Man-of-the-Match Jaydon McCollin produced the lone goal that led St. Michael North East (SMNE) to a memorable 1-0 victory over St. Michael East last night during the inaugural National Sports Council/Youth Development Constituency Under-19 Football Classic final.
Played at the Barbados Football Association AstroTurf in Wildey, McCollin’s goal in the 20th minute, combined with exceptional goalkeeping from his captain and Most Valuable Player Shaquan Phillips was enough for SMNE to earn the first place trophy.
Based in the constituency of Prime Minister Mia Mottley, SMNE head coach Andre Gill and his assistant Tito Grazettes said they knew their opponent was going to be hard to beat.
However, with one of the strongest squads in this tournament, Gill said he knew his players had what it takes to deliver.
“I know the other team was a tough team because we played them already, so I just wanted my guys to come to the game and take it seriously. We have a strong unit even the bench is strong, so it is really hard to pick a starting 11,” Gill said.
Christmas finished four weeks ago but SMNE received a wonderful gift of an all-expenses paid trip to Trinidad and Tobago from March 27th to April 2nd where they will play two matches.
That was made possible through the efforts of midfielder Nadre Butcher with an assist to former Pro Shottas teammate McCollin, who displayed a wonderful first touch and kept his composure to score past SME goalkeeper Davon Sam.
Both finalists were based in the central zone for this tournament with SMNE finishing third overall ahead of SME on eight points placing fourth.
The large crowd seated at the BFA turf was treated to a game of high quality and SMNE started the ball rolling with that early goal.
They should have had another goal in the second half but Coby Mayers failed to capitalise on the penalty opportunity awarded by referee Khadijah Mars.
The pressure was on the Bryan Neblett coached SME to respond but their frontline led by Most Outstanding Striker Jarad Maxius and Best Midfielder Rashon Gittens, was unable to get anything past a strong SMNE defence.
Neblett, said he felt disappointed because his team played well but failed to finish the job when it mattered most.
SME spent more time dribbling and passing instead of taking chances at the goal bar. That was seen in the last eight minutes of regular time when Gittens, with the opportunity to shoot from inside the 18-yard box, spent time looking fancy and was stripped of possession by SMNE defenders.
As it came down to crunch time with four minutes of extra time, SME almost produced the equaliser when Ronaldo Bailey with a wonderful 25-yard free-kick found one of his teammates lurking in the danger area. But SMNE’d goalkeeper Shaquan Phillips was equal to the task and made a brilliant right-handed save to deny SME and lead his team to glory.
“We played good football but unfortunately finishing let us down in the end. But better luck next time, congrats to the St. Michael North [East] team, “ Neblett said.
Phillips took home a 43-inch smart television for his MVP performance while the other outstanding players each had a smart tablet.