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Winning Pride

Ezra Stuart

Winning Pride

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Jose & Jose Bajan Pride Ballers made a triumphant start to their bid for the record $100 000 first prize when the LIME Pelican Football Challenge continued at the National Stadium with a double header on Sunday night.
After Scotty’s Combined Stars had outplayed Higher Learning 1-0 on a second-minute goal by Tristan “Fishy” Parris in the night’s first game, Bajan Pride Ballers, behind a brace from St Lucian Zaeehaeus Polius, defeated TS Strikers 2-1 in the nightcap match.
Polius, 25, who represented St Lucia in last year’s Digicel Caribbean Cup, but plays locally for Bagatelle, was the star of the night as another 6 000 football fans packed the five stands, with a double strike in the 31st and 53rd minutes.
He scored the goal of the tournament to give Bajan Pride Ballers a 1-0 lead. He picked a loose ball about five metres from the 18-yard box and unleashed a cracking shot, which sailed over the head of TS Strikers’ goalkeeper Omari Eastmond and went across the line off the bottom of the crossbar.
The well-built midfielder, who hails from Mabouya Valley in Dennery, made it 2-0, after just eight minutes of the second half, when a casual-looking Jabar “Buggy” Walters played a corner across the Strikers’ goal area.
Polius controlled the ball at the back post with his right foot, switched it to the left and somehow squeezed off a shot between a wall of defenders to beat Eastmond at his near post from an acute angle.
Out-of-favour Barbados defender André Daniel pulled back a goal for TS Strikers in the 65th minute, heading home an Andew Tudor free-kick, leaving big goalkeeer Morrison Taylor with no chance of saving.
But the Christ Church-based side badly lacked firepower upfront and even with the late introduction of Sherwin Success, were unable to grab the equalizer.
The match saw the first ejection of the tournament with Bajan Pride Ballers’ Shane Clarke receiving  his marching orders in the 85th minute by referee Desmond Edwards after picking up a second yellow card for delaying the restart of play.
After a 15-minute late start to the first game, it took Parris just 90 seconds to slot home what turned out to be the winning goal from the edge of the six-yard box for Combined Stars.
He should have scored again a minute later following a neat exchange with his cousin Jamar Parris, but carried forward the ball a bit too much and his gentle push, was cleared off the line for a corner.
Thereafter, the hard-working Tristan Parris was constantly denied by diminutive goalkeeper Romayne Primus, who stripped him of the ball in at least three one-on-one situations.
Parris also kicked away after showing some excellent dribbling skills while substitute Stefan Bowen also made a couple of nifty moves on the left side.
Combined Stars’ goalkeeper?Kareem Farrell had to make two crucial saves in the game, foiling a good build-up between Randy Burrowes and Lionel Paul, and also just managing to clear an ill-advised back pass by Alex Belgrave, one of his central defenders.