Robinson spot on as Hood left heartbroken
PHC 2 Robin Hood 1
PHC Zebras reached a third straight Friendship Trophy final when captain Cecoy Robinson slotted home a penalty in the final minute of extra time against Robin Hood at PHC Field yesterday.
Penalty kicks were looming in the fading light before Marco Warren's dazzling run into the area was ended by Colin Ryan's challenge.
Referee Anthony Francis pointed to the spot and Robinson tucked his penalty to Jason Simons's right to seal the win after 120 gruelling minutes of football in front of a big Boxing Day crowd.
“We knew it wasn't going to be easy, we appreciate what Robin Hood bring, they bring the best out of us,” Scott Morton, the PHC coach, said. “It wasn't a pretty game to watch but sometimes that's what these cup games bring. I try to focus more on my players and not too much on the referee's calls because I'm not in the best position, and sometimes it's difficult to see that. The referee called a penalty and even if it was the opposite way, you have to live with it.”
The chances were few in a fast-paced first half as Warren headed over after Robinson's cross from the right in the opening minutes. Hood had one of their best chances just before the half when, from an Antwan Russell corner on the right, Lozendro Symonds pounced on a poor clearance and volleyed over the bar.
PHC were forced into a substitution at the start of the second half when Casey Castle, who took a knock and needed treatment, did not return after the break, with Marquel Waldron replacing him in midfield. Lejuan Simmons, the Hood captain, set up a good chance for Mazyhe Burchall, one of three former PHC players in the Hood team, but he shot over the bar.
Minutes later PHC broke the deadlock when Tre Ming spotted goalkeeper Simons off his line and from 40 yards lobbed the ball over him before it bounced just inside the goalkeeper's left-hand post, with Simons looking over his shoulder.
The goalkeeper redeemed himself somewhat a couple of minutes later when he made a good save to deny a shot from Robinson. From the corner defender Rakeem DeShields put his free header just over the bar.
Late second-half pressure from Hood kept the game wide open as Russell took a pass from Simmons before putting his effort on the turn into the side-netting. Then substitute Nathan Peskett saw his shot deflect off a team-mate and go out for a goal kick, before he had another effort blocked by the diving Quinnaceo Hunt.
Persistence paid off for Hood a minute later when college student Liam Evans drove home his effort from close range after pushing forward from defence.
Hunt made another good save in the opening minutes of extra time when he denied Simmons who shot was headed for the near post. At the other end Cory Booth, a second-half substitute for PHC, saw his lob over the advancing Simons drop over the bar. The match was finally settled in the final minute of extra time when Robinson converted the penalty earned by Warren's run into the box.
“It makes it hard when guys put in the hard work only to have a penalty in the last seconds be the deciding factor,” said Hood coach John Barry Nusum, whose father Johnny Nusum is a former PHC stalwart.
Both coaches expressed concerns to referee Francis after he played less than 14 minutes in the first period of extra time, allowing a Hood player to receive treatment after ending the half.
“They played well, had a lot of the ball in the first half, but in the second half we came back into the game,” Nusum said. Hood defender Jaylon Bather was sent off after the final whistle for foul and abusive language towards the referee.
PHC Zebras (4-5-1): Q Hunt — D Usher (sub: K Matthie, 77min), R DeShields, N Griffith, K Abraham — T Ming (sub: C Booth, 70), C Castle (sub: M Waldron, 46),
M Warren, K Bean, J Hassell — C Robinson. Substitutes not used: S Trott, M Lambe, K Hypolite, I Sheffieff. Booked: Hassell.
Robin Hood (4-3-3): J Simons — E Outerbridge, L Evans, J Bather, S Smith — Z Burgess (sub: C Caisey, 58), C Ryan, L Symonds (sub: D Andrade, 82) — M Burchall (sub: N Peskett, 66), A Russell, L Simmons. Substitutes not used: J Titterton, J Pereira, J Nusum, C Ricca. Booked: Outerbridge, Russell, Peskett. Sent off: Bather.
Referee: A Francis.