by Marissa Lindsay
The opening matches in the Lime Pelican Football Challenge were nothing short of sheer excitement for the spectators who came out to Kensington Oval last night to witness the start of what is expected to be one of the biggest sporting events in Barbados.
Reverend Nigel Taylor offered a word of prayer and, despite a 40-minute delayed start, a crowd that included Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley, St Michael North East MP Mia Mottley and LIME’s Alex McDonald was not fazed.
In the feature game of the night between Akademiks and LG Strike Force, Akademiks defeated LGSF 2-0 in an entertaining game that had the crowd fully engaged. It was a slow start by both teams in the first half with most of the action confined to the mid-field with few clear-cut chances. The first-half whistle found the score at 0-0.
The second-half of the game picked up and, in the 60th minute, Aranties Lawrence placed the ball into the back of the nets for Akademiks and simultaneously brought rapturous applause from the fans. At this stage things got interesting as Akademiks’ number 19, Jermaine Ceasar, was sent off in the 76th minute after being cautioned twice by match referee Mathew Alleyne.
Akademiks were down to 10 players and that was just the advantage one thought the LGSF players were looking for. Still, they failed to capitalise despite repeated opportunities and their numerical advantage.
Akademiks held their own and played like a unit, scoring another goal through Mario Hart in the 88th minute to give them a 2-0 advantage. LGSF figuratively buried their heads in the ground after realising they were heading for defeat with just two minutes of game play to go.
In a Zone B match, TS Strikers clashed with Combined All Stars in what was a scrappy affair in the first-half. When referee Desmond Edward blew the whistle to signal the end of the first half the score was 0-0. When the second half resumed Tristan “Fishy” Parris had the honour of scoring the first goal of the tournament for his team to give Combined All Stars the 1-0 lead. Romando Lashley equalised to level the score at 1-1.
In a Zone A encounter, defending champions Tiger Malt Bajan Pride Ballers won 1-0 over Bajan Elite, thanks to Dwayne Mottley who scored with a brilliant header that gave the goal keeper no chance of saving.
Fans were fully entertained with music filling in between games and lots on offer to eat and drink. Four bikers also rode out onto the ground with ladies who handed out several footballs to lucky patrons.