Robin Hood 1 PHC Zebras 1
Idrees Sharrieff came off the bench to rescue a point for PHC Zebras in this entertaining Premier Division clash at Goose Gosling Field on Saturday night.
Hood led thanks to Shakir Smith’s first-half strike in a match played at high tempo, but were unable to contain the rampant Zebras, who finally hit back through Sharrieff’s superb header.
PHC were unlucky not to have come away with all of the points as midfielder Marco Warren struck a post.
These well-organised teams were looking for the important win to enhance their title hopes, but had to settle for a share of the spoils in an evenly fought contest that lived up to expectations.
Hood coach John Barry Nusum, who played the entire match at centre back, was frustrated not to come away with the victory.
“We needed three points to go level with them [PHC] and didn’t get them so I wasn’t satisfied with the result,” Nusum said. “We wanted to win and looked to win but didn’t get the win which now puts them, North Village and Dandy Town in a better position.”
“I thought we could have played better. Defensively our shape was good but we didn’t keep the ball long enough to change momentum as we would like to do as a team. We kept giving the ball away unnecessarily which only helps them because they are fit and were pressing high and running at us in waves.”
Scott Morton, the Zebras coach, praised his players for the way they fought back to salvage something from the match.
“I just love the resilience of my team to be able to come back like that and keep the belief,” he said.
“I had to get in them a little bit at half time because I didn’t think they showed enough belief in our game plan for the first half so I really appreciate their response.”
As for Sharrieff’s late equaliser, Morton said: “That’s what game changers are there for, to go on and change the game, and so for me he [Sharrieff] just did his job.”
PHC enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half but were unable to penetrate a well organised Hood defence anchored by the experienced Nusum and Jaylon Bather.
Hood eventually grasped the momentum during the latter stages of the half after soaking up pressure.
Smith, the former Zebras player, wasted the first real chance of the match when he dragged Chris Caisey’s corner kick wide from close range while Lejuan Simmons, the Hood captain, also threatened with an effort from another Caisey corner that was saved by Shaquille Trott, the Zebras goalkeeper.
Hood were in the ascendancy now and their relentless assault finally paid off via a defensive blunder. An attempted clearance by Cecoy Robinson, the PHC captain, found Smith instead and the Hood wing back steered his shot into the left bottom corner, leaving Trott no chance.
Hood squandered a glorious opportunity to extend their lead moments later when the unmarked Bather headed Antwan Russell’s cross wide from close range.
Zebras started the second half off on a promising note with winger Keishon Bean bringing off a fine save from Jason Simons, the Hood goalkeeper, and Warren going even closer by striking the left upright after the home side failed to clear their lines.
PHC finally got a foothold in the match when Sharrieff scored with a brilliant glancing header from Bean’s inswinging corner that went in off the underside of the bar.
The visitors nearly broke through again. Warren fed Robinson inside the box but Smith did well to block the striker’s effort.
It proved to be the Hood wing back’s last act as he injured his left ankle in the process and had to be replaced.
Hood defended most of the second half but did go close when Simmons’s effort from outside of the area rolled just wide of the far post against the run of play.
Robin Hood (4-5-1): J Simons — S Smith (sub: E Outerbridge, 83) J Bather, J Barry-Nusum, J Pereira — C Ryan, L Symonds (sub: Z Burgess, 75), C Caisey, M Burchall, L Simmons — A Russell. Substitutes not used: P Fronzioni. Booked: Russell, Simmons, Outerbridge.
PHC Zebras (4-3-3): S Trott — D Davis (sub: C Castle, 76), R DeShields, N Griffith, D Usher — M Waldron, T Ming, M Warren — J Iris (sub: I Sharrieff, 63), K Bean, C Robinson. Substitutes not used: M Lambe, D Lightbourne, K Hypolite. Booked: Griffith.
Referee: G Swainson.