Valiant ten-man Village maintain unbeaten run with hard-fought point
Devonshire Cougars 2 North Village 2
North Village extended their unbeaten start to the new season after earning a hard-fought point at Devonshire Cougars despite playing the entire second half with ten men.
After Jalen Harvey was sent off for handling on the line and Domico Coddington scored from the resulting penalty to give Cougars the advantage at the break, Village rallied with Nacori Smith levelling immediately after the interval before Justin Bell put the ten men ahead with a penalty of their own in the 71st minute.
But they were denied what would have been an impressive victory against the odds as Cougars captain Zeko White headed home an equaliser to snatch a point and spare his side’s blushes.
Despite seeing their flawless run brought to an end, Village captain Tahmi Williams hailed his side’s attitude in the face of adversity.
“We showed great spirit with ten men, we’re still unbeaten and still top of the table,” Williams said.
“We talked a lot in the changing room at half time about what we needed to do. We knew we had to press hard and keep fighting. It’s a decent result when you look at it but I think we were unlucky not to get the win.
“I have to hold up my hands and take some accountability because I messed up at the end by giving away the foul which they equalised from but to keep that unbeaten run intact with seven wins from eight is what was important because it keeps us at the top of the table. This result also gives us something to build on ahead of another massive game with St George’s.”
In a frantic start to the match, Village created the first opportunity when London Steede raced clear only to dither on the ball and allow Coddington to make a vital last-ditch tackle.
At the other end Detre Bell was called into action, brilliantly tipping Che’Kai Caisey’s goalbound glancing header around the post, while Lejuan Simmons also went close when his curling effort from the left whistled narrowly past the far post.
As the half wore on momentum swung back to Village with Bell’s inviting driven ball across the goalmouth only missing the vital finishing touch but as the half looked destined to end without a breakthrough, Cougars were literally handed the chance to break the deadlock as Harvey diverted Jazario Brimmer’s goal-bound effort off the line with his left hand.
Jamaican referee Neressa Goldson was left little choice but to dismiss the defender for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity and award a penalty, which Coddington tucked away.
Despite the setback and numerical disadvantage, Village found themselves level almost immediately after the break as Smith cut in from the right-hand side before beating Keitaro Darrell with a vicious, dipping left-foot strike.
Buoyed by the equaliser, Village's pressure told as they were awarded a penalty of their own after Bell was hauled down inside the area after a darting run into the box. The forward picked himself up and dispatched the spot kick with aplomb to give his side the unlikely lead.
With a little more than ten minutes remaining, Cougars got themselves level as captain White rose highest to head Lejuan Simmon’s inviting free-kick from the left into an empty net.
That sparked a nervy final ten minutes for the visitors whose goal came under siege as Cougars piled on the pressure.
Despite the onslaught, Village held firm with Bell reacting smartly to save Zari Simmons’ close range header and Jaizel Smith-Deshields found himself in the right place at the right time to brilliantly head Simmons’ effort off the line.
Devonshire Cougars: D Coddington 44, Z White 78
North Village: N Smith 48, J Bell 71
Devonshire Cougars (4-2-3-1): K Darrell 6 – Z White 7, C Caisey 7, J Thomas 6, D Coddington 7 – Zari Simmons 6, D Daniels 6 (sub: N Furbert 79) – L Simmons 8, Che’Kai Caisey 7, J Brimmer 6 (sub: N Carmichael 69min 6) – E Darrell 6 (sub: J Fox 72). Substitutes not used: J Eve, J Furbert-Wade, Zion Simmons, Nyeem Simmons. Booked: L Simmons, Zari Simmons.
North Village (4-5-1): D Bell 8 – T Williams 7, K Knights 7 (sub: T Wilson 74), T Fray 7, J Harvey 5 – S Somner 7, T Ming 7, N Smith 8, L Steede 7 (sub: I Simmons 74), J Bell 8 (sub: S Lambert 88) – J Smith-Deshileds 7. Substitutes not used: K Harrison, T Bean, A Dos Santos. Booked: N Smith, J Bell Sent off: J Harvey
Referee: N Goldson (Jamaica).