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City take Classic crown

Renaldo Gilkes

City take Classic crown

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Oh, how sweet is revenge!
That’s what the City of Bridgetown football team might be saying after coming from behind to win the inaugural David Thompson Memorial Constituency Council Football Classic 3-2 over the previously unbeaten St Thomas in the final at Kensington Oval last Sunday evening.
The third place play-off between St Michael West and St Joseph was won 4-0 by St Michael West, perhaps inspired by the presence of Speaker of the House of Assembly and parliamentary representative Michael Carrington on the technical bench.  
A double strike from speedy striker Dario Haynes in the 32nd and 46th minutes, along with goals in the second half by striker Kemar Headley in the 51st and left wing back Kirk Beckles in the 59th highlighted their dominance.
The crowd was of similar magnitude to that which witnessed last Wednesday’s LIME Pelican Challenge Final, as spectators from all corners of the island came to watch the classic clash between town and country.  
The City, with an array of talent and current national players, were favourites but the determined St Thomas held the head-to-head advantage, having won 2-0 in a previous round.
Buoyed by their “home advantage” and vocal spectators, The City were out of the blocks first.
A neat move on the right by captain Jeffrey Williams and forward Dwayne Mars created some space but resolute defending by St Thomas cleared the danger.
St Thomas took some time to settle, during which the City sought to pile on the pressure. They favoured the right side, with Williams taking on left wing back Kevin Scott repeatedly and linking up with his centre midfield to create chances for his forwards.
St Thomas eventually got their rhythm going and played a more patient game, knocking the ball around in midfield with playmaker Jason Collymore calling the shots.
Shaquille Stewart, who won the Best Forward award, was busy with his movement off the ball but marker Mitchum President was equal to the task.
The deadlock was broken in the 39th minute. A loose ball deceived centre back Jomo Brathwaite on the quick Kensington surface and Stewart pounced, controlling the ball with one touch before slotting home inside the far post.
The lead was short-lived as the City responded in the 42nd minute. Keeper Anthony Rollins was good enough to deny Mars but the rebound fell kindly for Rohan Hewitt who tapped in from close range.
The game was now free-flowing as defensive cracks were easier to identify and exploit. Tackles abounded as the players’ adrenaline levels were at their peak.
In the 45th minute St Thomas won a free-kick just outside the penalty area and Collymore found the net with a classy precision strike, sparking celebration in the Greenidge & Haynes Stand where there was a sea of blue and a banner read “St Thomas On the Move”.
The second half lacked the zest of the first, as legs unaccustomed to the expanse of the Kensington pitch grew tired. Both coaches responded with a number of substitutions, and in the 58th minute City levelled with a fantastic collective effort.
A tremendous pass by Williams into Carl Joseph’s path released the fleet-footed winger who played an inch-perfect pass across the goal for Hewitt to score his second of the match, side-footing into the bottom right-hand corner.
City regained momentum and control over the match as they exhibited their experience.
They switched their point of attack to the left-hand side, with Joseph – who was having a fantastic game – tantalizing the crowd with his pace and dribbles as he provided quality crosses into the area.
Joseph was again in the mix when his team grabbed that important go-ahead goal – which proved to be the winner – in the 82nd minute.  
He went around his marker with ease and whipped the ball in with pace. Hewitt scuffed his chance but Mars picked up the loose ball, turned a defender and slammed his shot inside the near post, past a helpless Rollins whose view was obscured by a cluster of defenders.