Defending champions Weymouth Wales are out of the 2018 Stag Champions Cup thanks to Mario ‘Bagga’ Williams’ exquisite winner that led giant-killers Paradise to a hard-fought 1-0 semifinal victory.
Played Saturday night at the Barbados Football Association’s Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf, Williams’ goal in the 105th minute during extra time was one of the sweetest revenge pills served up. That goal gave Paradise the chance to redeem themselves having reached last year’s final only to lose 1-0 to Wales who suffered their first defeat of the 2018 season at the most inopportune time.
Fed with a lovely eight-yard assist by fellow national midfielder Ackeel Applewaithe, Williams based on the right of the field elegantly took possession, then shifted defender Duwayne Peters whom he left for dead before hammering a right foot finish just outside the 18-yard box to the left of Wales custodian Omari Eastmond diving in vain to his right.
A grand total of BDS$20, 000 is at stake for the eventual winners of the Champions Cup to be decided on August 1 between the Kenville Layne-coached Paradise team and the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme [BDFSP] who won a 2-1 thriller over Brittons Hill in the opening semifinal match.
While the Carrington Village-based Weymouth Wales had their eyes set on completing the double having just lifted the BFA’s Premier League trophy for a second consecutive year last week, Paradise and BDFSP will both be rejoicing, as the former [Paradise] look to go all the way this time and take the trophy back to their home base in Dover. The soldiers will seek to win their third knockout trophy within the past five years having done so in 2014 and 2015 when they were double crown kings.
If there was a man-of-the-match reward, Barbados’ and Paradise’s number one goalkeeper Jason Boxill was most deserving considering he came up with three fantastic saves and two came in the opening half. Boxill with a right-side diving save did superbly to deny a solid right foot delivery from Wales midfielder Rico Graham. Graham was later replaced by Stephan Cumberbatch in the 37th minute after appearing to be in some discomfort. The second notable save was a one-on-one situation with Wales forward Kemar Headley who went for an attacking shot inside the 18-yard box and there was Boxill with a timely right-footed clearance.
It was a physical contest that resulted in an altercation in the 89th minute between Wales substitute Cumberbatch and Paradise center-forward Armando ‘Suga’ Lashley who were both issued yellow cards by center referee Gillian Martindale a minute before the 90 minute regulation time expired. Martindale and her two assistants Kevin Clarke and Angelo Doyle had no choice but to intervene.
Wales with Headley and attacking midfielders Hadan ‘Fatty’ Holligan, Romario Harewood and captain Jabar Greene were all busy in the final third, as they maintained the majority of the ball possession. But they just couldn’t get past Paradise’s four fortresses led by captain Barry Skeete and including Zico Phillips, Andre Bourne and Williams who started out playing left-back but then switched to a more forward position and forced midfielder Mark Bushell to drop back in defence.
Known for their swift attacking movement on the ball, Paradise took Wales out of their comfort zone with several aerial balls that often times deceived defenders Ramar Millar, Teriq Highland, Jamar Walters and Duwayne Peters.
Paradise strikers Armando Lashley, Dario Harewood and Chai Lloyd, with assistance from midfielders Akeem Browne, Ackeel Applewhaite and Mario Williams, asserted themselves with those long passes that left David Ward’s defence clueless at times.
The first semifinal clash went into overtime after Kyle Gibson scored in the 47th minute for BDFSP and Brittons Hill equalized in the 72nd-minute compliments veteran defender Omar Archer for the 1-1 result at the end of regular time.
National midfielder and one of BDFSP’s leading front men Raheim Sargeant backed his shirt in celebration and received a yellow card from referee Norman Greaves in the 113th minute in extra time. In the end, it was all worth it as Sargeant produced the winning goal that earned his team a place in the knockout final.