squandered a golden opportunity to put Town ahead when he dragged Simmons's precision pass into the side netting.
It proved to be Goater's last act as he picked up a second booking for a late challenge on Smith to leave his team a man short with plenty of time remaining.
Cougars left it late before finally capitalising on their numerical advantage.
Brangman restored his team's lead after controlling Battersbee's short pass and firing past Davis.
Simmons made certain there would be no way back for Hornets when he slotted in from close range with his second touch of the ball after coming on for Albouy with virtually the last kick of the match.
Dandy Town (Blankendal 47)
Devonshire Cougars (Albouy 19, Brangman 90, Simmons 90)
Dandy Town (4-3-3): C Davis — C Burgess, D Williams (sub: S Darrell, 75), K Lathan, D Ming — J Swan, K Davis (sub: D Bascome, 62), A Simmons — E Blankendal, K Tucker, T Goater. Substitutes not used: E Moore, J Amory. Booked: Ming. Sent off: Goater.
Devonshire Cougars (4-5-1): K Trott — D Williams, K Franks, Zekiro White, Z Simmons — J Smith (sub: N Carmichael, 77), Z Simmons (sub: L Brangman, 65), Zeko White, C Brangman, C Albouy (sub: N Simmons, 90+3) — M Battersbee. Substitutes not used: X Outerbridge-Smith, H Stevens-Carty, S Jones. Booked: Williams, Franks, Zeko White.
Referee: A Francis.