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Do or die at The Oval tonight

Ezra Stuart

Do or die at The Oval tonight

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Attractive and attacking football.
This should be on the menu at Kensington Oval tonight with teams in a must-win situation to earn quarter-final berths in the LIME Pelican Football Challenge.
In the opening encounter at 5 p.m. Emmerson Boyce 5th Ave Bajan Elite will need a victory to keep alive their hopes of a quarter-final berth when they face Indar Weir Travel Centre Barbados Steel Works Top Bay Settlers.
Young strikers Kemar Headley and Chai Lloyd will have to be clinical with whatever chances pass their way if Bajan Elite are to upstage Top Bay Settlers.
An interesting prospect could be the father and son battle as teenage midfielder Romario Harewood comes up against his father, Settlers’ goalkeeper Bernard Howell.
The second game at 7 p.m. will be an important one for last year’s losing finalists, Nu Look 360 Connection, who face a cock-a-hoop T.S. Strikers.
The Strikers, who top the group on seven points from two wins and a draw, are coming off a 3-0 thrashing of DirecTV Red Snappers and would be putting their unbeaten record on the line.
Jamal Chandler and utility player Carlos Nicholls have scored in the last two games. The talented Julian Nicholls also got on the score sheet and striker Armando Lashley would now be chomping at the bit to find the nets again. His lone goal came in the very first match of the tournament against Tech4Less Scotty’s Combined All Stars.
Dwayne Stanford will also have a big task for 360 Connection, whose midfielders Shawn King, Anthony Cumberbatch and Malcolm Marshall will have to show their worth against Strikers’ trio of Ranaldo Marques, Rico “Sas” Baptiste and Chandler.
Andre Daniel and Mark Cox have held the Strikers’ defence together and one expects to see either the latter or right wing backs Jamar Walters and Troy Speede keeping close tabs on the fleet-footed Stanford.  
It will be all about pride in the feature match at 9 p.m. as inaugural champions, Tiger Malt Bajan Pride will be on the brink of elimination should they lose to Akademiks.
Bajan Pride have three points after winning just one of their three matches and desperately need another victory.
Victory for either Top Bay Setters or Akademiks will guarantee them a quarter-final spot, while a draw for both would mmean Bajan Elite and Bajan Pride will have to win their last match by a sizeable scoreline.
Bajan Pride, badly missing last year’s stars Zaeehaeus Polius and Damien Williams, need another playmaker, such as Rondelle Vaughan, to assist Jabar “Buggy” Greene in midfield.
With a lone goal in three matches from inspirational captain and defender Julian Mottley, they will be hoping seasoned striker Walton Burrowes can end the two-match goal drought.
Others such as Carlo Perry, Zico Edmee, Jamel Pinder and Jadai Clarke will also have to show up at the party.
Akademiks, on a high after two opening wins, were brought back to earth by Top Bay Settlers in last Sunday’s 2-1 loss.
Losing Arantees Lawrence to a shoulder injury was a major setback even though Jason Goodridge played and made some threatening moves.
Former Barbados striker Peter Stoute is yet to make an impact, while their marquee player Mario Harte will be looking to show his class against Mottley and Shawn Clarke, if he is forced to play as the point striker, should Lawrence be unable to suit up.
If Harte is used in a wide position on the left or right side, wing backs Corey McCollin and the lanky, hard-tackling Stefan Bowen, who also has a good shot, will be kept busy.
Lionel Paul could therefore be the one to step up for Akademiks unless both Randy Burrowes and Renaldo Bignall play more attacking roles, while Neil Shepherd and Damien Welch are other midfield options.