St James win U-14 football titleFOOTBALL KINGS: St James players and officials celebrating their title success. (Kenmore Bynoe)
By Justin Marville | Wed, June 27, 2012 - 12:04 AM
KADEEM CLARKE stopped a goal in extra time – then saved his best for last.
St James’ big-time goalkeeper is taking an even bigger title back to Trents after the finals MVP made two huge stops in a penalty shootout, including the decisive save of Monday’s 4-3 shootout victory over rivals Alexandra in the Coca Cola Under-14 Cup final at the National Stadium.
Clarke’s heroics proved the epic story to what was an otherwise unmemorable title-game that went dismally goalless following regulation and two halves of extra time.
But it wasn’t for the complete absence of chances.
Tishquam Connell will rue muffing the contest’s lone clear-cut opportunity for a while to come as the Alexandra striker missed a wide-open, point-blank shot just minutes before the shootout for what would’ve been the game’s certain winner.
And that was just a part of the sad tale for a luckless Connell, who also had a subsequent goal disallowed only seconds later after being ruled offside, before watching Clarke make the game-winning save on his penalty attempt.
It was the second of two penalties the gallant custodian turned back following Kiserian Adams’ ill-fated decision to go right down the middle against an unmoved Clarke.
However, that initial effort merely kept his team in the shootout as teammate Shakeim Clarke had his shot saved by Bradley Boyce on St James’ second penalty, and Shacolby Corbin scored to give Alexandra a 2-1 lead
But Kadeem Clarke also blew his attempt after Ridon Pilgrim-Ramsay levelled the scores, only for Demario Hope to let him off the hook when he kicked Alexandra’s fourth penalty wide.
The shootout was extended to a sixth kicker after the teams scored three apiece, and Kadeem Clarke eventually gave St James the victory when he dove to his left to deny Connell after Akeem Welch put the Trents lads ahead on the previous shot.
“I told my team before the shootout that I was going to pick all five even though it didn’t work out that way, but I knew I was going to get the winning one,” said Clarke.
“It feels great too because I was under pressure in the first half and I was upset that we hadn’t scored yet.
Though Alexandra enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, it was St James who created the first real opportunity as Shakeim Clarke burst down the right flank and forced a defender to clear the ball in front of goal on an ensuing strike just five minutes into the contest.
Alexandra threatened on a subsequent counter-attack though, with Gavin Sandiford barely straying offside following Hope’s telling run on the right wing.
Shakeim Clarke still continued to pose problems for Alexandra’s backline on the other side of the halftime whistle, twice whipping balls into the area that his teammates couldn’t get on to, before forcing Bradley Boyce into a finger tip save on the stroke of regulation.
However, it was Connell who was afforded the game’s true scoring opportunity.
Probing down the right wing, Hope delivered a great cross into the area that eluded teammate Jadam Moore but found Connell free at the back post, only to watch the hapless striker spray the point-blank shot wide.
This was after Lashan Clarke tested Shakeim Clarke with an on-target shot from just inside the half line.
Earlier, perennial powerhouses St Leonard’s shutdown the tournament’s leading scorer Shadane Went while second-half strikes from Nashaum Forde and Akobi Belle gave them a 2-0 win over Harrison College in the third-place game.
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