St James North came from a 2-0 deficit to equalize 2-2 against Christ Church East Central and went on to edge their opposition 5-4 on penalties to lift the Under-17 National Junior Football title for the very first time yesterday at Briar Hall, Christ Church.
Sponsored by the Ministry of Sports in conjunction with the Youth Development Community Programme, Christ Church’s attacking forward Zavier Parris and Dimitri Springer netted goals in the 16th and 35th minutes, but St James’ playmakers Romario ‘Mar Mar’ Drakes and Tyrell King responded in the 37th and 56th periods to level the contest 2-2.
With both sides being unable to strike the win during the remaining minutes of regular time, ten minutes of extra time was granted where opportunities were created by both teams but no goals materialized.
The showdown resulted in a penalty shoot out that decided the eventual champions but ended in controversial fashion when the score was 3-2 to St James, as both teams had only taken four penalty kicks with one each remaining when referee Troy Thorpe blew off the match and caused St James to erupt in celebration.
Christ Church spectators began to protest and the penalty shoot out resumed with Shawonne Jones stepping up for Christ Church and nailing the ball past St James’ goalkeeper Sharad McCallister to tie the score 3-3 and force sudden death.
Both teams had two kicks each following that and St James had the advantage at 2-1, as the final result ended 5-4 in favour of St James thanks to goals from Tyrell King, Renaldo Bowen, Joshua Browne, Lionor Bradshaw and Romario Drakes. Meanwhile for Christ Church Justin Rollins, Treasure Griffith, Shawonne Jones and Daimar Clarke each scored.
Speaking after the match, victorious St James North coach Llewellyn Broomes said last night’s accomplishment was a sign of greater things to come from them.
“We changing the era of football from here onwards. This is the first time a north team ever win a final. So this is a blessing for us. We came here for our community, family and friends and for that I thank all of my players,” Broomes said.
Where the final was concerned he admitted that his team were placed under pressure from the get go but he encouraged his squad to go and show those in attendance what they were made of in the second half. According to Broomes, St James’ set plays have been one of the key ingredients for their success and being familiar with the Christ Church East Central squad was also helpful for them.
“Football plays for seventy, ninety minutes don’t care what, I have the talent enough to take the game to them. I always give them the first half which could go anywhere because you could always assess then [during that period],” Broomes said while adding, “I said to them in the second half, boys, it is time enough to show them what we are made of, run and show them everything.”
Christ Church East Central reaped the early sweets in possession as they went ahead 1-0 during the allotted 30 minutes opening half, thanks to Parris who showed lots of speed upfront. He made good use of a short pass, controlled, and placed it expertly past McCallister.
Seven minutes into the second half, the Christ Church side continued those strong attacking plays with lots of pace which earned them a 2-0 advantage in the 37th time compliments of Springer. A cross from the right found the lad, and he dribbled two defenders and slotted it home.
Those celebrations were short-lived when Alexandra schoolboy Drakes found the back of the nets and registered St James North’s first goal of the match. Christ Church East Central’s backline found it difficult to stop Drakes who was brought down inside the danger zone, resulting in a penalty taken by King for the equalizer and what was the game changer.