Youthful Colts punish Eagles with clinical second-half display
Somerset Eagles 0 Devonshire Colts 4
Devonshire Colts made a huge statement with this resounding performance against an experienced Somerset Eagles team to run out easy winners at White Hill Field yesterday.
Albeit all four goals were scored in the second half, it was their early dominance and possession that laid the foundation for the victory, much to the delight of coach Ray Jones.
“We had control of the game from start to finish but first half we weren’t rotating the ball fast enough, which allowed them to stay in the game,” he said. “We discussed it at the half and within the first five minutes, we were 2-0 up.”
Jones added: “Once we changed the gears and pace, we took control of the game. I am really proud of the guys. At the end of the day, I think this was their best performance so far this season.”
The game started evenly poised as both teams took team to execute their game plan. Colts preferred to keep possession and play through their midfield while rotating the ball to make their opponents chase, and the Eagles resorted to playing a more attacking game, trying to knock the ball behind their opponents’ defence.
Eagles had the first real threat at goal when striker Tahj Wade dribbled his way into the box, but held on to the ball too long instead of getting the shot off when the opportunity presented itself. He would run the ball outside under pressure from Colts defenders.
Moments later, Colts winger Jaquari Paynter made a darting run down the right flank but his low cross scrambled across the goalmouth untouched.
Eagles should have taken the lead through captain Anwar Telford midway through the half when a threaded pass found him one-on-one with Colts goalkeeper Jahniko Francis, but he slammed his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
Colts thought they had scored just before the half when Eagles goalkeeper Lorenzo Lambert allowed Rahzir Smith-Jones’s drilled free kick to slip through his hands, but a defender was first to the ball to clear off the line.
Colts were the more dominate team during the half but had nothing to show for it by way of goals. They started the second half a more determined team and scored two quickfire goals within the first five minutes of the restart.
Veteran centre back Mike Williams sent his wing back, Richard, Jones on a run down the left flank and his low cross into the box was met by Jahzardae Samuels, who slammed the ball into the net without breaking stride.
Before the Eagles could “settle their nest”, Colts struck again when Chemari Henry’s cross from a throw-in was partially cleared to Smith-Jones, who controlled the ball at the top of the box before hitting a firm drive that took a deflection of a defender to wrong-foot the goalkeeper before settling in the corner of the net.
As the game progressed, Colts were happy to knock the ball around to force their opponents to use up energy chasing. Wade tried to revive Eagles with daunting runs down the middle but lacked the support from his team-mates, as a lack of fitness was starting to show.
In his frustration, Eagles midfielder Dupray Joell was booked for his second reckless tackle and sent off, leaving his team to play the last 20 minutes short.
Colts capitalised on the one-man advantage and scored their third minutes later when Samuels’s dribble to the goalline drew goalkeeper Lambert to the near post only for the ball to be squared for Smith-Jones to side-foot into the open net.
Eagles should have had a consolation goal when substitute Marcus Iris-Simmons had his shot blocked with Telford on hand to follow up, but Francis did well to smother the ball at his feet.
Samuels scored his second to close out the game as time ticked down when he ran on to a long, diagonal pass to slip the ball under the outrushing goalkeeper into the empty net.
By this time, Eagles were chasing shadows and welcomed the final whistle. The win moved Colts four points clear of the relegation zone and leaves Eagles struggling near the bottom with only three points from seven games.
Devonshire Colts: Samuels 47, 89, Smith-Jones 48, 76
Somerset Eagles (4-4-2): L Lambert – A Morrissey, D Woolridge, T Wilson (sub: M Iris-Simmons, 58min), K Abraham – S Greenidge-Saltus (sub: R Saggar, 78), A Telford, D Joell, E Fubler (sub: K Durrant, 50) – T Wade, N Rego. Substitutes not used: S Lambert, D Simmons. Booked: Joell. Sent off: Joell.
Devonshire Colts (4-2-3-1): J Francis – J Paynter, Z Burgess, M Williams (sub: C Trott, 76), R Jones – J Salaam, J Burgess – J Samuels, R Smith-Jones, C Henry (sub: C Crichlow, 78) – B O’Connor (sub: L Thomas, 65). Substitutes not used: E Weldon, A Hart, J Maybury, T Axelsen. Booked: Henry.
Referee: G Swainson.