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Conquerors into second round

Barry Alleyne

Conquerors into second round

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Dwayne Mars is on the moon.
And his side, Conquerors, are right where they want to be in the country’s richest out-of-season football tournament.
Mars, a livewire striker with lightning speed and a calm demeanour when it matters most, scored two impressive goals Sunday night, as Conquerors became the first team in the $100 000 LIME/Pelican Football Challenge to reach the second stage, with a 3-0 demolition of cellar based Higher Learning on a rainy night at the National Stadium.
But don’t let the three-goal score line fool you.
This wasn’t exactly a vintage performance by the Bay Land-based team.
Though creating genuine scoring chances for most of the match, they lacked spirit in midfield, and simply got the best of a weaker team.
In fact, to say Higher Learning were just a weaker team would be a gracious compliment.
The truth is, High Learning are the weakest side in the tournament, and need a heavy dose of summer school remedial work should they decided to attend the tournament next time off.
At least fans from The Pine won’t have to come and leave in disappointment anymore, since Sunday’s loss eliminated them from the tournament’s preliminary stage.
Conquerors became the first team in the competition to score three goals in a game, and moved them to five points, a tie with Barbados Steel Works Settlers, but ahead by goal-difference, leaving Thursday’s final preliminary matches to decide which other team will go through in Group B.
But back to Mars.
The names Norman Forde and Dwayne Stanford have been on the lips of most fans as probable Most Valuable Player candidates, but Mars certainly gave them reasons to include him on Sunday, his two goals moving him to a competition leading four.
The three points, though never in doubt based on percentage of possession and chances created, did take a lot out of Conquerors, considered pre-tournament favourites.
It took them 40 minutes to break the ice, when Mars, taking advantage of a defensive miscue in the slippery conditions, rounded a defender and calmly slotted home.
After the break, Conquerors kept up the pressure, and Higher Learning simply had no answer. On the few times they came forward Higher Learning were out-thought and out-played by Conquerors’ two most experienced players, former national captain Wayne Sobers, and the evergreen John Parris.
Were it not for some outstanding goalkeeping by Higher learning’s Rommel Primus, inclusive of two brilliant reflexive foot saves on each side of the break, the scoreline could have been much more embarrassing.
Conquerors’ Daquan Adamson actually nailed the game shut with ten minutes left with a superb breakaway goal, before Mars completed an outstanding 90 minutes by padding his goal total in injury time.
In the night’s first game, fans were treated to a helter skelter 90 minutes that saw Bajan Pride fall behind in spite of possessive dominance, then woke up in the final ten minutes for a deserving 2-1 win over 360 Connection.
Dwayne “Schillachi” Stanford gave 360 Connection the lead after 16 minutes completely against the run of play, finishing off a four-pass combination with a clinical finish along the ground.
That goal held in the damp conditions for another 50 minutes, when Bajan Pride lived up to their industrious name and came up with two goals within four minutes, first by Dwayne Miller, then a goal at the death by Jamal Pinder, to seriously increase their chances of making it past the preliminary stage.