St George South wrote their names in the history books when they won the first ever National Sports Council/Youth Development Programme Under-17 Football Championship yesterday – Errol Barrow Day.
It was a country versus country affair at the Briar Hall, Christ Church playing field when the victorious St George South team defeated St Lucy 5-4 on penalties compliments the precision of Shaquan Clarke, Bradley Carrington, Tyrique Holder, Sheran Hoyte and Romario Drakes. That performance allowed St George South to end the tournament with an impressive unbeaten nine-game run.
The first half of the game was uneventful even though both teams came pretty close to taking the lead especially St Lucy who had quite a few chances but never capitalized. Star player Javere Cumberbatch took his first attempt at goal inside the box off a corner and just missed the top post of the goal bars.
Following that Cumberbatch found the ball once more and gave himself enough room from 30 yards out and took a fantastic shot at goal but that also went past the finger tips of St George South’s goalkeeper Kyle Brathwaite. St George South also had their moments and the most exciting was Romario Drakes who found an opening after he broke away with the ball, took on two St Lucy defenders along with the goalkeeper Nathan Small and after doing the skillful build-up then somehow managed to shoot wide of the mark.
When the second half commenced St Lucy went ahead in the 35th minute thanks to Javan Henry who ran on to a long ball inside the box and headed it inside the net past St George South’s custodian Brathwaite. St George South went in search of the equalizer and came pretty close at one point when they won a corner taken by Ramon Brooks from the right but no one inside the box connected on the ball as it drifted into the area.
A couple minutes later in the 51st minute St George South made things happen when a precise pass by Jacobi Nicholls in the middle found the boot of Shaquan Clarke who ran it up the field and the right-winger made it look so easy when he gracefully controlled the ball and buried it past two defenders and the St Lucy goalkeeper Nathan Small.
There was roughly nine minutes left to play and fans from both sides of the fence were hoping that their respective team would score the decider but that was not the case which forced the game into extra time.
The 20 minutes of extra time made no difference as neither team scored. St George South had problems when their goalkeeper Brathwaite got struck in the eyes and had to leave the field to receive medical attention from the ambulance service vehicle present. This brought his namesake Abayomi Brathwaite on as a substitute.
St Lucy in the meantime kept themselves warm but they too had trouble in their camp when Najee Greaves received his second yellow card of the game that automatically resulted in a red and St Lucy being reduced to ten men. But their defence kept focused and allowed no room for error.
The game went into a penalty shoot-out and that’s where eager fans around the ground could not contain their excitement. After four wonderful penalty kicks by Tyrique Acher, Ronnie Farley, Javere Cumberbatch and Javan Henry, St Lucy fans were left a bit disappointed when Deshawn Griffith failed to put power behind the ball and allowed St George South substitute goalkeeper to put his body behind the ball for a good save that resulted in them lifting the first ever under-17 trophy.
Coach of St George South, Corey Beenie Man Barrow, said he had no doubt that his guys would have come out on top even though they were down 1-0 at one point. Barrow, the founder of Ellerton FC first division team, explained that many of his players were in division one and that also paid off for them in this competition.
“One of the advantagse we have is our guys play senior football like division one especially my attacking trio Romario Drakes, Shaquan Clarke and Jacobi Nicholls. They did not follow the game plan at all [at the beginning] and had me and the other coach real disturbed. At the beginning I told them attack wins games but defence wins championships and I had real confidence in my guys especially my keeper.
“I know we were going to win the game because we have a better attack, defence and keeper. This is a developmental programme we are on to carry them on to the next level and we have a twelve-year-old and [many] fourteen-year-olds,” said Barrow, who was assisted by fellow coach Ian Ifill.