Cardel Henry’s patience rewarded with late heroics for holders Rangers
Southampton Rangers 4 Somerset Eagles 3 (aet)
Substitute Cardel Henry scored the winner midway through the first period of extra time as Southampton Rangers, the Friendship Trophy champions, overcame Somerset Eagles in a thrilling tie at Southampton Oval yesterday.
The teams shared four goals in the first half as Eagles shocked their hosts with a goal in the opening minutes from striker Tahj Wade. And after the teams were still level after 90 minutes, when Jarazinho Bassett’s header cancelled out a brilliant effort from Nathan Rego in the second half, Henry struck the final blow in a see-saw match with his clean finish from inside the box.
“At no point was I feeling nervous, I was ready for the game, this was my old team that I was playing against,” said Henry, an 86th-minute replacement for youngster Diaje Hart.
“I was sitting on the bench waiting for the moment. Nine times out of ten when I play against them I score.”
This was one of Henry’s rare appearances of the season, but now he is looking forward to more action, after helping them get promoted two years ago, having joined them from Eagles that same season.
“I’m finally here now and starting to pick it back up again,” he said.
The match was only four minutes old when Eagles took a surprise lead on a well-taken goal at the far post by Tahj Wade who steered his diving header past goalkeeper Troy Hall Jr, who was making his Rangers debut after a late transfer from Eagles. Captain Anwar Telford created the opening with his perfect cross from near the right touchline.
That game opened up the game and Rangers responded superbly, with two well-taken goals in the space of five minutes to lead by the half-hour mark. Before that Eagles were denied a second goal in the 20th minute when Hall tipped Rego’s effort over the bar.
At the other end Jarazinho Bassett’s shot at the near post saw Pele Williams save with his legs.
After Dion Stovell shot against the post, defender Maquel Nisbett-Tankard scored a good goal to draw Rangers level, before Stovell put them ahead four minutes later when his shot from 25 yards found the net despite Williams getting his fingertips to the ball.
Chances kept coming at both ends, with a header at the far post glancing off defender Kadeem Abraham’s head and going wide following a Wade free kick.
Eagles kept coming forward with confidence and were rewarded four minutes before the half and four minutes after the restart to lead again 3-2. Striker Marcus Iris-Simmons got their equaliser just before the break when a through ball from Telford sent him through as the offside flag stayed down.
Iris-Simmons carried on into the box and kept his composure to score past the advancing Hall. Despite being forced to replace Wade at the half because of a groin injury, Eagles kept up the pressure early in the second half and were rewarded with probably the best goal of the game when Rego curled a brilliant effort into the far corner after taking a short pass 25 yards from goal.
Rangers were quickly back on the attack, with Stovell chipping a free kick on the 18-yard line over the wall before Williams tipped it over the bar.
A game of twists and turns had a couple more in the space of a minute when Rangers produced another equaliser in the 69th minute, with Damon Ming’s chip over the defence finding Bassett at the far post to score with a header to make it 3-3. Moments later Jensen Rogers, the Eagles coach, was shown a red card for obstructing Stovell as he got ready to take a throw-in near the Eagles bench.
“I got the ball and he blocked me, nothing too serious, we’re close friends,” said Stovell of his former Paget team-mate.
The momentum was now with Rangers who enjoyed a period of pressure without finding a way through the Eagles defence.
They finally produced the winner seven minutes into extra time when Henry, held off a challenge on the right side of the box before shooting low into the far post.
Eagles’ best effort came twelve minutes into the second extra time period when Telford blasted just over the crossbar. Rangers held on for the final minutes in one of the most exciting games of the season to secure a quarter-final tie with St George’s on December 20.
Southampton: Nisbett-Tankard 24, Stovell 29, Bassett 69, Henry 97
Somerset Eagles: Wade 14, Iris-Simmons 42, Rego 49
Southampton (4-3-3): T Hall – M Nisbett-Tankard (sub: R Sampson, 103min), M Burch, T Manders, D Frost – Q Maynard, V Perinchief (sub: J Warren-Smith, 98), D Ming – D Stovell, D Hart (sub: C Henry, 86), J Bassett. Substitutes not used: S Bean, K Harrison , R Wright, J Hill. Booked: Burch.
Somerset Eagles (4-4-2): P Williams – S Lambert, A Morrissey, K Evans, K Abraham – D Simmons (sub: D Joell, 86), S Greenidge-Smith, A Telford, N Rego – T Wade (sub: K Durrant, 46), M Iris-Simmons (sub: E Fubler, 82). Substitutes not used: R Saggar, T Smith.
Referee: A Francis