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Last spots up for grabs

Ezra Stuart

Last spots up for grabs

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Stars shining or fire burning? What about Red Tridents being conquered?
Either way, all the ingredients are there for a delightful double header in tonight’s two remaining football quarter-finals of the LIME Pelican Challenge at the National Stadium with three unbeaten teams in action.
In the first game at 6 p.m., Conquerors, who won Group B with eight points from two wins and two draws, will face the star-studded but winless Broad Street Men and Women Red Tridents.
Then at 8:30 p.m., in the feature match, tournament favourites Phoenix UFO Toyota Fire House face surprise outfit Scotty’s Combined Stars in a battle of two unbeaten franchises.
Red Tridents, boasting a starting line of past and present Barbados footballers, have only shown flashes of their combined skills, drawing three games and losing one.
But they are capable of coming good at any time, and Conquerors, who have assembled a mix of young and experienced players, will be wary of what their opponents are capable of.
Even without suspended new Barbados midfielder Dwayne “Boot” Griffith, Red Tridents have players of the calibre of strikers Riviere Williams, Walton Burrowes, Terry Odle and Wyatt Maynard; midfielders John Hawkesworth, Rondelle Vaughan and Romelle Burgess, plus defenders Jonathan Straker, Elvin Griffith, Omar Archer, and talented teen Ricardio Morris.
Corey “Santa” Barrow has been used at left wing back with Archer playing on the left side of midfield but coach Hendy Williams should realize by now that someone with Vaughan’s skills and shooting ability, once fully fit, must be given a starting role and may consider shuffling around his line-up.  
With stalwarts Wayne Sobers, John “Nobby” Parris and Bryan Neblett stabilizing the defence and the seasoned Adrian Chase between the uprights, Conquerors have unleashed speedy strikers Dwayne Mars and Diquan Adamson up front.
They have been a constant threat to opposing defences, benefiting from crosses by the overlapping duo Neblett and Carl Joseph and their pace on the ball may be just too much for slow defenders like Straker, Griffith and Archer.
The revitalized Rudy Grosvenor has also been on song in midfield, along with Kick Start’s gifted Raheim Sargeant, who has made an impact without much fanfare in his first major tournament among the big guns. Conquerors also have the choice of either Renaldo Gilkes, Guyanese-born teenager Edsid Miggins or Aaron Leacock in the defensive midfield role.  
In the night-capper, Fire House will certainly miss the aggression of their first-choice striker Ricky Barnes, who was sent off in his team’s last match. Sherwin Daisley and Marcus Marshall will have to step up to the plate, while the versatile Antonio Griffith can also be used in a striking role.
But whoever is used upfront, the focus will be on Barbados’ two best attacking midfielders Norman Forde and Paul “Soup” Lovell, who not only create but also convert goal-scoring opportunities.
That is an area where Combined Stars playmaker Malcolm “Buju” Marshall has fallen down through his career, but there is no question about his vision and passing ability. His task will be to provide the speedy Tristan “Fishy” Parris with goal-scoring opportunities.
This will definitely be the sternest test for Parris, who will be up against the tournament’s toughest defence.
In that backline, national goalkeeper Jason Boxill is well protected by Oscar Nero and Barry Skeete. Defender Llewellyn Broomes, who may be positioned on the right side, could also be kept busy, as well as the underrated Timothy Walrond at left wing back. Injury-prone Shurland Roberts and either Carlos Nicholls or Dylan Marius will probably join Forde and Lovell in midfield.
Parris could be joined up front by former Eden Stars point man Jeremy Bradshaw, while national Under-17 midfielder Romario Harewood is another teenager with plenty of potential.
The lanky Sheldon White needs to be more clinical, while his experienced brother Jefferson “Butler” White has only been used in a substitute role, with John Stoute preferred in midfield.
Sweeper Alvin “Gate Man” Holder will marshal the Stars’ defence with support from Stefan Bowen, Alex Belgrave and Curtis “Dark Man” Blackman, while this could be the stage for tall Kareem Farrell to showcase his goalkeeping ability.