Marco Warren gets deserved reward as PHC make it to Friendship Trophy final
Somerset 1 PHC 2
PHC claimed the remaining spot in the Friendship Trophy final alongside North Village with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over arch-rivals Somerset at Bernard Park.
PHC captain and midfield dynamo Marco Warren scored the winning goal, which was actually a free kick designed as a right-wing cross, but it deceived Trojans goalkeeper Jade Morrissey in flight and bounded in off the far post.
“I was crossing it, but I got the luck and sometimes luck favours those who put in the work,” Warren said.
It may have been a fortuitous winner but it was just reward for Warren as days earlier with rain cascading and most finding shelter indoors, he took to the practice pitch, where he spent several hours preparing for the anticipated muddy conditions and honing his free-kick technique.
“I was out in the rain for four hours the other day practising, figuring that Sunday’s conditions might be mucky,” said Warren, who’s arduous practice habits are legendary. “With the free kick I was a bit fortunate, but I put in the hard work and it was well deserved.
“I’m just happy to help my teammates get into the next round and play another game of the heritage explosion at PHC.”
While PHC emerged victorious, the early stages favoured Somerset as they took full advantage of opponents who appeared to be sleepwalking, dominating play with pace and defined patterns of play, which resulted in them going ahead in the 13th minute through Jahiem Iris.
Striker Jahkari Furbert was allowed to roam unimpeded down the left flank and send in a firm cross that PHC centre-back Jaylon Bather was unable to connect with. That allowed the ball to pass to an onrushing Iris inside the penalty area and the forward was as surprised as any when the ball ricocheted off of his right shin into the goal, leaving goalkeeper Coleridge Fubler a bewildered spectator.
Somerset continued to dictate the play with Iris and Furbert consistent threats up front, while Simeon Burrows demonstrated creativity in midfield alongside Joellan Greaves, Jomari Gooden and Jeze Butterfield and veteran Damon Ming offered cause for concern with the occasional overlap from his defensive post.
Zebras finally awoke from their slumber in the 30th minute as Paul Simons produced a bit of magic for the equaliser, which turned out to be the tonic which brought the 12-time champions to life.
Bather sent forward a searching free kick from inside the PHC half that found Simons loosely marked near the top right edge of the penalty area. The forward was able to exhibit one-touch control before turning and offloading a near-post thunderbolt that Morrissey knew little about.
At half time the scoreline stood at 1-1, but with both teams ready to resume play, normal proceedings were delayed due to a spectator in the south-west corner of the grounds suddenly falling ill and having to be treated on site before being transported away via St John’s Ambulance.
Now fully energised, Zebras increasingly began to assert their authority on the match, while Somerset’s effort conversely waned.
T’ysi Showers stood as a constant threat on the left flank, while Warren was his mercurial self, relentless in his will to win and demanding the same from his comrades.
Still, it was the introduction of Jenico Sealey as a 53rd-minute substitute for a jaded Keishon Bean that seemed to turn the tide, with the former bursting through and firing just wide two minutes after his introduction and moments later forcing a desperate, diving save from Morrissey.
With PHC increasingly appearing the more likely to score, it was left for Warren to emphasise his squad’s superiority on the day with his unintended 77th minute goal.
“Above tactics and above all strategy, sometimes you have to just grind the game out,” added Warren. “Cup games are the strangest games in the world and today was a testament to that.”
PHC coach Winston Trott spoke to the sloppy conditions as having contributed to the slow start by his charges, but was satisfied with the end result.
“I think it took us a while to adapt to the conditions and once we got a hold of what we could and couldn’t do, then we started to play,” said Trott. “It was a difficult game. Somerset came to play and it came down to who had the greater will to win.
“We made a few changes on the pitch in the second half, which gave us more drive and allowed us to get forward quicker.”
Left to commiserate an opportunity lost were Somerset, although coach Scott Morton remained encouraged in his outlook for a young squad already with the Dudley Eve trophy in hand and much to strive for in the second half of the season.
“It’s football. You win some and you lose some,” said Morton after the match. “PHC are always a respected opponent. We had a gameplan, which you saw right at the beginning. But it’s up to the players to carry that out especially in the difficult moments.
“You expect to have waves of play where sometimes we dominate and sometimes they dominate, but the strong mentalities have to take over in being consistent.
“I’ve told my players to keep their heads up, because all of the other teams who are not in the competition wish they were in our position, so don’t think only about the result.
“It may be difficult to think otherwise, but it’s my job to help them to understand the other positives that will get them to these positions, so that they can keep growing.
“Losing helps one to win, so I have to help them see what that looks like and to realise the success moments within the game that helps us build.”
Somerset: J Iris 13.
PHC: P Simons 30, M Warren 77.
Somerset (3-5-2): J Morrissey 5 -- D Ming 6, J Ratteray Smith 6, M Joell 6 -- J Butterfield 6, S Burrows 6 (sub: D Wainright, 58min 5), J Gooden 6, J Greaves 6 (sub: K Joyiens, 66 5), M Joell 6 (sub: E Mendes, 81) -- J Furbert 6, J Iris 6 (sub: J Shields, 81). Substitutes not used: K McNeil, D Swan, A Morrisey. Booked: D Ming, J Gooden, M Joell.
PHC (4-3-3): C Fubler 5 -- D Usher 6, M Lambe 6, J Bather 6, D Smith-Lightbourne 6 -- D Dowling 6, K Abraham 6 (sub: A Astwood, 89), M Warren 8 -- K Bean 5 (sub: J Sealey, 53 7), T Showers 8, P Simons 7. Substitutes not used: WS Trott, J Joseph, K Mathie, C Booth.
Referee: G Swainson.