A first half double by former Trinidad and Tobago and Wrexham striker Hector Sam guided Saddle Hill Hotspur to a 3-2 win over Barrackpore United in National Super League Championship action yesterday.
The veteran Sam, a former UK-based professional, showed that his predatory instincts were still intact as he twice made Barrackpore custodian Josell Mc Sween fetch the ball out of the net in the seesaw contest at the Hasely Crawford Stadium’s training field. Sam’s first strike was a ruthless volley while his eventual game winner was a simple tap in.
Saddle Hill effectively killed the game with its three first half goals but could have faced a grimmer result if Barrackpore forward Keion Larode brought his shooting boots yesterday. The lively attacker helped to inspire an impressive second half comeback against UTT last week but was unable to replicate that form yesterday; he still caused a fair bit of hiccups though.
Larode, who is fondly called “Mankind” by his teammates, could have had as many as five goals against Saddle Hill but could not match Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski’s feat yesterday. Still, Mankind was not solely responsible for his own barren game yesterday as erratic Hotspur goalkeeper Dion Hernandez also played a part.
The unpredictable Hernandez, who charged off his line several times yesterday, twice stopped Larode when the striker looked destined to score. And, when Mankind did beat Hernandez’s grasp, “Mother Nature” stepped in as a stiff wind seemed to blow one effort wide of the goalmouth.
Saddle Hill coach Joel Auguste lamented that he wants his recently assembled team to play possession-styled football in the Super League. But their counter-attacking brand is not too bad as their first two goals came against the run of play.
A swift break in the 11th minute led to midfielder Raychard Allen lofting a precise ball to Sam over the centre-backs and the veteran gave McSween little chance as he blasted a right-footed volley into the back of the net.
Before Barrackpore could catch its breath, Saddle Hill grabbed another goal as winger Kerwin Bonnette pounced in the 22nd minute after the opposing defence failed to clear a corner kick.
The Barrackpore backline seemed to have lost all its cohesion and wits by the end of the first half and again failed to clear the ball following another goalmouth scramble in the 42nd minute. Sam was not in a forgiving mood and he gleefully buried the loose ball to give his team a 3-nil advantage.
Barrackpore shaded the deficit within 60 seconds as midfielder Quacy Cooper tapped home after being played in neatly by La Rode.
The second half was much more sedate as Saddle Hill’s central midfielders, Raychard Allen and skipper Keeron Benito, got a hold of the ball and tried to take the life out of the Barrackpore attack.
In contrast, Barrackpore went for a direct approach in an effort to exploit the erratic Hernandez and his high backline. But Saddle Hill centre-backs Kadeem Awai and Kevern De Bellott kept Mankind in check.
Last week, Barrackpore pulled off a sterling comeback as they came from two goals down to edge UTT, 3-2. But the clinical Sam settled the contest early yesterday.
“Since we got Hector he has been nothing but spectacular,” said Saddle Hill coach Joel Auguste. “He has almost been like a mentor to the younger ones and his attitude has always been positive. And he has bought into the philosophy of the team which is to respect each other.”
Sam’s second goal was crucial as Cooper notched a second goal for Barrackpore in a nervy final 15 minutes against a tiring Saddle Hill team. But it was too little, too late on this occasion.
Saddle Hill Hotspur (4-2-3-1): 33.Dion Hernandez (GK); 5.Darius Rawlins, 28.Kevern De Bellott, 6.Kadeem Awai, 18.Dwight Dowdy; 10.Keeron Benito (captain), 77.Sean Ramdoo; 15.Kerwin Bonnette (11.Kevon Durham 59), 23.Raychard Allen, 9.Cyrano Glen; 8.Hector Sam (13.Shaton Olivierre 69).
Unused Substitutes: 1.Akintunde Felician (GK), 3.Kwasi Charles, 2.Duran Felician, 7.Stefon Ragoo, 11.Kevon Durham, 16.Cole Clovis.
Coach: Stephen Cruickshank
Barrackpore United (4-1-4-1): 18.Josell Mc Sween (GK) (captain); 14.Anthony Kennedy, 16.Anton Charles, 5.Shakeel Jogie, 27.Ronnie Dass (3.Simeon Granger 46); 17.Rendell Brown; 13.Vish Dass (21.Jeremy Spann 82), 19.Quacy Cooper, 23.Trifon Browne, 10.Kiel Rebeiro (7.Atiba Harrison 59), 11.Keion Larode.
Unused Substitutes: 1.Kerry Steeling (GK), 4.Merkesi De Gannes, 6.Sherwin Steeling, 22.Richard Thomas.
Coach: Jeffrey Seecharan
Referee: Alister Reid
Man of the Match: Hector Sam (Saddle Hill)
CNG NSL Championship Division
(Tuesday September 22)
Edinburgh 500 0, QPCC 2 (Benedict Barrett 38, Jerome Charles 69)
Saddle Hill Hotspur 3 (Hector Sam 11, 42, Kerwin Bonnette 22), Barrackpore United 2 (Quacy Cooper 43, 78)
T&T Prisons FC 5 (Curtis Carrington 13, 81, Lance Haynes 29, Stephen Julien 37, Cleve Moore 71), Xtra Food Chaguanas FC 2 (Jamal Lucas 58, Kareem Beckles 90)
UTT 0, Cunupia FC 2 (Steven Stoute 51, 78)
Petit Valley United 4 (David Charles 43, Keston Bibby Cummings 68, Michael Ramsey 83, Isaiah Irish 85), Malabar FC 0