PHC begin title defence with narrow win over St George’s
PHC 1 St George’s 0
Premier Division champions PHC got the defence of their title off to a perfect start on Saturday night.
Forward Keishon Bean was the match-winner, firing home a rebound from the edge of the penalty area after Enrique Russell’s initial effort was pushed away by veteran shot-stopper Jahquil Hil with about 15 minutes remaining, and the goalscorer was keen to point out the impact of substitutes after the match.
“Everyone that came on stepped up and did their job,” Bean said.
“That is why we got the victory we needed. We needed to come out after half-time with some fire. We instituted a press, as we knew we had the fitness to go after our opponents, and the subs added a little bit more energy to the game.”
St George’s started the stronger of the two, knocking the ball around confidently without any real penetration as a result of lack of cutting edge or decisive idea in the final third.
Their best opportunity came when midfielder Kashe Hall found Jibri Salaam in space on the right wing, but forward Ryan King could not direct his header on target enough to test goalkeeper Quinaceo Hunt.
The away side continued to dictate the tempo for much of the first half, although PHC started to engage further forward as the game wore on, allowing the attacking threats of Jenico Sealey, Jaheim Iris and Keishon Bean to utilise their skills with more regularity.
That forward intent would not yield anything tangible for striker Ryan Hassell to feast on, thus forcing him to drop into midfield or run the channels effectively to have any real impact in an attacking sense.
Even though the visitors held greater possession, they lacked the creativity and cutting edge to break down a strong and aggressive Zebras defence, which was forced to temporarily change into a back three when captain Daren Usher was replaced by De-Aun Lodge because of injury about midway through the period.
PHC’s half-time introduction of Enrique Russell drastically changed the tempo and momentum of the game, giving more balance to their attack and allowing them to play in more forward areas.
The midfield duo of Kadeem Abraham and Dionte Dowling got forward with more regularity, which created overloads for PHC when they were in possession. Hassell was also far more involved in the attacking play as they attempted to unlock an equally resolute St George’s defence.
Bean thought he had picked out Russell to break the deadlock midway through the half, but the winger’s strike was well blocked by Philip Anderson.
The breakthrough finally came when substitute Demetrius Richardson threaded a pinpoint pass through for Russell, who had switched wings with Sealey.
Russell took a touch and drove a powerful strike towards goal, but Hill could only palm the ball straight into the path of Bean, who curled a low effort into the far post through a line of St George’s defenders.
The East End side tried hard to get back into the game but failed to break through a compact Zebras midfield which showed composure to slow the game down once they regained possession in the final moments.
Zebras head coach Quincy Hunt was thrilled to come out on top of a cagey affair.
“St George’s are a good team and they finished in the top three of the division last season,” Hunt said.
“We expected a tight battle. We are dealing with a lot of injuries and suffered another few today,, but the team pushed through, stepped up and got the result.”
PHC Zebras: Bean 76
PHC Zebras (4-2-3-1): Q Hunt 6 – D Smith-Lightbourne 7, D Usher 5 (sub: D Lodge, 17min 6), M Simmons 6 (sub: A Burgess, 71; sub: C Nesbitt, 89), D Dowling 7 – J Ebbin 5 (sub: E Russell, 46 6) , K Abraham 6 – J Sealey 6, K Bean 7, J Iris 6 – R Hassell 6 (sub: D Richardson, 71). Substitutes not used: S Trott, S Nisbett. Booked: Bean
St George’s (4-4-2): J Hill 6 – A Simons 6, P Anderson 6, M Paynter 6, A Francis 6 (sub: D Lodge, 46 5) – J Salaam 5, K Hall 6, K Minors 5 (sub: N Paynter, 89), J Bassett 6 – P Simons 6 (sub: J Carlington, 61 5), R King 6. Substitutes not used: W-Z White, G Wade, W Broadley, M Landy. Booked: Salaam, King, Anderson, M Paynter.
Referee: A Francis.