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‘Rangers clash could be a thriller’

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Jensen Rogers, the Somerset Eagles coach, would like his team to prove to him that his decision not to join the First Division side as a player on a late transfer was the right call.

Rogers, who took over as coach this season after captaining Paget Lions to promotion last term, was contemplating a transfer to Eagles to give them some extra experience.

Ultimately, he did not follow through with a transfer, but did end up making an unexpected first appearance of the season for Paget, turning out in a Friendship Trophy preliminary match against PHC Zebras this month.

Rogers, 34, only intended to watch match but he ended up playing while wearing the captain's armband because Paget were depleted by injuries. They lost the game 4-0 as holders PHC advanced to the quarter-finals.

“That was very last minute,” said Rogers, who is still registered as a player with Paget. “I walked through the gate to watch and support Paget and one of their representatives spoke to me about playing.

“Luckily, I carry football boots in my car! As soon as I walked onto the field it was time to play. I actually enjoyed it; it felt good to put the Paget jersey back on.

“I was going to make a decision to either transfer to Eagles or remain with Paget. From a coach's point of view, if I transferred to Eagles then I might not be showing my players that I had faith in them.

“I wanted to show the players that I believe in them and that this is their season to get promoted. I'll coach and they will play.”

Eagles meet fellow promotion contenders Southampton Rangers in the Shield semi-final at Devonshire Recreation Club at noon on Sunday.

Paget are holding their own in their first season back in the top flight, something that will no doubt inspire this season's promotion chasing teams.

“Paget worked to get a few youngsters in and it's a good balance there,” he said. “Hopefully they remain in the Premier Division and I get to see them next season.”

Rogers's former team, Somerset Trojans, are facing the threat of relegation.

“Somerset, a club very dear to my heart, looked like they are turning a screw when I went to watch them against PHC [last week] and they lost 1-0,” Rogers said. “It wasn't a bad performance and they will need to be committed and work hard because it's a fight.”

All four teams left in the Shield Trophy have won it in the past eight years. Hamilton Parish, third in the second tier, face Devonshire Colts in the other semi-final on Boxing Day, hoping to add to their three straight titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when they beat Eagles to complete the “three-peat”.

Eagles won the Shield in 2014 with victory over Devonshire Colts who claimed it at the second attempt the next year when they beat Young Men's Social Club 3-1.

Eagles' match against Rangers, two unbeaten teams, would have been a mouth-watering final.

“I'm thinking the neutrals and fans of both clubs probably will see this as a final, so I guess they are going to get an early treat,” said Rogers, whose side are second in the table. “We're coming up against a good coach in Jomar Wilkinson who has an excellent team.”

Pleased to see you: Jensen Rogers, the Somerset Eagles coach, shakes hands with Cecoy Robinson, the PHC captain, before turning out for Paget Lions in the Friendship Trophy this month (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)
Captain for the day: Jensen Rogers pulls on the captain's armband after being a late inclusion for Paget in the Friendship trophy against PHC earlier this month (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

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Published December 21, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated December 20, 2018 at 9:08 pm)

‘Rangers clash could be a thriller’

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