Town made to scrap by Boulevard
Dandy 2 Boulevard 1
Dandy Town advanced to their tenth Friendship Trophy final after edging out Boulevard in an evenly fought contest at Devonshire Recreation Club yesterday.
Town were in cruise control after some superb finishing from experienced pair Kwame Steede and captain Angelo Simmons earned them a 2-0 first-half lead.
However, Boulevard hit back right on the stroke of half-time when Takeyhi Walker was the first to react to a rebound from Ian Coke's saved penalty.
Boulevard asked more questions during the second period but Town hung on to reach their first Friendship Trophy final in four seasons.
“The first 15 to 20 minutes was quite good for us and typically we're known for slow starts,” Devarr Boyles, the Town coach, said.
“I thought when we were 2-0 up we just didn't find a way of managing the game, particularly when they knew the time was running down [in the first half]. There were some errors that could have been avoided.”
Another key factor to Town's victory was the superb heroics of 17-year-old goalkeeper Jaiden Manders, who made a string of saves to keep his team in front either side of the interval.
“Jaiden has done it for us all year,” Boyles said. “He's gone from strength to strength and is now the undisputed No 1.”
Town will meet the winner of the other semi-final between holders PHC Zebras and Robin Hood at Lord's on Boxing Day.
The final will be played on New Year's Day at Somerset Cricket Club.
“It really doesn't matter who we play in the final,” Boyles added.
“They're [PHC and Hood] two top teams leading divisions in every respect.
“We're in the final so we are a part of the conversation and the thing for us now is to be the big part of the conversation by winning it, so we want to win it.”
Town dominated the early exchanges and it came as no surprise when they took the lead after Steede was afforded ample time and space to arrow a low drive in at the back post from a free-kick delivery
Boulevard quickly regrouped and began creating chances at the other end where Clay Darrell, Khiry Easton and Teron Butterfield all tested Manders.
Town nearly doubled their lead against the run of play with Damon Ming and Steede both denied by the woodwork during a goalmouth scramble.
Boulevard were forced to make a substitution when striker Easton was injured in a challenge with Town midfielder Lynn Emery.
Things then went from bad to worse for Boulevard as former club player Simmons hooked in Steede's knock down in the box from Eusebio Blankendal's free kick.
Town became complacent in the closing minutes of the half and paid the price as Emery handled Darrell's cross in the box to concede a penalty.
Manders did well to save Coke's spot kick but Walker smashed in the rebound to throw the game wide open.
Still, Town had chances to kill the game off in the second half with substitute Diione Millett having a shot saved after creating space for himself in tight quarters. Simmons also shot over after being sent in the clear while Steede's shot from outside of the box brought a fine save from Burchall.
Boulevard also threatened but were denied by Manders who made two brilliant saves to thwart Coke and Ernest Trott from point-blank range.
Boulevard had a confident appeal for a late penalty after Coke went down under a challenge in the box. But referee Anthony Francis instead awarded Town a free kick and booked Coke for simulation.
Steede 5, Simmons 38
Dandy Town (4-4-2): J Manders — K Lathan, K Simmons, K Wade, E Blankendal — M Parsons, S Darrell (sub: D Millett, 52 mins; sub: J Swan, 90+3), L Emery (sub: A Furbert, 52), D Ming — K Steede, A Simmons. Substitutes not used: Neil Smith, Nahje Smith, N Spence. J Roser. Booked: Manders, K Simmons, Furbert, Swan.
Boulevard (4-4-2): R Burchall — T Butterfield, J Williams, J Crockwell, A Foggo (sub: N Augustus, 90+3) — D Taylor, E Trott, T Walker, I Coke — C Darrell (sub: A Famous, 78), K Easton (sub: Tyriko Williams, 34). Substitutes not used: Z Stovell. Booked: Darrell, Coke.
Referee: A Francis.