Devonshire Cougars 3 Boulevard 1
Elisha Darrell is turning out to be a real discovery for Devonshire Cougars.
The 20-year-old striker has put his athletics career as a high jumper on hold to try his luck at football instead.
It is a decision that paid huge dividends at Devonshire Recreation Club yesterday as he netted a maiden hat-trick to guide his side into the next round of the Friendship Trophy on his shoulders.
“Since I was young, I’ve wanted to play football, but I did track,” Darrell, who has represented Bermuda in high jump at multiple Carifta Games, said.
“I enjoyed track, but now I’m playing football and enjoying it.”
The rookie forward converted twice before the interval and completed his superb treble near the hour mark.
“I felt I did well,” added Darrell, who has scored four goals in his last two outings.
“I probably could have executed better on other parts of the game, but all in all, getting the win and the hat-trick is all that matters.”
Mark Smith, the Cougars assistant coach, is delighted to have the striker’s services at his disposal.
“Elisha is a joy to have and is an unknown quantity,” the former Cougars midfielder said. “He is only 20 and this is his first season playing football.
“He has a lot of potential and hunger. He could have had five today.”
Cougars were forced to chase the game after Jason Symonds’s clinical strike gave Boulevard an early lead.
Zari Burchall’s through ball put Symonds in the clear and the midfielder drilled a low shot into the far bottom corner that gave Cougars’ goalkeeper Kioshi Trott no chance.
Boulevard’s joy, however, was short-lived as Cougars quickly regrouped and hit back through Darrell’s glancing header. The striker rose at the near post to head Juma Mouchette’s cross past Boulevard goalkeeper Azir Harvey to bring the teams level.
By now the momentum had shifted Cougars’ way and they continued to pile on the pressure with wingback Mouchette and midfielders Zari Simmons, Saki Pearman and Chris Caisey wreaking havoc with their movement off the ball and precision passing.
Therefore, it came as little surprise when the home side surged ahead with Darrell again getting the final touch to a build up he started.
He exchanged passes with Mouchette just inside of the box before firing into the far bottom corner.
Burchall then squandered a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser for Boulevard, the striker dragging a shot wide with only Trott to beat on a rare counter-attack.
At the opposite end, Caisey forced Harvey to make a save at his near post as Cougars threatened to pull further away right on the half-time whistle.
Whatever words Cougars coach Vance Brown uttered to his players during the break had the immediate effect as they came charging out of the blocks when play resumed.
Caisey fired just wide of the post after a good build up down the right side and was then left clutching his head after his free kick struck the woodwork.
Harvey also did well to save Erin Butterfield-Tankard’s close-range effort as the home side moved in for the kill.
Cougars relentless pressure eventually told with Darrell poking home Zari Simmons’s pass in the box to all but end the game as a contest. Boulevard eventually caught their second breeze and created a golden opportunity to pull one back to make things interesting.
However, Symonds was unable to hit the target after Enyche Zuill’s pass left him with only Trott to beat.
“We are missing our chances, that’s the problem,” Troy Smith, the Boulevard coach, lamented.
“No one is outplaying us. It’s just chances that we are missing, simple things.”
Devonshire Cougars: Darrell 11, 21, 59
Devonshire Cougars (4-1-4-1): K Trott — J Mouchette, Zeko White, A Samuels,Z White — Z Simmons, J Fox (sub: C Maybury, 73min), S Pearman, E Butterfield-Tankard (sub: J Furbert-Wade, 82), C Caisey — E Darrell (sub: A Douglas, 66). Booked: Simmons, Zekiro White. Substitutes not used: R Trott, K Mills-Wilson, R Simons.
Boulevard (4-4-2): A Harvey — Z Stovell, T Wilson, T Stovell (sub: A Famous, 64), T Butterfield — N Smith, D Taylor, T Walker, J Symonds — Z Burchall, E Zuill.
Referee: D Jackson.