Justin Bell gets Village over finish line
North Village 3 St George’s 1
Champions North Village Rams began the defence of their league title with a comfortable win over St George’s Colts at Bernard Park yesterday.
A light drizzle and small crowd greeted the players as they finally took to the field to start the 2021-22 season.
Two goals in the first half gave Village a half-time lead but an early strike one minute into the second half from Osagi Bascome put them on the back foot for the rest of the game until Justin Bell scored on a counter-attack in the 88th minute to secure the points.
“Overall, I was pleased with our performance,” Village coach Kenny Thompson said. “We took a two-goal lead into the half and initially set up to withstand any pressure they were going to force on us, but we didn’t expect their goal to come so soon. St. George’s had found the energy and we had to wait and manage it, which we did! In the end, we got the three points, which is what we were aiming for, so I’m pleased.”
Village let their intentions be known as early as the second minute when Bell forced St George’s goalkeeper Freddy Hall to rush off his line and make a desperate save after being put through by youngster Owen Bothelo.
Hall was not as lucky with the opener as Ian Simmons played a through-ball to Jaizel Smith-DeShields, who kept his composure to beat the advancing goalkeeper before slotting the ball into the net from an angle.
St George’s almost scored the equaliser when Village stand-in goalkeeper Pierre Smith was challenged for an air ball by Bascome only for it to bounce in the six-yard box. Village defender Jalen Harvey made a desperate clearance that hit the underside of the crossbar before being cleared to safety.
Village doubled their lead near the end of the half, courtesy of an own goal when defender Philip Anderson rose high to clear a cross only for the ball to slice off his head, leaving Hall stranded with the ball sailing into the roof of his net.
St George’s started the second half on the front foot and scored within a minute. Bascome’s initial shot was blocked and he followed up the rebound to curl the ball beyond Smith and into the bottom corner. It was game on!
St George’s were having some success penetrating down the Village right, forcing three corners in a space of ten minutes. They thought they had scored the equaliser when substitute Jordan Darrell beat the Village goalkeeper to a through-ball before tucking his shot into the back of the net. However, the celebrations were short-lived as the assistant referee had raised his flag. After consulting with his assistant, referee Martin Wyer disallowed the goal for offside.
Village then put the game out of reach with two minutes to go when Demitre Daniels headed the ball into the path of Bell, who beat Hall with a hard drive low into the corner of the net.
Despite the loss, St George’s coach Jarreau Hayward had high praise for his players. “Right now, I feel bittersweet,” he said. “I think it took us too long to get into the game. I think my players were initially intimidated because we were playing the defending champions, but once we started to figure out that we were on their level, we started to play our game and dominated the second half.
“We were unlucky not to tie it up, as I think we were wrongly flagged for offside, but that is how the game goes. I was very encouraged by what I saw from my team and we will bounce back.”
North Village: J Smith-DeShields 23, P Anderson og 42, J Bell 88
St George’s Colts: O Bascome 46
North Village (4-2-3-1): P Smith 7 — M Caldwell 5, T Williams 6, A Darrell 5, J Harvey 6 — I Simmons 6, V Perinchief 6 — J Bell 6, D Daniels 6, O Botelho 5 — J Smith-DeShields 6. Substitutes not used: W Shakir, K Cherrington.
St George’s Colts (4-1-4-1): F Hall 7 — N Paynter 6, P Anderson 6, T Burgess 5, J Carlington 5 (sub: J Burgess 58min 4) — D Signor 5 — O Bascome 6, A Heyliger 5, W Broadley 5 (sub: J Darrell 69 6), L Dill 5 (sub: J Brangman 46 4; sub: S Blair-Paynter 74) — J Bassett 6. Substitutes not used: K Ottley, E Signor. Booked: D Signor.
Referee: M Wyer.