Home sweet home for Cougars
Devonshire Cougars capitalised on home advantage in the Dudley Eve Trophy final to dethrone PHC Zebras, the defending champions, at Devonshire Recreation Club yesterday.
Jawanday Smith’s 74th-minute goal separated the two sides as coach Omar Butterfield’s young Cougars side pulled off a 1-0 victory over in-form Zebras, who are top of the Premier Division on goal difference.
There was some controversy surrounding Smith’s, with referee Anthony Francis blowing for a foul on Quinaceo Hunt, the PHC goalkeeper, as the ball crossed the line.
While Hunt was receiving treatment, Francis consulted his assistant, Tashun Simons, before changing his decision and awarding Cougars the goal, much to the fury of PHC.
Despite spending the closing minutes frantically pushing for an equaliser, Cougars defence stood firm to hang on and claim the trophy for the first time since the 2008-09 season when it was the Martonmere Cup.
It was also a first piece of silverware for Omar Butterfield, the Cougars coach, who succeeded Kwame Steede at the beginning of the season.
Winning the first cup competition of the season seemed unlikely for Cougars after failing to win either of their group B matches against North Village and Robin Hood, advancing on goal difference.
But Butterfield has shown plenty of faith in his youngsters and said he was proud of their display against a more experienced PHC.
“In the first half it was pretty close but in the second half it did open up when they had a good spell of dominance,” said Butterfield, who was missing one of his most promising youngsters, Machi Battersbee who is overseas.
“I would call PHC the better team on the day, but it just shows us that we have to get better.
“It came down to heart and desire, PHC probably had the advantage but our heart and desire pulled us through, the character of our youngsters.
“The team did the job and I can’t single out just one person.”
PHC had been the favourites under new coach Scott Morton, who said his side would look to move on quickly from their disappointing defeat.
“I wouldn’t say it was a shock; two teams come to compete and victory is never guaranteed,” Morton said.
“You just have to go out there and execute your plan as best you can and try to nullify the opponents.
“But you always have things that are beyond your control, such as the referees and the assistants. I just went and had a talk with the fourth official to find out what was the call and he educated me on the rules and told me that before play is restarted, the referee is allowed to reverse his call.
“It looked like he saw a foul on the goalkeeper, but the assistant referee saw a goal and signalled to him that it was a goal and we just have to live with it.”