Zebras give hope to chasing pack
Caisey Castle maintained PHC Zebras' unbeaten record with an equaliser against Devonshire Cougars to cancel out Jawonday Smith's opener at Devonshire Recreation Club in the Premier Division yesterday.
Although the home team surrendered a lead, Omar Butterfield, the Cougars coach, believes it was a “positive result” for his side.
“We were coming off a run of bad results, having conceded six goals in our last two games, so a draw was a positive result to get us back on track,” Butterfield said.
The opening stanza, although played very spiritedly by both teams, saw very little in the way of clear-cut scoring chances.
Cougars used the small field to their advantage, playing with a very compact defence and leaving little space for the league leaders to operate in.
Jomiko Mallory, the Cougars striker, found himself as the only man forward for much of the first half and apart from a wayward shot and an unsuccessful penalty appeal, the home team offered very little in attack.
PHC, who were well organised defensively, were a little more cohesive in attack but could not find that piece of quality in the final third to break down their opponents.
The second half was a lot more open than the first, and it took only nine minutes for Cougars to break the deadlock.
The hard-working Mallory was able to get a step on his marker down the left flank and cut inside the box.
His hard, low cross was met perfectly at the back post by Smith who had the simple task of tapping into an empty net from three yards.
Although well-deserved, the lead never looked to be secure against a Zebras team who had scored 31 league goals coming into the match.
PHC pressed a visibly tiring backline, bringing on fresh legs with a double substitution in the 59th minute.
The move paid dividend when substitute Castle rose in the box to head a Marco Warren cross into the bottom corner of the net, bringing his team back on level terms. With plenty of time remaining, it was the visiting side who looked more likely to snatch a late winner. Midfielder Warren had a shot saved by the goalkeeper after being played in by Tre Ming.
Moments later Cougars were barely able to clear their lines after a goalmouth scramble and then, in the dying minutes, Ming was unable to put a diving header on target at the back post.
Cougars' only other chance came late from the boot of substitute Lamont Brangman, whose angled shot from the left forced a fingertip save from PHC goalkeeper Quinaceo Hunt.
Ultimately, Cougars' resilience earned them a hard-fought point, but more significantly, slowed down the league leaders, allowing the chasing pack to gain ground.