By Anmar Goodridge-Boyce
A stunning first-half free-kick by captain Aaron Cumberbatch and a neat finish from Raheem Archer were all it took to crown the Alexandra School as kings of the Coca-Cola Barbados Secondary Schools’ Football League Under-16 Knockout competition.
Playing at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex yesterday evening, Alexandra came up against arch-rivals Frederick Smith and defeated them 2-0 in a thrilling end to end encounter.
Both teams booked their places into the final after beating their opponents in the semi-final round on Friday.
Frederick Smith who exited the competition at the quarterfinal stage last year at the hands of school titans Pine Hill St Leonard’s Boys, thrashed Parkinson by five goals to nil to book their spot while Alexandra defeated St George Secondary on penalty kicks.
Due to the nature of the important cup-tie, both teams started the game a bit cagey being reluctant to make any mistakes in the early exchanges of the match.
Alexandra and Frederick Smith both gave up possession in the middle of the park in an effort to find the game’s opening goal to calm the nerves.
Chances came and chances went but no one succeeding in finding the back of the net.
Frederick Smith were the first to find their rhythm playing the ball out to their pacey wingers on the flanks.
Midway through the first half is when the first real chance of the match came, a free-kick just outside of the box was played into the danger zone and luckily for the Alexandra custodian Michael Chandler he was able to collect the ball which was hit across the goal area.
The Alexandra front trio of Joshua Johnson, Raheem Archer and Dontae Scantlebury jelled together successfully but just couldn’t find the goal their team desperately wanted.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 36th minute when national under-15 player and pro-shottas star Aaron Cumberbatch was brought down in a teasing position on the left side after a daunting run in which he dribbled past three Frederick Smith defenders.
Cumberbatch then delivered the goods from 24 yards out when he curled his finesse shot up over the wall and past Frederick Smith’s keeper Lashawn Hinds who had no time to react, making the score 1-0 at the break.
After both teams were in the company of their managers for 15 minutes Frederick Smith came out looking for blood.
The boys from Trents went in search of an equalizer from the time the referee blew the whistle to resume play.
Alexandra’s keeper Chandler had to pull off a number of saves to ensure his side kept their one-goal advantage.
Skipper Cumberbatch was reduced to tears a couple minutes into the half as he picked up an injury and was forced to be substituted by coach Kirk Corbin.
Five minutes later and his tears would turn to joy when Joshua Johnson was brought down in the box leaving referee Tonia Deane with no choice but to point to the charity spot.
Johnson who never looked comfortable taking the penalty stepped up and was denied from 12 yards by Hinds much to the amusement of the Frederick Smith supporters.
The missed penalty was truly a turning point in the game and Frederick Smith bombarded the Alexandra goal with shots in an attempt to get back into the game.
Sachin Griffith arguably had the best chance to equalize when he beat the offside trap and was one on one with the keeper but put his shot well over the bar.
Against the run of play, Raheem Archer put the nail in the coffin for Frederick Smith when he latched on to a ball played over the top, kept his composure and finished to the keeper’s right finishing the game at 2-0.
Speaking after the match Alexandra Coach Kirk Corbin told Barbados TODAY the team’s victory was dedicated to a number of students who passed away within the last school year.
“I told the guys today [yesterday] that we would have to fight and they fought. When it comes to finals sometimes you have to throw everything out the window and fight. We knew that St James [Frederick Smith] were going to come and give us a battle so we just had to fight.
“We have been to three straight finals and we got two, we have been to the Under 14 final won that, Under-19 runners-up and now this one. Anyone that thought Alexandra wasn’t a superpower in football, this is the evidence here.”