Jaizel Smith-DeShields scores brace to put dent in PHC’s title hopes
North Village 2 PHC Zebras 2
After breathing down the back of Dandy Town’s neck for the entire season, PHC Zebras left Bernard Park on Sunday with their league title hopes hanging by a thread, after they were held to a draw by a battling North Village.
The visitors missed a golden opportunity to replace idle Town at the top of the standings and send the title race right down to the wire, with the teams due to face each other in their final league outing of the season this weekend.
However, Town can now clinch the title with a game to spare with victory against relegation-threatened Devonshire Colts at Goose Gosling Field on Monday night.
PHC have no one but themselves to blame for their position after wasting several opportunities to put what was a scrappy match, played in torrential rain, beyond Village’s reach.
The misses kept Village in contention and the dethroned champions ensured they had a say in where the title may end up, after clawing their way back from a two-goal deficit to salvage a hard-earned point.
Striker Jaizel Smith-DeShields was Village’s hero, scoring both goals to lead the Rams’ fightback. This after PHC had shot into a 2-0 lead in the first half through goals from Antwan Russell and Enrique Russell.
Kenny Thompson, the Village coach, hailed his players’ character and indicated that some half-time introspection helped fuel their impressive rally.
“We showed a lot of character to come from two goals down,” Thompson said.
“We were really disappointed at half-time mainly from our own performance first of all because we were playing well enough to be in a position where we could have taken the lead.
“The first goal came from an error on the back line and it was a little frustrating at that point because we felt like from our performance at that point we didn’t deserve to be behind.
“And then the second one just before half-time was a little disappointing because we felt that it was offside. Maybe if there’s some video out there that shows otherwise we could be wrong. But we felt that it was offside so we were really disappointed to be down at half-time.”
Village managed to put the setbacks behind them and turn their fortunes around to come away with a share of the spoils and throw a giant wrench in the works for Zebras, who will be cheering on Devonshire Colts tonight in their contest against Town.
“We focused on getting the first goal in the second half and then after that we felt definitely that we could get two,” Thompson added.
“So the players showed a lot of heart and it’s really good to see certainly from our perspective in this game.”
Winston Trott Jr, the PHC coach, declined to comment.
PHC drew first blood with their first raid on goal against the run of play.
Jaheim Iris broke away down the right side and squared the ball in the middle where fellow forward Antwan Russell made no mistake from approximately 12 yards.
Antwan Russell missed a golden opportunity to double the visitors’ advantage when he sliced Marco Warren’s cross wide, while standing right in front of the goal.
Enrique Russell also brought out a reflex save from Village goalkeeper Detre Bell at the far post.
Village enjoyed their share of possession and caused the PHC defence some anxiety with their probing balls in the attacking third.
But they fell further in arrears under controversial circumstances when Enrique Russell’s goal was allowed to stand although he appeared to be standing in an offside position.
Village’s protests fell on deaf ears but the hosts came out swinging in the second half and showed their intention when PHC goalkeeper Coleridge Fubler was forced to rush off his line to block Justin Bell’s shot.
PHC squandered a glorious opportunity to kill the game off when Antwan Russell broke free. But rather than shoot he unselfishly passed to striker Enrique Russell, who had the ball cleared off his boot. Warren then dragged wide from an angle with only Bell to beat.
These missed chances proved costly as Smith-DeShields cut the deficit when he pounced from close range on a rebound that came off the post.
Warren went close with a free kick at the other end before Smith-DeShields grabbed a last-minute equaliser, much to the delight of the Town entourage that was on hand at the ground.
North Village: Smith-DeShields 76, 90
PHC: A Russell 4, E Russell 45
North Village (4-3-3): D Bell 7 – J Harvey 7, T Fray 7, Q Lema 7, K Knights 7 ‒ V Perinchief 7, T WilIiams 7, I Simmons 7 – P Smith 7 (sub: O Botelho 66min 7), J Bell 8, J Smith-DeShields 8. Substitutes not used: O DeShields, R Sampson. Booked: Harvey, Simmons, D Bell, Williams, Botelho, K Thompson (coach), D Tankard (coach), R Sampson.
PHC Zebras (4-1-4-1): C Fubler 7 – D Smith-Lightbourne 7, R DeShields 7 (sub: N Griffith 73), M Lambe 7, S Trott 7 – M Joell 7 (sub: T Ming 80) – K Abraham 7, M Warren 8, J Iris 7 (sub: D Usher 80), A Russell 7 – E Russell 8. Substitutes not used: S Trott, K Hypolite, D Lodge, I Taylor. Booked: A Russell, Iris, Shakhai Trott, Smith-Lightbourne.
Referee: M Wyer.