Fire House and TS Strikers entered the final match of last night’s triple-header at Kensington Oval knowing they had both qualified for the quarter-finals of the Lime Pelican Football Challenge.
But Fire House also wanted to send a message to the other seven qualifiers. And they did just that with 4-1 thrashing of a completely outplayed T S Strikers.
A last-gasp 92nd minute penalty conceded by Fire House and scored by Jabarry Chandler in the dying moments of the game might have given Strikers some consolation, but by that time they had been flogged for the previous 91-minutes of the game.
Veteran mid-field general Norman Forde got the juggernaut rolling in the 8th minute of the game with a 20-yard blast into the back of the net. Forde as usual was all industry in the mid-field distributing the ball well and generally controlling the tempo of the game. However, he is not in the spring of his days and had to be substituted in the second-half when visibly hobbling from what appeared to be a hamstring injury. But by then the damage to Strikers had been done.
Fire House went into the break 2-0 up following a goal from Jason Blackman 10 minutes after the team had opened their account. The pattern of play after the resumption followed what had transpired in the first, with Fire House attacking and Strikers defending and looking to counter. But Strikers’ defence was as porous as some election promises and it came as no surprise when they conceded a third goal.
Former national player Ricky Barnes ran up the right side in the 71st minute and delivered a pinpoint cross that Darnell Murray met with unprotected space aplenty in the box to simply slot into the goal.
Both teams had opportunities to score after Murray’s strike but fluffed those chances. Then in 90th minute another move with Barnes at the forefront again resulted in a pass into Strikers’ danger area and Shaquille Stuart got a taste of the feast.
Strikers were fortunate to get their consolation as Fire House’s defence momentarily went to sleep as though they had heard some premature whistle. A run into their box was met by a rough challenge and a clear infringement, and provided Chandler’s chance to salvage a scrap of pride for his team.
Fire House finished on the top of Zone B with 10 points, one of three teams to have 10, and will now meet Red Tridents on November 18 in their quarter-final match-up. Strikers finished fourth in the same zone with 7 points and will take on Strike Force on November 11.
Earlier in the night of many goals Combined All Stars confirmed their spot in the quarter-finals with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the already eliminated Galaxy. Galaxy have had a disappointing campaign and perhaps played their best football last night but still came up short. Once again, their defence let them down in a situation where they were twice in the lead
Brian Husbands gave Galaxy a bright start in the 8th minute with the opening goal but this was soon cancelled out by a 22nd minute effort from the hard-working Kirk Best. The game remained dead-locked going into the half.
Almost immediately on the resumption Galaxy retook the lead with a 50th minute goal from Shamar Edwards. But before their fans could fully savour the effort, Jeremy Bradshaw evened up the score for All Stars at two apiece.
If the earlier season could be used as a gauge patrons could be forgiven for simply waiting to see which of the Combined All Stars’ players would heap further grief on Galaxy. And they duly got their answer when in the 64th minute Zico Marshall slotted home for the winner. The loss meant Galaxy ended their campaign with one point from five games. Combined All Stars finished third with 10 points and now battle against Akademiks in their quarter-final on November 11.
The second match of the night between Red Snappers and 360 Connection was a goal feast that produced seven goals. For Snappers there were many permutations going into the game, inclusive of goal difference and points that had to be considered for them to advance. But the most important consideration was that Red Snappers had to win to stand any chance. Instead, their goalkeeper took up the ball five times from inside his goal as 360 Connection won 5-2.
Red Snappers started poorly and did not play like a team pressing for a victory. They allowed too much space and comfort on the ball for Connection’s mid-field and were punished in the 29th minute when Kyle Gibson slotted home. Then in the 41st minute a delightful cross from the right side was met by a header from Anthony Cumberbatch and at the half Connection had a comfortable 2-0 cushion. Kenroy Skinner pulled a goal back in the 64th minute when he beat goalkeeper Kerry Holder but the two-goal advantage was restored by Gibson in the 70th minute.
Two goals from Dwayne Stanford in the 80th and 83rd minutes made it 5-1 and time for Red Snappers to start preparations for 2013. They did get a penalty four minutes from regulation time which Jeffrey Williams converted. 360 Connection finished second in the zone on 10 points and now meet Top Bay Settlers on November 18. (WG)