The Paradise Under-23 team captured their third consecutive Emancipation Cup trophy and the fourth overall in a thrilling 7-6 penalty shoot-out win over Fitts Village Soccer Club last night at Dover, Christ Church Playing Field.
The St James-based Fitts Village side came in as the underdogs but took the attack to the home lads Paradise in what could be described as a nerve-tingling showdown, after the scores were locked 2-2 after the 90-minute duration of regular time.
The match was then forced into the dreaded penalty shoot-out scenario that turned out to be a nail-biting sudden death situation and at 6-6 Shakado Scott, a national Under-17 player, booted home the winning penalty for his team.
It has been a good year for the Dover-based Paradise club which recently lifted the Barbados Football Association Premier League Reserve Championship trophy and also captured the Stag Beer Champions Cup Knockout trophy and a purse worth BDS$20, 000.
It’s been a year of triumph for Paradise and team manager Mark Cox said he was pleased with the performance of his Under-23 side, which showed fighting spirit during the final against a resilient Fitts Village unit.
Despite not being at full strength, as Paradise were without senior national attacking midfielder Ackeel Applewaithe, along with Elijah Downey currently based in Denmark and Najee Holder in the United States, Cox explained that they never worried.
In fact, Cox believed that the absence of those players was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed the other youngsters including striker Demar Linton who scored both goals for Paradise in the final and ended with most goals of 11, along with Paul Doughty named most outstanding goalkeeper and best defender Jermaine Evelyn- Johnson, an ideal chance to step up.
Paradise came in as the favourites but were quickly put on the backburner as early as the ninth minute when Dineil Haynes positioned inside the 18-yard box leapt and made connection with a 25-yard aerial ball, which he headed home forcefully. Paradise custodian Doughty didn’t stand a chance and his defence was left unmoved as Fitts Village celebrated that beautiful opening goal.
Paradise then responded with the equalizer in the 16th minute when Demar Linton shifted Fitts Village goalkeeper Kyle Smith who was exceptional with several fantastic saves throughout the game, but simply could not do anything about those delightful dribbling touches of Linton, as he made his way past Smith and then the defender, before finishing the job in front of an open bar.
According to commentator Fernando ‘Burger’ Best, the game was really entertaining, as the scores were tied 1-1 at halftime. Linton then placed Paradise in the driver’s seat in the 52nd minute of the second half with one gem of a free kick from 30-yards out. It was a delivery that curled into the left upper corner of the goal bar for a 2-1 lead for the Augustine Jacobs-coached Paradise team.
Fitts Village played a more attacking game, as they probed in the final third in search of another goal, which came through midfielder Natari Worrell who took on Paradise keeper Doughty and then slotted home the [2-2] equalizer in the 75th minute.
Fitts Village coach Curtis Brathwaite said he was proud of his players and looked forward to seeing them grow from strength to strength. “Our boys were not mentally prepared to play against the Paradise team seeing they have premier league players. But I told them just come, fight, work and that is what they did. So, I am extremely proud of them, I think they played fantastically and to carry a team that far only shows their character and how well they could adjust themselves to suit…All the guys played fantastically, I can’t really ask for anything more,” Brathwaite said.