Nusum looks under the Hood for an extra gear
Robin Hood will be back in action tonight after less than 48 hours' rest, but the team will be full of confidence against Devonshire Cougars in the wake of a six-goal thrashing of Somerset Trojans on Thursday night.
Hood, who finished second to PHC Zebras in the league last season after winning a first championship the previous season, begin the campaign as one of the title favourites.
At Goose Gosling Field, their home patch, they produced an impressive first-half performance to blow the Trojans off the pitch with five unanswered goals on the way to a 7-1 result that all but guarantees them a place in the semi-finals of the Dudley Eve Trophy.
That will be determined on Wednesday night, when they meet Cougars again in their final group match, needing only a draw to make certain of finishing top of group B.
Such was their dominance against Somerset, Hood were able to rest captain Lejuan Simmons in the second half, knowing they face another match tonight. “‘Lee Lee' just came back from Curaçao, where he had 90 minutes out there [against Aruba],” said coach John Barry Nusum of the Bermuda player.
“We have another game on Saturday and have to manage his fitness. He's a fit guy but we don't want him to overdo it. Chris Ricca got a goal and so it was good to get some of those guys in.
“In the first half we were able to get on the scoresheet early, which settles us down and then unnerves the other team. So it was good to get that strike in. The confidence started to come and we started to play with a little bit of swag.”
Robin Hood lost the season-opening Charity Cup against PHC 2-1, but they had enough chances to win the game. They have boosted their ranks with some summer signings, including Tomiko Goater from Dandy Town, Casey Castle from PHC and Philip Parsons from X-Roads.
Parsons opened his account with the team's sixth goal against Somerset. Goater made it two goals in two games for his new club.
“Against PHC I thought we got some chances that we should have scored but didn't,” Nusum said. “I was really happy with how we played; we just didn't put the ball in the net. But we took a lot of positives from that game and were able to show the positives in a good way.
“We're ready for the league season to start, really. It's one game at a time. Yes, the league is the priority, something over a long journey, but we want to win every game and we have to play with the same intensity to try to win every game.”
Ricca came off the bench to add to the Robin Hood tally and Nusum knows the importance of depth in the squad. He had 16-year-old Tariq Bean as one of his substitutes on Thursday night.
PHC warmed up for their league opener against Boulevard tomorrow at PHC Field with a 2-0 win over Dandy Town on Thursday, a result that eliminates the Hornets from the Dudley Eve competition after a second loss. Under returning coach Devarr Boyles, Town are still seeking their first goal of the campaign.
Tomorrow they return to Goose Gosling Field to play BAA, last season's First Division champions. BAA strengthened their squad with one of the big signings during the transfer period, that of striker Keishen Bean from North Village. Bean rejoins his godfather Kenny Thompson, the BAA head coach.
Nine years ago, Bean played under Thompson for a season at Somerset Eagles, and the signing of the former Village captain is a significant boost for their prospects this season. They have kept the bulk of last year's team.
Paget, the other promoted side, will also be hoping to survive in the top flight as X-Roads did last season. They lost Tahj Wade, Travis Wilkinson and Andrew Warren from the team that won promotion, all opting to stay in the First Division with Eagles, Southampton Rangers and Young Men's Social Club respectively.
Joining Paget are David Simmons and Keanu Whitter from PHC, McKonnen Lowe and Akale Bean from Rangers, and Nico Gibbons and Errin Butterfield-Tankard from Dandy Town, who lost 14 players in the transfer period.
Paget play North Village at Bernard Park in their season-opener, with striker Dion Stovell one of those players making the switch from cricket.
He will be up against Bermuda captain Terryn Fray, who scored Village's first goal of the new season recently as the Rams, under new coach Randy Spence, beat Town 1-0 in their opening Dudley Eve Trophy match. Boulevard got six players from Town, including Ian Coke and Ernest Trott, but the returning Coke will have to wait for his first appearance because he is recovering from recent surgery.
X-Roads play Somerset in the other match at Garrison Field. X-Roads, whose scout on Thursday should have returned a verdict of “nothing to fear” from the Trojans, have boosted their firepower with the signings of St George's pair Jahron Dickinson and Donavan Thompson.
In the First Division, which started last weekend, St George's play Somerset Eagles today at Wellington Oval at 3pm, with Flanagan's Onions taking on Vasco in the first game of the double-header at Goose Gosling Field at 7pm.
Former professional Freddy Hall is back with St George's after a stint in Ireland and played against Onions last weekend, although he could not prevent a 2-0 loss.
Tomorrow in the 12.30pm kick-offs, Hamilton Parish, fresh off a 5-0 win over Wolves, play promotion favourites Southampton Rangers at Wellington Oval, while Wolves meet Devonshire Colts at Garrison Field, their new home, and Ireland Rangers host Young Men's Social Club at Malabar Field.
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