A textbook header by Neighbourhood Care Pharmaceutical Weymouth Wales’s central defender, Akeem Maloney, will not be forgotten anytime soon.
It will go down in local football history as the lone goal that led the defending champions to their second consecutive Stag Champions Cup Knockout trophy along with $20, 000 prize money and their first double crown honours in 33 years. Those were the team achievements when Weymouth Wales defeated Paradise 1-0 to bring immense joy to their supporters at the Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf Sunday night.
After 90 minutes of regular time and three minutes of added time with neither of the two teams being able to shake the nets and 30 minutes of extra time being granted, the knockout final appeared destined for a penalty shoot-out when Wales earned themselves a right-side corner kick that was taken by Kemar Headley. Headley came on as a substitute for fellow striker Arantees Lawrence in the 14th minute of sudden death, and that decision made by coach David Ward did not disappoint.
At just over five feet tall, Headley took two steps before connecting his right boot on to a perfectly flighted ball that curled about ten yards to Maloney, one of the tallest men on the field. He went up strong and purposefully in the 121st minute, got his forehead over the ball and buried the match-winning header into the right top post of the goal bars as Paradise goalkeeper, Corey Bridgeman and midfielder Akeem Browne (standing behind Bridgeman inside the bars) watched helplessly as the ball flew past them both.
It was that moment that Kenville Layne’s men were left flabbergasted as Wales who haven’t conceded a goal for the competition stormed onto the turf in jubilation.
Both teams had golden opportunities to score but excellent goalkeeping at opposite ends kept both teams alive during regular time, especially Wales’ custodian Omari Eastmond who had a phenomenal season and was adjudged the best goalkeeper for the knockout. A clean slate basically guaranteed that honour.
Out of the five awards shared out Sunday, Wales took away four as striker Riverre Williams took home two with the golden boot for most goals (six) and Most Valuable Player of the knockout, along with Kemar Bartlett for best defender. Meanwhile, Paradise midfielder Ackeel Applewhaite was dominant in the middle and therefore captured that trophy.
The last time Wales and Paradise met in a knockout final was 2003 when the latter emerged as champions 1-0. Fast forward 14 years later and Wales are the ones celebrating against the men from Dover and by the identical 1-0 result.
It has been a year filled with riches for the men from Carrington Village, as they lifted the Premier League title a couple weeks ago having won 13 matches worth BDS$500 each for a total of $6, 500 and returned yesterday to add the knockout trophy to their heavily laden cabinet and pocketed a total of BDS$26, 500 for the 2017 football season.
Having last played for 2016 Premier League champions University of the West Indies Blackbirds, Maloney wearing number 17 on his back, was recruited by Wales in February of this year and turned up as the hero Sunday night. He told Barbados TODAY he felt absolutely elated.
“At first the guys weren’t playing to the best of their ability but they started off playing well in the second half and then we began playing during extra time, so I am elated and very delighted. I realise that throughout the game that we were taking corners and no one was getting their head on it and I wasn’t going up for any of the corners but I asked the coach if to go up for that particular corner in the dying minutes and he said ‘yes’. I told myself I could score this goal, I went up and that is what I did,” Maloney said, as he reminisced on his moment of glory.
Paradise did not leave empty-handed as they received BDS$10, 000 while Barbados Soccer Academy with a 2-1 victory over Clayton’s Kola Tonic Notre Dame claimed $5, 000 for the third position and $3, 000 went to Notre Dame.