North Village survive late pressure to win under-15 Leonard DeRosa-Holder final
Somerset Under-15 1 North Village Under-15 2
North Village survived a late avalanche of pressure from a resilient young Somerset Trojans to lift the Under-15 Leonard DeRosa Holder Cup following an exhilarating final at Devonshire Rec.
Among the context of a festive, holiday atmosphere, the match was an intriguing, brilliant tale of two halves with Village dominating the first half with their size and strength only for the west enders to shake off their timidity and find a path back after half time.
It took barely a minute for the young Rams to lay down an initial marker when a through ball up the middle from centre-back Jabri Hayward caught the opposing defence ball watching, allowing Tiago Correia to spring free on a breakaway run and deftly nudge the ball past an advancing Khy Bean.
Stunned by the early turn of events, Somerset continued to sleepwalk through the early moments.
Correia almost doubled his side’s advantage in the 15th minute, this time wreaking havoc on the right side of the penalty area and dispatching his marker with a few deft touches and a startling turn of pace, only to watch his angled strike toward the far post roll inches wide.
Somerset gradually found a degree of footing, with Naijae Armstrong causing anxious moments among the Village back line after 25 minutes when he wriggled free on the right and unloaded an angled drive that just missed.
Village made good their reply moments later when a searching ball found Daeshun Landy deep on the left side in Somerset territory, the winger dribbling along the goal-line to eventually free himself and surprise goalkeeper Bean in shooting from the slimmest of angles and finding a crack at the near post for a 2-0 half-time advantage.
“We tried to start as we would any other game, without thinking of it as a cup final so that we could take away that pressure,” explained Village coach Marlon Dill of his squad’s early success. “We started off fast. Our game plan was to get in behind them as quickly as possible and it paid off with some clean finishing from Tiago.”
The second half would not go as smoothly as complacency among the Village camp appeared to set in, while Somerset’s hunger for a taste of their own success grew.
“We became a little unbalanced and unfocused and went a little bit away from our game plan, which benefited Somerset,” said Dill.
The west enders welcomed that drop in intensity and in the 52nd minute they had the ball in the back of the net following an intricate attacking move but the goal was disallowed after Laziyae Jones-Smith was adjudged by referee Amaury Majors to have handed the ball prior to his shot.
Eleven minutes later there would be no doubt as to the legitamacy of Somerset’s goal, as Belboda Raveneau headed down a Jones-Smith corner for captain Michari Tear-Deleon to leave goalkeeper Simmons no chance to defend his drive.
Now in the ascendency, Somerset continued to press home their advantage, forcing Village to the brink of collapse, with a goal seemingly imminent but only some resolute defending by a defence marshalled by Justin Sukdeo made it possible to preserve the lead until the final whistle.
“Our goal was to match their intensity and as they pressed hard we pressed even harder,” said Sukdeo, noting how he never felt truly threatened despite the pressure. “We were able to increase our physicality and demonstrate our superior fitness in winning those battles.”
Meanwhile, for Somerset it was a case of coming close, but being unable to decisively mount the final hurdle.
“We definitely took too long to kick in, but once we got the goal in the second half we played the much better football, which we should have started doing a lot earlier,” said Tear Deleon post match. “We definitely were more intense and had more chances in the second half.”
Disappointed but with head held high, coach Danvers Seymour gave kudos to his opponents.
“First of all I give credit to North Village,” he said.
“They’re a well drilled, fit team that did an excellent job. It took us a little while to get comfortable but towards the end of the game we got stronger and stronger. In the first half we were knocking the ball around and I thought that mistakes cost us in regard to the goals that they scored.
“We take nothing away from them, they seized on the opportunities and put them away, that’s football. I thought that if we better minimised our mistakes that it would allow us more into the match and that’s what happened, we just came up a bit short.”
For Dill and his young men, the victory completed a task that they had given themselves at the start of the season.
“We set some goals and objectives at the start of the season,” said Dill. “We started with small things and just kept building each game. This was definitely along our train of thought in how were were preparing for the game and it’s great to see it come to reality at this point.”
Correia was deservedly named as the North Villages’s Most Valuable Player, with midfield schemer Daion Swan DeSilva Somerset’s MVP.
Said Correia of his honour: “I have history in football and I just push myself to play my best so that the team can be the best.
“The whole team deserve to be MVP, not just me. I work on my game a lot, but not just for my benefit, but to benefit the team as a whole, so that we can all enjoy moments like these.”
Somerset: M Tear-Deleon 63
North Village: T Correia 2, D Landy 26
Somerset: K Bean, N Armstrong, D Bean, Z Brown, D Swan-DeSilva, M Tear-Deleon, P Dill, J Belboda Raveneau, L Jones Smith. Substitutes: J Gibbons, A Outerbridge, A Piggot, T Fubler.
North Village: J Simmons — T Correia, D Coddington, D Todd, D Landry, C Mouchette, J Sukdeo, T Bean, J Hayward, J Butterfield, J Desouza. Substitutes: N Bean, I Trott, D Johnston, S Fischer, J Watson, J Williams. Booked: J Williams.
Referee: A Majors