Hood strike early to seize top spot
Robin Hood 1 PHC Zebras 0
Shannon Burchall's first-minute goal was enough to send Robin Hood to the top of the Premier Division table on Saturday night.
Jason Simons, the Hood goalkeeper, sent a powerful goal kick all the way into the penalty area that the PHC defence were slow to react to, and Burchall quickly pounced and produced a simple finish at Goose Gosling Field to give his side an early lead that Zebras could not come back from.
PHC tried to hit back swiftly, but Cecoy Robinson and Tre Ming were constantly shackled by the Hood midfield. With their own midfield supply line shut down, Zebras were unable to provide the telling passes that their speedy forwards live off of.
After the break, the PHC coaching staff appeared to make some tactical changes that allowed Robinson and Ming to find space.
Robinson instantly provided a brilliant pass that put forward Idrees Sharrieff in on goal, but Sharrieff's shot was cleared off the line by Ereico Outerbridge, the Hood full back.
Then, Robinson, was able to get into the box, but could only manage to get off a tame shot which was easily caught by Simons.
With Robinson and Ming finally being able to make their presence felt, it looked as if it would only be a matter of time before Zebras would find the equaliser.
However, they were almost caught out by Hood again. After Daniel Andrade was fouled on the edge of the area, Darius Cox stepped up to take the kick, but faked it and left Antwan Russell, the Hood forward and former Zebras captain, to fire in a powerful effort which drifted just inches wide of the top left corner of the post.
PHC were still continuing to dominate possession and were creating the best chances, but were unable to convert them. First, Robinson chipped over the bar from a good position after a quickly taken free kick, then Ming put his shot wide after getting on the end of a great through ball from Robinson.
Hood midfielder Nathan Peskett then followed suit, by sailing his shot from the edge of the box into the netting behind the goal.
PHC brought on Keishon Bean and Kadeem Abraham and Hood responded by bringing on winger Shakir Smith, the former Zebras player, for goalscorer Burchall. Abraham almost made an immediate impact, but his header from close range was saved by Simons.
Na'eem Griffith, the Zebras defender, then had a header collected by the Hood goalkeeper as PHC continued to ask questions of the Hood defence.
On a day when PHC really needed a cutting edge, their typically razor sharp frontline deserted them.
With only three games remaining in the season, Hood may have delivered a decisive blow to PHC's hopes of securing a tenth league title, while making their hopes of a maiden championship a little more realistic.
“It [the game] went according to plan,” said Timmy Figuerido, who was in charge of Hood in the absence of coach Kyle Lightbourne, who was in Costa Rica with Bermuda Under-20.
“We came up with a plan to stifle [PHC] and try to nick one and it worked out perfect,” he said. “PHC have had our number for some time and so it is good to get one over on them, but it is still a long way to go, with three more league matches.
“We have Somerset [Trojans] away, [Somerset] Eagles at home, and then Boulevard away, and those will not be easy matches, so it's going to be interesting.”
PHC coach Scott Morton reflected on his side's first league loss of the season, and what it could mean in the context of the title.
“We didn't start off well,” he said. “In the first half, I really appreciated the way Robin Hood played, I haven't seen them play like that in a long time, they definitely gave us a good match
“The results never dictate, as far as, what we do, but I appreciate the good fight that they brought that allowed us to show our character.”
Asked what this loss does to his side's title hopes, Morton remained unshaken. “Absolutely nothing.
“We are still in position to win the title. This is our first loss, so we just have to take it and move on,” he said.
Robin Hood (4-3-3): J Simons – J Pereira, D Cox, C Fosker, E Outerbridge – N Peskett, C Ryan, D Brangman – S Burchall (sub: S Smith, 70min), A Russell, D Andrade. Substitutes not used: J Titterton, N Figureido.
PHC Zebras (4-2-3-1): S Dill – J Ball, N Griffith, M Lambe, D Usher – T Ming, M Waldron – R Deshields (sub: K Bean, 65), C Robinson, Jaavaid Warren-Smith (sub: K Abraham, 75) – I Sharrieff. Substitutes not used: Q Hunt, D Davis, D Smith-Lightbourne. Booked: Deshields.
Referee: G Swainson.