PHC Zebras cling to victory as St George’s Colts threaten fightback
St George’s Colts 2 PHC Zebras 3
A fast start enabled PHC to hold off a late charge from St George’s in a five-goal thriller at Wellington Oval on Saturday.
The Zebras owed tremendous debt to attacking midfielder Kadeem Abraham, who notched a hat-trick, scoring twice in the first half and again early in the second to give his side what seemed an impervious three-goal cushion.
But demonstrating great resolve,St George’s stormed back late with a pair of strikes that dazed their fading opponents, with an earlier missed penalty the difference between a draw and defeat for the Colts.
St George’s had the first go at goal in the third minute with Jonte Smith rolling an effort inches wide of the mark, but that only served to awaken Zebras, who promptly moved ahead through Abraham three minutes later.
A finely-threaded through ball from Jalun Hasell discovered Abraham at the right edge of the penalty area and spotting goalkeeper Jahquil Hill advancing off his line, the midfielder demonstrated exquisite touch in lobbing the keeper.
Barely had St George’s time to shake the cobwebs from the early blow when they were again floored by Abraham, this time power and placement modes utilised, as he unleashed a 20-yard thunderbolt from 20 yards that rocketed past a forlorn, outstretched Hill.
With Abraham, De-Aun Lodge and captain Marco Warren controlling the midfield, T’ysi Showers and Shavon Nisbitt -- an early substitute for an injured Hassell -- threatening on the flanks and the defence doing well to shackle St George’s danger-man Jonte Smith, PHC went into half time in prime position.
“From the start we wanted to win the midfield and we won the midfield,” said PHC coach Winston Trott of the team’s first-half dominance. “Kadeem played really well. He popped up at all the right times and did the job he was asked.
“He positioned himself well to do his job and when he was required to attack he attacked and had a good all-around game.”
Just after the break the east enders spurned a gifted opportunity to pull back a goal when they were awarded a 53rd minute penalty after Malachi Trott was brought down in the penalty area by Jaylon Bather, but Kashe Hall drove his effort wide of the mark.
Ten minutes later Abraham made the hosts rue that miss, this time using his head to find the mark, as he got on the end of a floated free-kick into the box by Warren.
Down by three and their leading marksman effectively throttled and with time running short, St George’s appeared dead and buried. But that was not the case as the home side threw everything forward, with the introduction of Keishon Wilson and Mahaj Paynter injecting spark to their attack.
After Tyrell Burgess bundled the ball across the line during an 85th minute goalmouth scramble, Wilson offered the chance of a spectacular comeback when his side-footed shot from ten yards out found the back of the net three minutes later, but time expired on the resurgence.
Despite the loss St George’s coach Jarreau Hayward was encouraged by the resilience shown by his troops.
“Definitely a tough loss, but it’s something we can learn from,” said Hayward after the match. “We took too long to play our game. Once we started to play our game I thought we were able to push them back and we scored two quick goals.
“We’re a new team. We’re emerging and still growing and it’s a good step the way we ended the game.”
Not particularly regarded as a goalscorer, Abraham was pleased to be the match winner.
“Just working for the team and giving the guys what we needed today,” said Abraham. “We knew it was going to be tough and it required hard work, grit and fight and that’s what I tried to bring.
“I was able to take my chances. I’ve been doing a lot of shooting in training and it looks like it paid off.”
The victory was a positive rebound for PHC and restored them among the league’s upper echelon.
“We knew what was at stake today,” added Trott. “We want to stay with the leaders and you have to beat the teams that are above you and the teams that are doing well, so this was a good win.”
St George’s: T Burgess 85, K Wilson 87.
PHC: K Abraham 6, 12, 63.
St George’s (4-1-3-2): J Hill 6 -- T Burgess 6, N Paynter 6, J Burgess 6 (sub: M Paynter, 70min 6) D Signor 6 -- C Neal 7 -- K Hall 6, J Dickinson 6 (sub: K Wilson, 76), M Trott 6 -- B Hall 6, J Smith 6. Substitutes not used: J Brangmn, M Landy, S Blair-Paynter, D Lodge, W Broadley. Booked: J Burgess.
PHC:(4-3-3): C Fubler 6 -- D Usher 6, N Griffith 6, J Bather 6, D Smith-Lightbourne 6 -- M Warren 7, K Abraham 9, D Lodge 6 (sub: D Dowling, 68) -- J Hassell (sub: S Nisbett, 12 7), T Showers 7, K Bean 6 (sub: S Trott, 76). Substitutes not used: W Trott, M Lambe, S Trott, K Lewis. Booked: M Warren.
Referee: A Francis.