BDF boots thrill
The footballers?wearing the big boots of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) displayed tremendous tenacity to kick their way to KFC Knockout Cup success.
In a seven-goal thriller, BDF sensationally scored two goals in the second period of extra time to pull off a 4-3 victory over title pretenders Mackeson Brittons Hill in Sunday night’s final at the National Stadium.
Playing on a wet and soft outfield from intermittent rain throughout the day, captain Mario Harte (109th) and substitute Shamar Edwards (111th) scored in the space of two minutes to trigger emotional celebrations by the BDF players and supporters.
It was BDF’s second Knockout title since their maiden triumph in 1994 and was achieved in coach Asquith Howell’s second year with the army football recruits following their capture of the Division 1 title last year.
Before BDF’s winning goals, Brittons Hill had taken the lead for the second time of the topsy-turvy encounter in the second minute (92nd) of extra time, when Walton Burrowes, at back post, slotted home a cross from Gregory “Lalu” Goodridge, which bounced awkwardly past BDF’s goalkeeper Saheka “Rossi” Duke.
It seemed that the luck wasn’t on BDF’s side as soon after, Harte superbly struck a free-kick into the roof of the nets, only to have it nullified by referee Rayon Small’s reminder that he had signalled an indirect kick and no other player had touched the ball.
The diminutive Akeem “Ya Ya” Browne won a ball in midfield and played it to defender Kemar Dottin, who released Harte on the left side. The BDF skipper and national pointman cut inside his marker and placed a low shot to Holder’s right to make it 3-3.
Edwards then sealed it for BDF, intercepting an ill-advised pass from Brittons Hill’s sweeper Andre “To Toots” Gibson, and placing his shot into the far corner.
Earlier, soldier Dottin, in the starting line-up with Zico Phillips suspended, gave BDF a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute. The ball rebounded nicely in to his path and he volleyed a one-time shot away from Holder from the edge of the penalty area.
BDF held the lead until half time but three minutes after the resumption, Brittons Hill equalized when one of the rare accurate corners by Goodridge was superbly headed in by another old stager Luther Watson.
Brittons Hill enjoyed the better of the next 15 minutes with Goodridge thrilling the fans with some fancy dribbles, while bemusing both Kadeem Atkins and birthday boy Kyle Gibson.
Goodridge, showing plenty energy in midfield, also set up the second goal for Brittons Hill in the 63rd minute with a cross which Hendy Richardson headed onto the crossbar but an alert Arantees Lawrence reacted quickly and nodded in the rebound.
With Brittons Hill failing to fortify their defence after Richards replaced the injured Rohan Hall, BDF got the equalizer in the 78th minute in almost similar fashion. An inswinging left-footed corner from impressive wing back Teriq Highland ricocheted off the crossbar and substitute Chai Lloyd was on hand at the back post to head in the ball before Brittons Hill defence could react.
Perseverance then paid off for the youthful BDF outfit.
In the opening game, Premier League champions Weymouth Wales captured third place, blanking Silver Sands 5-0 with striker Dwayne Stanford scoring a hat-trick.
Stanford opened the scoring in the 17th minute and after Antonio Thomas (39th) made it 2-0 at half time, he added two more goals in the 72nd and 76th minutes before Jabar Green climaxed an excellent year for Wales, with an injury time goal.