Defending champions Weymouth Wales and Paradise, two of the Barbados Football Association’s oldest club teams, will look to secure the Stag Knockout Championship Cup trophy and Barbados BDS$20,000 when the final kicks off on Sunday, July 16.
Many Barbados Soccer Academy (BSA) spectators came out in anticipation of seeing their team upset reigning premier league champions Weymouth Wales, when the first of two semifinal encounters kicked off Sunday evening at the Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf but instead the men from Carrington Village sponsored this year by Pharmaceutical Care ensured a place in the final with a 1-0 victory.
The winning goal came off the boot of former national midfielder Riverre Williams in the 19th minute. Williams was one of three leading marksmen for Wales against a young athletic and determined BSA team who could not match the fancy footwork and skills possessed by national attacking midfielder Hagan Holligan. He controlled a lovely pass running towards the Kent, Upton End, cut inside the 18-yard box where he eluded BSA central defender Romario McDowall with a delightful cross to his left for Williams to finish the job from close range.
Wales had the bulk of possession and their defence team comprising of Teriq Highland and Jamar Walters showed their class to stifle BSA and keep possession out of their final third. However, credit to manager Jack Bovell and BSA for creating history by playing their first ever knockout semifinal match against the colossus Wales attack.
In fact, the men in green have been so dominant for the 2017 football season that their last three competitive games accounted for a total of 19 goals.
The second clash of the night created lots of fireworks and even a few heated confrontations, which is to be expected when one has two of the top teams in local premiership facing off in the semis of the knockout. Paradise came from one goal down to defeat Clayton’s Kola Tonic Notre Dame 3-1.
Zeco Edmee, the 2017 golden boot winner along with teenage sensation Antone Greaves and Dwayne Mars, were a dynamic trio running up front for Notre Dame and brought about an early result in the fifth minute when Greaves zigzagged past two men, angled himself into position for a big swing that curled into the right post of the goal bars.
There was absolutely nothing Paradise goalkeeper Corey Bridgeman in place for Jason Boxill who is overseas [along with top striker Armando ‘Suga’ Lashley] could have done about that spectacular goal which had the crowd buzzing.
It should have been 2-0 to the men from Bayland when Greaves with his fancy footwork was brought down taking on two defenders yet again and referee Jamar Springer was in position to blow his whistle and point to the penalty spot. National forward Edmee stepped up to take the kick but was brilliantly denied by keeper Bridgeman. Following that two more attempts were made and yet again Bridgeman who also keeps goal for Christ Church East Central in the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Council Football Classic, did well to ensure nothing got past him.
Notre Dame, coached by Renaldo “Pee Wee” Gilkes, maintained their 1-0 lead until Paradise equalized in the 49th minute through striker Shai Lloyd. A free kick taken from 30 yards out by national player Ackeel Applewhaite with a well-flighted ball inside the six-yard box found Lloyd for the finish.
Notre Dame tried to preserve their 1-0 advantage earlier in the opening half by defending at all cost against the attack of Lloyd and company. Paradise after securing the equalizer did the same with a solid back line led by former Barbados captain and central defender Barry Skeete, Najee Holder, Zico Phillips and Tyrell Bancroft.
With both teams playing defensively, the game went into overtime and during the first 15-minute half, Demar Linton ended the tiebreaker when a leading ball evaded Notre Dame defender Shane Mottley and Applewhaite chased it down at top speed, took control with a wonderful pass to Linton who made connection for the lead in the 98th minute.
Applewhaite was really having a good game last night and added his name on to the scoresheet in the 103rd minute after making a few lovely assists earlier. Notre Dame’s lackadaisical defence paid for not marking the man who caused them trouble, as he was left unmarked and had enough time to take the ball off his right foot, placed it on to his left and whipped it into the back of the nets as the men from Dover silenced their opposition.
The final will be played this Sunday, July 16 at the Wildey, St Michael Astro Turf.