Smith in at the deep end after late transfer
Absent from the PHC line-up this season, Shakir Smith is set for an eagerly awaited first match of the campaign on Sunday at PHC Field ... in Robin Hood colours.
Smith is one of the late transfers who became eligible on Tuesday to play for their new clubs, with the wide player following through with a move to Hood despite PHC's good start to the campaign that has left them unbeaten after five games and leading North Village on goal difference.
Kyle Lightbourne, a former PHC player and coach, is happy with the signing of Smith, whose pace should be an asset. “Shakir said he was going to leave PHC at the end of the season, but he took a little too long to make his decision and ended up being a late transfer,” Lightbourne said.
“We're happy to have him on board, a true left-sided player, which is what we've been playing without for quite some time. Last year when [PHC coach] Mark Wade stepped down, he wanted to wait to see who was the new coach coming in. In the end, he decided to move on to Robin Hood.
“I'm hoping he can make a big impact for us. He's been training with us from the beginning of the season, played a few Corona League games, and ironically the first match he plays for us will be against PHC.”
Lightbourne says the novelty of going up against his former team is wearing off after a few seasons as Hood coach, but he is looking forward to the match that will be the first time he will take a team there since the ground reopened last year.
“Last year I missed the game at PHC because I was off the island. They put in a lot of work up there and have slowly but surely moved back home.”
Hood, third, are also unbeaten and are looking to build on last season's runner-up league finish. With Dandy Town, the champions, playing away to North Village, Hood are in a position to close the gap on the top two.
“This year it definitely looks like it is going to be more teams [competing],” Lightbourne said. “We're undefeated, they're undefeated, North Village are undefeated, so it should be a good game on Sunday. We're just looking forward to the game; it's going to be a tough one.”
Hood will be without Ereico Outerbridge for the next couple of games, after he suffered a gash above his eye in a clash of heads with Khimo Harrison, of Somerset Eagles, during last weekend's preliminary round Friendship Trophy match, which Hood won 2-1. Outerbridge required stitches to close the wound to his eyebrow, while Harrison also received stitches for a head wound and will miss upcoming matches.
North Village will also have their coach and a late transfer going up against their former club on Sunday when they host the league champions at Bernard Park. Devarr Boyles, the coach, is a former Town player and coach, while Lashun Dill returns to top-flight football after a spell in the Corona League with Butterfield & Vallis United. Dill had previously been a Town player before leaving in 2011 to join Village.
Town, too, will field a late transfer, with Kwame Steede, the former Devonshire Cougars midfielder, now eligible to turn out for the league champions who are still without a win in the league this season. Their one point from five matches leaves them 12 points adrift of the leaders.
Boulevard, fourth in the standings, travel west to meet Somerset Trojans as the two teams clash for the second straight weekend. Sunday, Boulevard blew a late 4-2 lead in the Friendship Trophy to allow Somerset to seal a dramatic 5-4 victory at Police Field with three goals in the final six minutes.
It meant that one of the finest individual performances of the season, Ian Coke scoring all four goals for Boulevard, went for naught.
Somerset Eagles are at home to Flanagan's Onions at White Hill Field, while in the other match Devonshire Colts and Devonshire Cougars meet at Police Field.
Cougars are fresh off their triumph over PHC in the Dudley Eve Trophy final. Colts, Onions and Town sit in the bottom three, still without a win.
PHC Field will also host Young Men's Social Club, who are attempting to extend their league record to six wins out of six when they take on Wolves in the First Division. Social Club sit alone at the top of the standings after St David's suffered their first league loss last time out to Southampton Rangers.
St David's face another tough test when they entertain X-Roads, while Southampton, who have climbed to third, host unpredictable St George's Colts at Southampton Oval. Hamilton Parish play bottom team Ireland Island Rangers in the other match at Wellington Oval.
BAA meet Paget at Goose Gosling Field tomorrow night at 9pm.