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Bajan Pride shine through

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Bajan Pride shine through

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THE?FLAMES?from Fire House have been put out, and the inaugural LIME Pelican Football Challenge final will definitely have a new look to it.
Crowd favourites Jose y Jose Bajan Pride Ballers showed why they have gained the admiration of many by displaying a quality and unified performance to defeat out of season powerhouse Phoenix UFO?Toyota Firehouse 2-1 at the National Stadium last Sunday evening.
Their opponents for the Independence Day showdown at Kensington Oval will be the determined and unpredictable Nu Look Plus GForce 360 Connection outfit, who waited late in the contest to defeat Broad Street Men’s and Women’s Red Tridents 2-0.
 Watched by many dignitaries and celebrities, including Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin and Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, the players did not disappoint as they provided two competitive, nerve-racking matches. 
During the preliminary round these teams played to a goalless draw.
On a very wet and difficult outfield, both teams tried to penetrate through the middle early on, but each team crowded its defensive third and refused to give anything away.
The second half provided the spark as 360’s Dwayne Stanford came into his usual menacing self, taking on the Tridents’ defence almost single-handedly. Strike partner Armande Lashley was no match for markers Jonathan Straker and the young, impressive Ricardio Morris, who was Tridents’ standout player on the evening.
Tridents never looked like a threat and failed to trouble custodian Kerry Holder at any time. Coach Hendy Williams used four strikers on the evening and none provided that eye for goal, but they were not to blame solely as there was no service or creativity from midfield.
As the game edged closer to 30 minutes of extra time, a moment of brilliance and determination prevailed. What seemed like a hopeless ball down the right flank was turned into an assist by Zidkigah Samuel.
Samuel chased the ball down and hooked it back into the box for playmaker Anthony Cumberbatch to head the ball home from about seven yards, giving 360 the lead in the 88th minute.
With virtually all to play for, Tridents threw everything forward and suffered for this by conceding a second goal. 
In the second match, Fire House were forced to come from two goals down when these two last met, with a double strike from talisman Norman Forde earning them a draw. 
Sunday evening seemed destined for a moment of déjà vu, as Bajan Pride were out of the blocks in ten minutes. A fine move down the right resulted in Dwayne McClean having his one-on-one effort blocked by national custodian Jason Boxhill, but the ball ricocheted around the box and fell kindly to Angus Doyle.
His confident shot from close range was aided by the crossbar as the ball came off the underside of goal and fell over the line, sending the Stadium into a frenzy.
Bajan Pride scored again with another fine, collective effort down the right hand side again. This time, it was Doyle being the provider, racing down the flank and crossing a defined ball onto the head of McClean to beat Boxhill from close range in the 32nd minute and were up 2-0 at the break.
Firehouse, with an array of talent, tried to fight their way back with Forde trying to pull the strings in a crowded midfield. He managed however, a glimpse of light and pulled off a ferocious left-foot strike on the top of the area but goalkeeper Greg Jones was equal to the task, pulling off a fine save to deny the former national skipper.
Firehouse pulled one back late in the second half, when second-half substitute Marcus Marshall scored from a left side cross by Ricky Barnes in the 90th minute. They could have snatched the equalizer with the final kick of the game, but Renaldo Bignall’s diving effort was ineffective, as he failed to connect to an Oscar Nero cross from the right. (RG)