The Cup remains in the Capital.
That was the state of affairs last night as a brilliant last gasp effort started by Dwayne Mars, completed by substitute Enrico Cave, gave the City of Bridgetown a 1-0 victory over Christ Church West Central as regulation time winded down on the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils Football Classic at Kensington Oval.
Before a massive crowd that sat through a series of near-misses and botched opportunities for 90 minutes, a previously anonymous Dwayne Mars first got possession on the left corner of the field, lost the ball and then regained it from two leaden-footed defenders.
He sent a precise aerial cross into the area and it was met with a glancing header from Cave that flashed past the Christ Church West Central custodian Oliver Hinkson and into the back of the nets. The exultant eruption from the City fans was almost immediately followed by referee Gillian Martindale’s final whistle.
Earlier, the game had started out brightly with both teams playing flowing football especially on the flanks with Christ Church West Central’s Shane Cox catching the eye with his fluid movement, ball control and dribbling skills.
Christ Church West Central’s Dario Lewis, who fell to the ground more often than some countries’ stock exchange, had an early opportunity when he collected a through ball on the right flank from Cox, made a run on goal and found the City’s goalkeeper off his line and woefully out of position. But, instead of burying the opportunity, Lewis somehow managed to miss the target.
Christ Church West Central had a horrific time dealing with set pieces and the City appeared capable of scoring off a series of corners, and free kicks, just outside the “visiting” team’s area. One of those free kicks was met by a header by Renaldo Seale and was heading into the back of the nets before it was intercepted on the line by an alert Randy Burrowes with goalkeeper Hinkson well and truly beaten.
The game lost some of its momentum with Martindale having to stop the game for a number of infringements and to cool down the inter-play between the opposing captains Jeffrey Williams of the City and Mario Farrell that on a few occasions threatened to boil over.
But Martindale did an outstanding job on managing the proceedings.
Williams was all industry for the City unit. Visibly the fittest man on the field, Williams controlled the mid-field with great aplomb, dropped back on defence whenever it was required and was generally involved in basically every move his team made.
The City’s Christopher Shepherd was arguably the man of the match, though. He had an outstanding game, averting danger whenever Christ Church West Central threatened, tackled strongly and mostly cleanly, held up the ball when it was required in mid-field, and always looked comfortable in possession. He was a veritable fortress on the right flank.
After a first half that ebbed and flowed, the teams visibly slowed in the second on the expansive Kensington Oval field with more space opening up for the more adventurous. For all his skills, perhaps Cox fell down by not running at the City’s defence more frequently rather than satisfying himself with through passes which were often intercepted. Additionally, the talented Renaldo Marquez disappeared for lengthy stretches in the game when what was needed was for him to assert himself more.
Mars was guilty of the same thing in the first half when one had to look hard to see if he was on the field at all. But at least he turned that around in the second half and provided the key moment of the encounter.
Prior to the winning goal, a good build-up play from the City saw Seale crashing a header off the cross bar which served as the portent of what was to come in the dying stages of the game.
That the City managed to keep a clean sheet had a lot to do, not only with Christ Church West Central’s several miscalculations in the goal area, but mostly as a result of some top goal-keeping from Don Ifill and stout defending from the tough Mitchum President.
In the end the better team won and basked in the adulation of their fans, their second Cup in the two years of the competition and the $30,000 later presented to them by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Member of Parliament for the City, Patrick Todd, praised the team and said the victory was well-earned and well-deserved taking into consideration the hard work which all involved with the team at every level had put in. Todd said he expected the tournament to go from strength to strength as the years progressed.
In the preceding third-place play-off game, St. Michael South Central defeated St. Michael North 4-3 on penalty kicks. (WG)
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