Bermuda Select 1 New York Cosmos 1
Bermuda Select were denied victory at the death against New York Cosmos in their friendly match at the National Stadium yesterday.
A youthful-looking Bermuda, including five under-20 players, were on the brink of claiming the prized scalp of the North American Soccer League champions until an injury-time strike from midfielder Andrés Flores.
Bermuda took a fortuitous 52nd-minute lead through midfielder Tre Ming whose hopeful punt upfield from just inside the Cosmos half caught out goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, with the ball catching the wind and looping into the net.
Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession, Cosmos were perhaps fortunate to still be on level terms at the interval with Bermuda squandering a pair of gilt-edged chances.
Midfielder Willie Clemons poked a one-on-one chance wide after making a run from deep and latching onto a superb through ball from makeshift right back Donte Brangman.
Clemons almost made amends for his miss after picking out Mazhye Burchall with a low cross which the PHC Zebras winger flicked agonisingly wide of the far post towards the end of the half.
Cosmos, playing their final pre-season match, crafted the first scoring chance of the game when the impressive Eugene Starikov wriggled his way into the box before teeing up Irvin Herrera whose mis-hit failed to trouble Stefan Dill, the Bermuda goalkeeper.
Starikov, formerly of Zenit St Petersburg, was the orchestrator of much of Cosmos attacking brio and found Herrera again with a ball around the corner but the forward’s drilled effort was saved by the feet of the busy Dill.
At the other end Bermuda’s lone striker Robert Rawlings, of newly promoted Young Men’s Social Club, was having to feed off scraps as the home side, going against the wind, created very little until Clemons’s miss midway through the half.
Cosmos went close to breaking the deadlock when defender Kalif All Hassan sent a back-post header inches over the bar after good work from winger Ayoze on the right.
On the half-hour mark, Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda Select coach, was forced into his first change of the afternoon when injured defender William White, of Somerset Trojans, was replaced by Rai Sampson.
The Village defender made a timely block with his first touch, cutting out a dangerous near-post cross with the outside of his outstretched boot.
Moments before half-time Burchall missed Bermuda’s second clear-cut with an opportunity he should have probably done better with from a right-wing cross from the energetic Clemons.
Cosmos continued to enjoy the superior swathes of possession, with half-time substitute Jimmy Mulligan twice firing over in quick succession before Bermuda took the lead.
With the wind now at the home side’s backs, Ming’s heavy boot from around 40 yards took off and somehow found its way into the net. The match descended into a scrappy and niggly affair in the second half, with tempers flaring between Ming and Herrera in the centre of the pitch, earning the Bermuda midfielder a booking.
Yellow cards were also shown to captain Jalen Harvey and Cosmos’ Antony Taylor after the pair of defenders were involved in a heated exchange as the visiting side went in pursuit of a leveller late on.
With the game deep into injury time, Bermuda showed naivety when substitute Justin Corday broke free and drove towards the Cosmos box rather than head to the corner flag to wind the clock down further.
The Trojans midfielder’s decision proved costly as he was disposed on the edge of the area, allowing Cosmos to race down the other end and score through Flores’s rebound effort after Dill had parried a fierce shot from Herrera.
There was still time for another off-the-field incident, with Lightbourne and a member of the Cosmos coaching staff becoming embroiled in a war of words after the Bermuda coach restrained a visiting player from reacting after a foul by Corday.
New York Cosmos
Bermuda (4-5-1): S Dill — D Brangman, J Harvey, W White (sub: R Sampson, 18min), N Griffith — M Warren (sub: J Corday 62), T Ming (sub: Z White 87), W Clemons (sub: L Evans, 78), M Burchall (sub: K Bean 88), O Lowe (sub: A Simons, 88) — R Rawlins. Substitutes not used: D Albouy. Booked: Ming, Bather.
New York Cosmos (4-3-3): J Maurer — C Mendes, A Taylor, Kalif All Hassan, D Szetela (sub: A Mancini, 64) — Juan Guerra, Ayoze, A Flores — Irvin Herrera, (J Mulligan, 46), Eugene Starikov, Ryan Richter (sub: M Binns, 64). Substitutes not used: B Holt, A Velela, E Calvillo, B Bardic. Booked: Taylor.
Referee: A Bailey.