Battle on for Dudley Eve semi-final spots
Dandy Town and Devonshire Cougars need just a draw on Sunday to advance to the semi-finals of the Dudley Eve Trophy, but that point will be hard to come back against last season's top two teams, PHC and Robin Hood.
The second round of matches at Bernard Park could determine the first teams to advance to the last four or leave the four places wide open going into the final group matches on September 25 when opening-day losers, Boulevard and X-Roads, play their final matches.
Cougars beat Boulevard 2-0 on September 2 before Town thrashed X-Roads 6-0 in the second match, X-Roads' first appearance in the competition after finishing fifth last season.
Town return to the same ground hoping for another good result against PHC, the league champions. They beat PHC twice in the league last season after the Zebras defeated them in the Dudley Eve where they lost both their group matches and failed to advance.
Town sent out an early warning about their intent this season, the 6-0 win the biggest win of the early season. Goals have been aplenty between the two teams lately with their last three meeting producing 19 goals, a 6-0 win to X-Roads last season before Town won the return fixture 5-2 at home in March.
PHC are entering the new season with a new coach, Robert Bean, who has taken over from Scott Morton, who resigned after last season to concentrate on his duties with the Bermuda team. Bean was Morton's assistant the past three seasons, the pair leading the club to seven trophies. Bean lost his first match in charge when PHC went down to Robin Hood 3-1 in the season-opening Charity Cup.
PHC will have their internationals Cecoy Robinson and Marco Warren available after their trip to Panama with Bermuda last weekend for their Concacaf Nations League match. Robin Hood also had three players in the international set up — goalkeeper Dale Eve, defender Jaylon Bather and forward Lejaun Simmons.
Devonshire Cougars face an equally tough match when they meet Robin Hood in the 5pm match as they go up against a former player, Chae Brangman. Hood signed the Cougars striker during the recent transfer period, with the Cougars also losing Jamel Amory to Town and Demetre Daniels who has returned to North Village.
“It's going good so far, the players are working hard,” said Vance Brown, the Cougars coach who took over late last season from Omar Butterfield. “We understand this is going to be our toughest test so far this season, but the boys are up for it.
“We'll have to be on our A game, but on the day it is eleven v eleven. Chae, from what he can offer, is a big loss, but the guys we have picked up have stepped up.”
Cougars did not do badly themselves with transfer dealings. Drewonde Bascome and Chris Caisey returned from BAA and Hamilton Parish respectively, while Andrew Samuels and goalkeeper Reid Trott also made the move from Hamilton Parish.
Cougars also picked up Jahzardae Samuels from Boulevard, strikers Jason Lee from North Village and Shaki Swan from Flanagan Onions as well as goalkeepers Ajai Daniels and Troy Hall Jr from Dandy Town. “About five of them have actually played and they have made an impact,” Brown revealed, adding that the likes of Lee and Swan are still to get started with the team.
“We've got competition in each position which is working out well.”