Dream draw for Paget and Rangers
A First Division team will reach the FA Cup final for the first time since 2007 after promotion chasers Paget Lions and Southampton Rangers were pitted against each other in the semi-final draw yesterday.
It was the tie that both clubs and many neutrals wanted, with Rangers midfielder Quadir Maynard and Paget's Kevin Tucker breathing a sigh of relief as they heard the Lions follow Southampton out of the draw.
Rangers beat North Village 3-1 on Sunday, while Paget defeated BAA 4-2 on penalties on Saturday night following a 1-1 draw after extra time.
The other match will pit holders PHC Zebras against Robin Hood. The Zebras beat Dandy Town Hornets 3-0, while Hood came from behind to beat St George's 2-1 in the other quarter-final on Sunday.
The semi-finals will be played as part of a double-header on March 13, the venue to be confirmed by the Bermuda Football Association in the next few days.
Rangers also beat Premier Division side Devonshire Cougars on their way to the semi-finals and Maynard, a key player in their push for promotion, is looking forward to the semi-final with Paget, who also play at Southampton Oval.
“We'll take anybody, but Paget are in our league so it gives us a better chance of progressing to the final,” Maynard said.
“We're happy with the draw, it's kind of easy for us, but I feel we had the hardest draw, Cougars and Village. I would have taken anyone, but Paget it is.”
Paget were knocked off of top spot in the First Division when they suffered a 5-0 loss to BAA, although revenge was sweet six days later when they beat BAA on penalties to reach the last four for the first time.
Rangers and Paget, who will meet again in the league on March 3, drew 2-2 in their first league meeting before Rangers beat their tenants 2-1 in the Shield Trophy final.
Both teams are two wins away from becoming only the second First Division team to win the FA Cup, something Devonshire Colts achieved 11 years ago when they beat Boulevard 2-0 in the final.
Colts also won the Shield and First Division titles that season under captain Shannon Burgess who, ironically, stood next to the FA Cup as he made the draw as chairman of the Competitions Committee at the Clyde Best Centre of Excellence yesterday.
“We're all excited about what's about to happen in the semi-final draw,” Burgess said prior to the draw. “Less than a month ago we talked about four First Division teams progressing to the quarter-final stage.
“Now here we are again with two First Division teams in the pool of four for the semi-final draw.
“I recall when Devonshire Colts were drawn against St George's in the semi-final in 2006-07, which guaranteed a First Division team progressing to the final.
“Devonshire Colts defeated St George's [2-0] and went on to win the FA Cup, the first and only First Division team to do so. Obviously the intrigue is there.”
Colts also reached the 1988 FA Cup final as a First Division team, but lost to Somerset Trojans in a replay. Prospect reached the final as a second-tier side, after Cougars beat them in the semi-finals but had the result overturned after fielding an ineligible player, Kori Goddard, who collected a third yellow card in an earlier game and should have missed the game through suspension.
Maynard, who joined Rangers this season after helping Young Men's Social Club achieve promotion last season, is involved in another promotion bid, possibly with another cup final as a bonus.
“I'm very happy at Rangers; it took me to adjust, but I feel I'm at my peak right now,” said the 24-year-old. “Social Club, I wish them good luck, but I didn't feel it was right for me to stay with Social Club.
“Rangers have something big going on and the opportunity came.
“Things are working out pretty good and I don't regret it at all. We're moving on up and I feel we can get promoted.
“Who knows, we can probably win the FA Cup. Promotion is our No 1 priority, everything else is a bonus.”