Last night bore no hint of Milton’s script. Paradise won!
Mario ‘Bagga’ Williams’ equalizer and Ackeel Applewhaite’s winner were the ideal formulae the Paradise Soccer Club needed to end their 13-year drought and lift the 2018 Stag Beer Champions Cup with a 2-1 result against Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP).
It was a pulsating end to this year’s football season at the Barbados Football Association’s Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf. A grand total of BDS$20, 000 and the championship trophy were there for the taking between two teams who last played each other in a knockout final back in 2005 when Paradise won 3-1.
Paradise made it to the final last year where they lost 1-0 to former champions Weymouth Wales in the dying stages of the game. But as the saying goes, weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. It was victorious coach Kenville Layne and his players dressed in yellow who were the ones sprinting onto the field in jubilation, and deservingly so as they claimed the championship title for the seventh time overall.
Coach Layne told Barbados TODAY he dedicated his team’s success to all of Paradise’s supporters and added that hard work and all-round team support made the difference for them this year after knocking at the door for so long. He also mentioned their vibrant youth programme and said they were looking to capture the Under-23 title when the Emancipation Cup comes off this Sunday, August 5th at the Dover, Christ Church playing field.
“For the fans, players, spectators, we owe a lot because we haven’t won anything in a little while. We have gotten to the final a couple of times but just couldn’t put the icing on the cake and today is a day that we did that, and I am proud of the guys. They really worked hard and not only during games but also at training, so I really appreciate the effort,” Layne said.
Yesterday Paradise got off to an unwelcomed start when they were down 0-1 in the 48th minute in the second half through an own goal by central defender Andre Bourne.
And of course, BDFSP did not mind as they rejoiced at gaining a fortuitous 1-0 advantage. But those celebrations were shortlived as Paradise responded moments later through Most Valuable Player and the man adjudged best midfielder Mario Williams wearing the number six on his back.
Williams grabbed hold of possession at least 30 yards out, danced his way around BDFSP defensive third led by their captain Shane Codrington who was named best defender, before slotting home a beauty of an equalizer. That goal was identical to the lone goal Williams scored two weeks ago in the semifinal to dethrone Weymouth Wales who won the third-place match 2-1 against Brittons Hill.
Then the moment of glory came when substitute Dario Harewood came on to replace veteran defender Barry Skeete in the 59th minute. He fed national attacking midfielder Ackeel Applewhaite a 15-yard pass in the 80th minute, the talented winger dribbled two defenders on the left field, then shifted Barbados’ number one goalkeeper Kishmar Primus before placing his left foot shot into the back of the nets.
It was back to the drawing board for BDFSP who earlier took a 1-0 lead after earning themselves a left-side corner kick from the Sargeant Village end which was taken by national attacking midfielder Raheim Sargeant. Sargeant’s was a rather low delivery, and as the ball trickled into the six-yard box, it deflected off Paradise defender Andre Bourne before easing past custodian Jason Boxill for the opening goal of the match. Boxill played well throughout the knockout season and was later named best goalkeeper.
Sargeant and his national captain Rashad Jules who departed Barbados this morning for the return leg of the best of two international friendly matches against Belize, showed their seniority in the final third. But those two along with fellow national players Omani Leacock and Akeem Hill with support from Kyle Gibson, and T-Shane Lorde were not as forthright with their offensive objective to get past Paradise’s virtually impenetrable back four led by veteran Barry Skeete, Zico Phillips, Mark Bushell and Bourne.
Credit to Paradise for being tactically sound with an aerial style of play that had BDFSP defenders Codrington, Rashad Smith, Shakeel Browne and Rashawn Kellman jumping high quite a lot to defend. The soldiers coached by Asquith Howell certainly had their hands full keeping Paradise captain Armando ‘Suga’ Lashley quiet as he missed two clear opportunities earlier on in the opening half.
In the third-place game Weymouth Wales edged Brittons Hill 2-1 compliments a goal each from Hadan Holligan and Kemar Headley in the 30th and 54th minutes respectively while Donte Greenidge scored the lone goal for his team in the 49th minute. Holligan’s six goals were the most by anyone in the tournament.