PHC Zebras thrash Somerset Trojans to move top of Premier Division
Somerset Trojans 1 PHC Zebras 5
PHC Zebras moved two points clear at the head of the Premier Division pack on Saturday night after a comprehensive 5-1 thrashing of an uninspired and overmatched Somerset Trojans outfit at Somerset Cricket Club.
The match was over, but for the shouting, by the end of the first half with Zebras holding a 3-0 advantage after strikes from Na’eem Griffith and Arnezha Astwood, together with a Makai Joell own goal.
For added measure, Paul Simons and substitute Keishon Bean returned to plunder two further strikes for the men in stripes following the interval, more than offsetting a solo offering from Trojans substitute Justin Corday as the home side waved early the flag of surrender.
Absent their captain and inspirational leader Marco Warren due to an ankle injury, and collectively appearing a bit worse for wear as a result of numerous battles throughout the holiday period on their way to claiming a record 13th Friendship Trophy title, PHC were simply a class above.
Conversely, despite having time to rest and refresh, Somerset failed to exhibit themselves as viable challengers to an opposition harbouring designs for a league title run.
A scrappy opening half-hour preceded the avalanche but then Somerset goalkeeper Jade Morrissey made a hash of what appeared a tame, long-range free-kick by Griffith, dropping the ball over the line to gift PHC the lead in the 28th minute.
Astwood doubled the advantage a minute into injury time and this time Morrissey could not be faulted, the attacking midfielder unleashing a searing drive from a position at the top-left of the penalty area that could have given cause to have the netting checked for damage.
Players and spectators had barely taken a breath when another bizarre goal was added to PHC’s account after Morrissey advanced with the intention to collect a harmless loose ball as Joell retreated to pass back, the result being an own-goal disaster.
“I think the final definitely took a toll on us and it showed early on,” said PHC coach Winston Trott of his team’s early struggles. “It showed tonight, where things were pretty scrappy and we took our time getting in the game, but that’s football.”
Although no masterpiece, in the second half Trott unleashed his gunners for a relentless assault on a battered, collapsing defence bereft of answers to the opposing arsenal.
With stand-in captain Kadeem Abraham fully grasping the general’s role and the likes of Bean, Simons, Astwood and Jennico Sealey willing foot soldiers, a devastating surge ensued.
And even as Corday was able to reduce the deficit by one via a 68th minute breakaway tally, the PHC’s trumpet yet blared with 78th and 90+1 minute strikes by Bean and Simons signalling the night’s crescendo.
“It took us half an hour to dig in, but just give me the points because that’s what it’s all about,” added Trott, unsatisfied despite the four-goal margin of victory. “We could have played a little better and we have some things that we will have to address and work on this week.
“We’ll definitely to take that victory, especially as we’re on the road, but it was just okay and I wasn’t happy with some of the mistakes that we just can’t afford to make.”
The result vaulted PHC above North Village -- the leaders entering the day -- as the Warwick club continues its search for a first league title since 2019, which ironically came with current Trojans head coach Scott Morton at the helm and stamped a period that yielded back-to-back league, Friendship Trophy and Charity Cup titles.
Rams have the opportunity to regain the top spot with a win over bottom club Robin Hood on Sunday but Trott’s concern lay solely with matters within his remit.
Said Trott: “We just want to get our points. We don’t care about what everybody else is doing. If we get our points we’re fine. Our destiny is in our own hands and if we get our points we’re fine.”
Conversely, for Dudley Eve Trophy winners Somerset, now losers of seven of ten league outings, there would be concern regarding several inept displays that have them languishing near the relegation zone in seventh place, just three points ahead of ninth-placed X-Roads and a mere two in front of Boulevard, the latter pair each having played a game less.
Somerset: Corday 68.
PHC: Griffith 28; Astwood 45+1; Joell 45+2 (og); Bean 78; Simons 90+1.
Somerset (3-5-2): J Morrissey 5 -- Jaz Ratteray Smith 4, Mal Joell 4 (sub: A Morrisey, 31 min 4), J Greaves 4 (sub: T Harris, 57 5) -- S Burrows 5, Mak Joell 6, K Joyiens 4 (sub: Swan DaSilva, 57 5, J Iris 5, Jad Ratteray Smith 5 -- J Butterfield 5, D Wainwright 5 (sub: J Corday, 57 6). Substitutes not used: D Swan, Q Watson..
PHC Zebras (4-3-3): C Fubler 6 -- D Smith-Lightbourne 6, J Bather 6, N Griffith 6, D Usher 6 -- K Abraham 6, A Astwood 6, D Lodge 6 -- J Sealey 6, T Showers 6 (sub: K Bean, 6 59), P Simons 6. Substitutes not used: W S Trott, J Hassell, K Mathie, S Trott, S Nisbett, E Shakir. Booked: Sealey, Bather.
Referee: D Jackson.