The script remained unchanged, as Weymouth Wales retained their Barbados Football Association Premier League title for a second consecutive year with a 2-1 thrilling win over Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) last night at the Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf.
When these two teams face each other, blinking is never an option. Amid the excitement, three goals were scored in the opening half of what could be described as a physically intense championship playoff that almost nerve-rackingly went into overtime.
With seconds to go in the 90+4 minute of extra time, BDFSP were down 2-1, and with a bit of luck won themselves a corner kick which was taken by national midfielder Raheim Sargeant. As the ball made its way into the box, Wales tried their best to keep the ball out while BDFSP as expected, scrambled to keep it in and that resulted in a scuffle between players from opposing teams. Center referee Gillian Martindale quickly intervened and was able to calm things down but no cards were issued.
David Ward, the successful coach of Weymouth Wales, told Barbados TODAY afterwards: “This final was a tough fight. But we are always up for that fight and I always tell these men from the sweat of a man’s brow, so shall he eat. We are dedicated, we are determined and we acquired the expected results.”
The last time these two teams met, Wales won 1-0 and with that, they had a slight psychological advantage. So much so that they struck an early 1-0 lead over former three-time kings BDFSP with a penalty in the 22nd minute which was scored by the highly talented attacking midfielder Romario Harewood.
That penalty rewarded to Wales was a questionable one since Hadan Holligan with the captain’s armband appeared to be in an offside position but was never signalled by assistant referee Clifton Garnes. Holligan outpaced one defender up the Kent Upton end and made progress into the 18-yard box where BDFSP and Barbados’ number one goalkeeper Kishmar Primus made what look [at least to the naked eyes of referee Gillian Martindale] like an overly strong challenge deserving of a 12-yard penalty kick.
But some spectators disagreed with that call made by the experienced Martindale. And of course, none other than Romario Harewood, the best-attacking midfielder in Barbados was tasked with taking the shot which he buried to the bottom left of BDFSP’s goalkeeper Primus.
Down by a goal, BDFSP began to attack more hungrily for ball possession and it paid off in the end as they managed to equalize in the 31st minute thanks to national captain and attacking midfielder Rashad Jules with a low shot out of nowhere from 25-yards out. So solid was Jules’ execution that it evaded all of Wales’ defence and ripped past goalkeeper Omari Eastmond.
From there on both teams began to deploy defensive measures but BDFSP’s back four led by national defender and captain Shane Codrington, along with Rashawn Kellman, Shakeel Browne and Rashad Smith who was red-carded in the in the 79th minute for a reckless tackle on Jeffery Williams, ended up being the ones to let their guards down.
And Wales, the reigning double crown champions, seized the opportunity when former national player and veteran midfielder Jeffery Williams took possession, manoeuvred up the right with a pass to dangerman Harewood with a measured shot into the six-yard box from the right. The ball made connection with the forehead of Headley for what turned out to be the winning goal.
This year the respective zones were split into two, comprising six teams each and Wales finished undefeated at the top of zone one on 44 points. Wales played a total of 16 matches, won 14 and drew two with a goal difference of 44, 50 goals for and six against. BDFSP, on the other hand, topped zone two with 35 points having played 16 games, won 11, drew two and lost three with a goal difference of 29, having had 39 goals for and ten against.
The second place teams in the respective zones played for the third position during yesterday’s play-off. And Paradise with a score of 32 points in zone one having registered ten wins from 16 matches, two draws and four losses, came up against University of the West Indies Blackbirds who had ended with 30 points in their zone two.
That exciting contest ended in a 3-2 result in favour of UWI thanks to attacking midfielder Jamario Worrell. Paradise led 1-0 at halftime with a goal by defender Zico Phillips in the 13th minute.
Worrell then responded with the equalizer in the 66th minute. Damien Small then gave UWI a 2-1 lead and just when Paradise were celebrating that delightful header by Chai Lloyd in the 90-+1 to tie the score 2-2, Worrell proved to be the hero a minute later in the 90+2 with the winner. UWI won nine of 16 matches in the league, drew three and lost four and had a goal difference of 26 with 40 for and 14 against.
Meanwhile, in the relegation play-off match, Clayton’s Kola Tonic Notre Dame won the best of two contest 5-0 and 10-1 respectively over Home Improvement Compton.