An own goal and outstanding goal-keeping by Bentley Springer earned Weymouth Wales a 1-0 victory against the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme in the final of the KFC Knockout Champions Cup at the National Stadium last night.
The match which was postponed from last Sunday due to the weather pitted two of the island’s leading teams against each other. The BDFSP won this year’s Premier League, successfully defending the title they won last year. Wales placed fourth in the Premier League and was one of the few teams to defeat BDFSP in the tournament.
BDFSP led by Mario Harte, who helped them retain the Premier League title, were hoping to be double crown champions, while it was the intention of Wales to end the 2014 season with some kind of silverware. Harte, the leading scorer in the Premier League with 23 goals along with his fellow forwards Jamal Chandler and Shaquille Steward, as well as mid-fielders Romario Harewood and Raheim Sargeant, were expected to be thorns in the side of the Wales team.
Wales’ strike force, led by teenage Jadai Clarke along with Tristan Parris, Carl Joseph and Kemar Headley, were anticipated to be the ones to provide the firing power for the Carrington Village, St Michael-based team. From the time referee Gillian Martindale blew her whistle to start the game, Wales launched an attack on the BDFSP’s defence. They bombarded the soldiers with several shots.
At that early stage of the game, BDFSP goal-keeper Dario Weir had the appearance of a fortress under attack. In the sixth minute, several Wales strikers converged at the BDFSP penalty area. Jadai Clarke took a right-footed shot at the goal and Zico Phillips attempted to clear the ball but with several Weymouth Wales players bearing down on him he deflected the ball with his right foot past Weir and into the nets. Immediately after the goal was scored BDFSP when on the hunt searching for the equaliser.
The game was into its tenth minute when Shaquille Steward almost up-rooted the goal post with a powerful right-footed shot. Wales held on to the slim lead at half-time. After half time, the BDFSP tried hard to equalise but on each occasion their strikes were thwarted by Springer who was having the game of his life. Several times he dived and plucked the ball off the boots of BDFSP players preventing them from shooting at the bars. On other occasions, he leapt into the air and caught the ball as it zoomed towards the nets.
As the minutes dwindled away, the soldiers tried hard to score the equaliser but to no avail. Harte tried his best but it was not his night. In the dying moments of the game, he tried to curl the ball into the net with a free kick only to see it punched away by Springer. He also tried to bend several corners given by referee Martindale behind the Wales defensive wall but to no avail. His efforts were noted by the Wales’ fans in the VIP stand and one of them loudly renamed him “Lonely Harte”.
Play got a bit rough toward the end of the game but by then it was clear that the boys from Carrington Village were going to be the knockout kings for 2014. After referee Martindale blew her whistle to indicate that the game was over, the Wales fans gave a loud ironic cheer when the DJ played Boots by Gabby. For his sterling performance, Springer was named Player Of The Match and Clarke received a prize for best forward in the game. Wales were presented with the KFC Cup and a cheque for $20,000 for their night’s work.