Morton and Boyles battle to open account
Coaches Scott Morton and Devarr Boyles will get their last chance this season to win a first trophy with their new clubs when PHC and North Village meet in Sunday’s FA Cup final at the National Stadium.
PHC will be making their third appearance in a final this season, losing in the Dudley Eve and Friendship Trophy finals to Devonshire Cougars, before losing out to Robin Hood in the league. Hood beat PHC in the league in late February though the Zebras got revenge recently when they eliminated the holders in the FA Cup semi-final with a resounding 3-0 victory as captain Cecoy Robinson scored a hat-trick.
PHC then drew 1-1 with Village in the league before closing out their campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Dandy Town last weekend — the perfect build-up for the final against one of their biggest rivals.
“Those two performances did put us in good standing for our last match against Dandy Town and that’s why we were able to convert five goals,” Morton said.
“We missed at least ten goals and had, like, five clear breakaways so that is encouraging, knowing that as a team we can get multiple goalscoring opportunities.
“You can’t ask for much more than that, other than the players being able to convert those chances. Performance-wise, yes, totally satisfied with those last three performances against Robin Hood, North Village and Dandy Town. Even though we drew against Village it was by far one of our better performances.”
PHC finished level on points with Robin Hood but missed out on the Premier Division title because of an inferior goal difference.
“We have since put that behind us, that was a couple of games ago when we knew it was out of our control,” Morton said. “We have moved on to allow ourselves to prepare properly for the final.”
The Zebras will be hoping fortunes change in their third final appearance this season, following 1-0 losses to Cougars.
“I appreciate just being in another final, that’s always a bonus, letting you know as a team that the work you put in has been worthwhile,” Morton said. “Now we have to look at it as just another game because sometimes if you want it too much you can lose focus.”
PHC have the most FA Cup wins, ten, while Village are tied with Somerset on nine wins. PHC and Village have met just twice in the FA Cup final, Village winning both, 3-1 in 1978 and 2-1 in 1989. This will be PHC’s nineteenth appearance in the final while Village have played in 13 finals, the last in 2014 when they lost 1-0 to Dandy Town.
Both teams have potential match winners, including captains Robinson and Keishen Bean. Also outstanding for PHC this season has been young midfielder Marco Warren while Village can look to front player Shayne Hollis and veteran Ralph Bean as two other potential match-winners for them.
“Cecoy has that killer instinct as far as wanting to take the game on his shoulders and score goals,” Morton said. “That’s something you can’t coach and we try to assist him with the other parts of the game to help his game be more complete, the build-up and helping out defensively.
“He’s worked hard and made a lot of adjustments on his own game for the benefit of the team.”
Both Robinson and Bean could be used in midfield or up front, where Robinson was unstoppable with his pace against Robin Hood recently. “Right now I can’t say, it depends on how training goes, how people perform and what we feel is the best fit for that day,” Morton said of his role for Robinson.
Warren was rewarded with a debut for the senior team against the New York Cosmos recently. “He’s been phenomenal, he demands a lot of attention and we’ve seen teams try to double team him but I’ve just allowed him to bring his creative skills,” his coach said.
“We just formulate our style of play based on all the players we have. We give the players a basic framework and they are allowed to be creative within that. We have to remember that fans come out and pay to watch us play and it is our job to entertain them.
“It is important for us to provide the crowd with a good show, we just have to understand when to adapt and when to adjust.”
Boyles, Morton’s former team-mate at Dandy Town, is also trying to land a first trophy in his first season at his new club.
“Getting to a final is important if you want to be a top club and certainly North Village want to be a top club,” Boyles said.
“Getting to a final you have a 50-50 chance of winning and we’re hoping we can tip it slightly in our favour ... He [Morton] has two opportunities already, he’s had a really good year.
“For North Village we talked about three goals for the season, one was to get a certain amount of points which we surpassed. For us to win the league we had to get into an area that was barrier-breaking and we didn’t. It came down to four games and we won two of the four, which was when the league left us as far as being in our own hands.”
Boyles added: “Overall it has been a good year, from last year to where we are now. In our first few games we only had 16 players because there was a mass of players who left, one of the clubs with the highest amount of players transferring.”
Keishen Bean has been one of the club’s most consistent players and will be key to the team’s success on Sunday.
“I knew he was a quality player and on his day I think he is the best,” Boyles said. “I’m really pleased with the leadership he provides within the group and I know on Sunday he really wants this and will find a way to help the group and himself to be successful. He’s the ultimate team player, that’s what I’ve been most impressed with.”
Sunday’s match will start at 4pm and will follow the PDL Knockout Cup final between Devonshire Colts and PHC at 2pm. Dandy Town won last year’s final, beating Devonshire Cougars 5-4 on penalty kicks after the score was deadlocked at 1-1.