BAA clinch promotion
Somerset Eagles 2 BAA 5
BAA clinched promotion to the Premier Division for the first time in more two decades with a game to spare after coming from behind to beat Somerset Eagles at White Hill Field yesterday.
Anwar Telford gave the home side the lead from the penalty spot late in the first half.
But BAA hit right back with two goals inside of a minute from Troy Tucker and Tyrell Burgess to take a 2-1 advantage into the break.
Geno Smith's own goal early after the restart made it 3-1 for the visitors before Telford converted his second penalty of the match to cut Eagles's deficit back to one. However, that was the closest the home side would get as Laquan Thomas came off the bench and scored two goals inside of six minutes to put BAA out of sight.
“The guys have shown great commitment throughout the season so we just had to make sure we got across the line,” Andrew Bascome, the BAA coach, said. “I thought they (Eagles) moved the ball around good in the first-half so I told the group at the half to be patient and make sure we have good balance and good position and catch them on the break.”
Burgess, the BAA captain, was delighted to see his team-mates reap reward for the hard work they have put in.
“Hard work pays off, that's it!” Burgess declared.
“The boys deserved it. They have been coming week in and week out and we just reaped our awards.”
BAA last played in the top flight during the 1994-95 season.
“It's been a long ride, but we are satisfied with the hard the players have put in, and having Andrew on-board this season has just been amazing,” Kenny Thompson, the BAA technical director and former Eagles player and coach, said.
“We are ecstatic to now have clinched promotion and we did it by sticking to our principles and values.”
BAA have a three-point lead and a superior goal difference over second placed Paget Lions with one round of First Division matches to play. BAA host third placed Southampton Rangers in their season finale at Goose Gosling Field while Paget are at home to lowly Ireland Rangers at Southampton Oval on April 1.
“We have Rangers at home last game so we can just go out there and respect the principles of the game and enjoy,” Bascome said.
BAA were the firm favourites going into yesterday's league encounter with Eagles.
But they certainly had their work cut out for them against as Eagles held their shape and frustrated the leaders with their physical approach.
The home side were awarded a penalty after Daniel Johnson, the BAA goalkeeper, fouled Azar Morrissey in the box and Telford made no mistake from the spot.
Eagles's joy was short-lived, however, as the visitors responded with a quick one-two punch that left the home side dazed.
Morricko Iris ran into space out wide and whipped in a cross which fellow midfielder Tucker swept in from close range in heavy traffic.
Before the dust settled Eagles found themselves chasing the game as Burgess beat Lorenzo Lambert, the Eagles goalkeeper, to a long ball played forward and slotted into the empty net.
Eagles dug themselves in a deeper hole early in the second half when central defender Smith flicked a cross into his own net.
BAA conceded a second penalty after Ian Simmons, the BAA midfielder, handled in the box which Telford buried to set the game up for a potentially close finish.
But any hopes Eagles had of making further inroads were dashed as Thomas struck a late double salvo to kill the game off and spark his team's promotion-clinching celebrations.
Telford 40 pen, 80 pen
Tucker 41, Burgess 41, Smith 50 og, Thomas 82, 88
Somerset Eagles (4-5-1): L Lambert — A Furbert (sub: A Wilkinson, 31min), G Smith, L Burch, S Lambert, E Fubler (sub: S Johns, 80), A Morrissey (sub: K Fray, 78), C Henry, D Simmons, A Telford, D Wainwright. Substitutes not used: J Rancourt, S James. Booked: Lorenzo Lambert, Shentoine Lambert.
BAA (4-5-1): D Johnson — J Salaam, Z Robinson, S Somner, Q Lema, M Hardtman (sub: L Thomas, 65), I Simmons, T Tucker, M Iris, D Bascome, T Burgess. Substitutes not used: E Correia, E Vieira, A Darrell, A Carvelho, M Brangman, A Kempe. Booked: Somner, Simmons.
Referee: L Christopher.