Leg up: Devonshire Cougars' Lovintz Tota battles with North Village’s Keishen Bean for the ball earlier in the season. Village are six points behind Cougars. *Photo by Ras Mykkal
Leg up: Devonshire Cougars' Lovintz Tota battles with North Village’s Keishen Bean for the ball earlier in the season. Village are six points behind Cougars. *Photo by Ras Mykkal

FRIDAY, JAN. 11: Devonshire Cougars manager Dennis Brown says defence is where the Digicel Premier Division will be won or lost over the remaining eight games.

The Cougars sit four points clear of nearest rivals PHC at the top of the table as they chase their fourth top-flight title.

Last weekend’s 2-1 win over second-placed Zebras — courtesy of a winner from Che Brangman — saw them strike a potential critical psychological blow in the title race.

Tonight’s derby game against struggling Wolves and their next fixture against bottom club Robin Hood represents, on paper at least, the perfect chance to stretch their lead at the summit.

But with defending champions Dandy Town only five points back in third, Brown knows there is plenty of work to do.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “We cannot get ahead of ourselves and think the race is over because it is not. There is a long way to go and we will not get complacent.

“We must be wary of all teams because every game will bring different challenges to us and we must be prepared mentally and physically and not take anything for granted.

“The next two games will be difficult matches because Wolves is a derby match and remember in the first match they had us 2-0 in the first half which we ended up drawing 3-3 so we are not taking this game lightly at all.

“Robin Hood can still survive so they will be playing every game as if it is their last match and they also have Antwan Russell up front so that will be a challenge as well.”

Anyone questioning whether Cougars have the mettle to get over the finish line need only look at the recent Friendship Trophy final, which saw the team hold their nerve to defeat Dandy Town in a penalty shootout.

And Brown, who took over the club after leaving Somerset Trojans in August, 2011, believes that victory is proof they are no flash in the pan.

He said: “I think for us to win the Friendship was a gigantic lift because all we were hearing was that we couldn’t beat the big teams in a final, and in recent years they don’t come much bigger than Dandy Town.

“There is lots of belief but we will take one game at a time and respect each opponent.”

The young players on the Big Cats books have impressed this season, with the likes of Che Brangman, keeper Kioshi Trott, Kenny Desilva, Philip Parsons and Demitri Daniels in particular standing out. And Brown believes the blend of youth and experience is vital if they are to end the season as champions.

He said: “Obviously our midfield is vital with Moses Steede, Jesse Seymour, Korvon Tucker, Chris Caisey and Drewonde Bascome having good seasons thus far, along with Domico Coddington and Che Brangman up top.

“Defensively is where the league will be won in the next four weeks and we will look to improve that part of our game even more than we have thus far.

“I am not surprised by how well the youngsters have done, I always knew when I took over last season that there was lots of talent at the club.

Key

“My philosophy has always been to incorporate young players in with the experienced players and it has worked fairly well.”

He added: “That was a huge victory for us on the weekend against PHC but there is no room for us to think that we are home and dry because there is still a long way to go.

“I think the key to our victory on Sunday was our ability to defend better than we were in the beginning of the season and last season.

“I am a firm believer that if we defend well in big games then that will give us a chance to win matches because offensively we are fairly good. Also we are a bit more resilient this season in relation to absorbing pressure.”