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Town and Parish setting the pace at halfway stage

Southampton Rangers goal scorer Cardel Henry is challenged by Devonshire Cougars pair Jecoa Thomas (right) and captain Zeko White during Tuesday's match at Devonshire Rec. Cougars and Southampton Rangers are two teams with different aspirations this season. Cougars are third in the standings and Rangers third from bottom and relying on the likes of Henry in their fight to avoid the drop. (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Local football will reach the halfway stage of the season this weekend with Dandy Town leading the Premier Division by four points over PHC while five teams could potentially be battling to avoid the three relegation spots before the end of the campaign.

Already the season has gone further than it did last year when it was stopped in early December because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which remains with us as a new variant, Omicron, taking hold.

Crowds have been down because of restrictions but the excitement has certainly been there as Town set the early pace with seven straight victories before North Village handed them their first loss of the season on Monday, a 2-0 defeat at Bernard Park.

It was Village’s first win since November 7 when they defeated X-Roads and only their third of the season.

Town needed an injury time winner on Wednesday night to get past a determined Robin Hood side 2-1 and return to their winning ways, but indications are that the title race might just be closer than was anticipated a couple of weeks ago when the Hornets were flying high.

“Hood played well, I’m not going to take anything away from Hood, but sometimes you have to get ugly wins,” said a relieved Town assistant coach, Jay Bean, following Wednesday’s win.

“Sometimes wins are not always the best, I don’t think we have hit heights yet, played our best yet, but we keep squeezing out wins and as long as we keep doing that hopefully the true form will come through.”

The win wasn’t secured until four minutes into stoppage time when Town scored through Terrence Webb, who converted from close range following a free kick.

“Sometimes there is a little drama, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Bean admitted.

“I’m just glad we were on the right side of the drama tonight. Monday we weren’t, another dramatic game [against Village]. We bounced back and will look to continue on in the next game.

“We went through a good run and as much as we wanted to be undefeated, everybody else wants to play too, we’re not the only team in the league. We’re not as young as Robin Hood but we have some young guys too.”

A year ago Hood, with seven wins and a draw from eight games, were wondering what the outcome of the season might have been as they were leading Devonshire Cougars and PHC by five points with a game in hand when the season ended before the halfway stage.

The subsequent exit of 13 players along with the departure of coach John Barry Nusum, left Hood with plenty of rebuilding to do with a very young squad.

They sit just above the relegation zone and will certainly face a stern test in the second half of the season when they will look to add to their eight points.

“It’s progress, if you look at where we started and where we are right now,” said an optimistic Richard Todd, the Hood assistant coach, following the Town loss.

Dante Leverock, their player-coach, will be a key figure in their defence as he leads from the front.

“Having such a young group and his (Leverock) ability to still be on the field and guiding and directing them is very important,” said Todd, who did the guiding from the bench.

“He is cutting his teeth in terms of coaching and it’s going to be a good experience for him. We’re pleased with the youngsters, we’re in there and competitive with all of the teams.”

Hood have a three-point lead over Southampton Rangers just above the relegation zone, Rangers hit even harder when they too, lost the bulk of their team to summer transfers, as 17 players departed.

New coach Dwayne ‘Streaker’ Adams has been tasked with trying to save them from relegation against the odds. They have a win and two draws from their nine games but also have the worst defensive record with 29 goals let in already.

“We’ve just got to stop those goals going in and try to take more opportunities,” Adams said after Tuesday’s loss to Cougars.

“The players now just have to continue to believe. I think we have a big second half but we have a strong team in Town on Saturday and then after that we have to be focused and hungry to do the business.

“The teams are very close, we just need to look at where we are and manage it. We started slow, started late and we have an older team so back-to-back games hurt us from a man-management standpoint.”

Two matches will be played tomorrow, Rangers versus Town and PHC against Cougars before three more fixtures on Sunday.

Somerset Eagles host X-Roads in a bottom-of-the-table clash at White Hill Field, while Hood take on North Village at Goose Gosling Field and St George’s welcome Devonshire Colts to Wellington Oval.

There are still a couple of games outstanding, with the St George’s-Somerset Trojans match, which was postponed on December 19 because of the murder of St George’s footballer Osagi Bascome that weekend, being rescheduled for next Wednesday. The X-Roads-Devonshire Cougars match was also not played that weekend.

The Bermuda Football Association announced that the St George’s match will be a Somerset home game (8.00pm), the first of two league meetings between the teams in ten days as they will also meet in the return fixture on Saturday, January 15 at 3.00pm at Wellington Oval.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Parish lead the First Division promotion race by eight points over three teams, Young Men’s Social Club, BAA and Boulevard, who all have 13 points.

BAA, who have a game in hand on the other three, picked up two victories over Christmas, thrashing Ireland rangers 7-0 on Monday and then beating bottom team Paget 4-1 on Wednesday.

Riley Robinson opened the scoring for BAA in the fourth minute before Hunter Outerbridge doubled the lead on the hour mark. Victor Capitillo made it 3-0 before Jelani Simmons pulled one back in the 66th minute.

An own goal from Linton Miller in the 75th minute made it 4-1 to BAA, after a block by the Paget goalkeeper on a Caleb McDowall shot struck Miller and went into the goal. Minutes later McDowall missed a penalty when he shot straight at the goalkeeper.

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Published December 31, 2021 at 10:56 am (Updated January 03, 2022 at 8:06 am)

Town and Parish setting the pace at halfway stage

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