Elisha Darrell’s first-half hat-trick downs lacklustre Rangers
Devonshire Cougars 3 Southampton 0
Elisha Darrell continued his goalscoring heroics after his first-half hat-trick guided Devonshire Cougars to victory over Southampton Rangers at Devonshire Rec yesterday.
Fresh from scoring the winner against Dandy Town to secure the Dudley Eve Trophy in midweek, the 20-year-old was at his clinical best to put a lacklustre Rangers defence to the sword with a 31-minute treble to seal all three points.
Darrell was delighted to again play a pivotal role with the victory keeping Cougars breathing down the neck of table-topping Robin Hood — sitting only two points adrift of the early pacesetters, having played a game more.
“I was a little upset to start on the bench in the cup final but I knew my time would come and when it did I managed to take it,” Darrell said. “I built on that today; it’s definitely been a good week personally.
“Everyone in this squad wants to be starting, but we have so much quality that sometimes you have to be patient and wait for your chance.
“I managed to get into my stride today and take the chances as they came. I’m getting my chance to shine right now and thankfully I’m taking the opportunity.”
Cougars came out of the blocks firing and broke the deadlock within the first minute. Racing on to a long ball, Darrell looked to have spurned the chance with a heavy touch towards goal. However, hesitation between goalkeeper Shaquille Bean and centre half Jahkai Hill allowed the forward to get to the ball first and prod it beyond the custodian.
The frontman doubled his and Cougars’ tally in the 20th minute, volleying home from close range after being picked out brilliantly by Che-Kai Caisey’s pinpoint cross from the right-hand side of the area.
Just after the half-hour mark, the three points for Cougars were as good as beyond doubt, as Darrell completed his hat-trick. Having won possession, Cougars countered quickly with Caisey being played through on goal. His effort was saved well by Bean, only for the ball to sit up for Darrell, who tapped into the empty net.
Whatever was said at half-time in the Rangers dressing room had the desired effect, as they were unrecognisable from the opening 45 minutes.
With renewed spirit and effort, the visiting side created more than enough chances, with Jarazhino Bassett heading wide when well placed and unmarked, while both Diaje Hart and Quadir Maynard both blasted over from inside the area.
Cougars were also guilty of profligacy in the second half, in particular Lejaun Simmons, who was denied by Bean on no fewer than three occasions in one-on-one situations. Darrell also squandered a golden chance to add to his haul.
Despite the glut of chances, the scoreline remained as it was at half-time, as Rangers coach Jomar Wilkinson was left to rue his side’s lack of character in the opening 45 minutes.
“It was a very tough day for us, but hats off to Cougars because their appetite and hunger exceeded ours today,” he said.
“We just didn't show any character. When things got tough, some players just literally gave up. That’s not good enough; we need to show more character.
“Sometimes things won’t go our way, but we have to still show that fighting spirit and desire. It matters how you lose. If we’re going to lose I don’t want to lay down for another team. Today I felt like in that first half we laid down for them.”
Devonshire Cougars: Darrell 1, 20, 31
Devonshire Cougars (4-3-3): K Trott — T Tucker, Z White, L Millett, D Williams — C Maybury, Chris Caisey, Z Simmons (sub: Moses Steede, 58min) — L Simmons, E Darrell (sub: Mark Steede, 73), Che-Kai Caisey (sub: M Battersbee, 73). Substitutes not used: N Simmons, C Brangman, A Cannonier, C Albouy.
Southampton Rangers (4-4-2): S Bean — J Bassett, R Sampson, M Burch, K Harrison — D Hart (sub: J Hill 83), T Manders, Q Maynard, J Warren-Smith — C Henry, D Stovell. Substitutes not used: D Ming, S Perinchief, R Simmons, V Perinchief, T Hall Jr. Booked: Stovell, Sampson.
Referee: A Francis.