Ready, set, Strike!
THEY MAY NOT HAVE been among the list of national Independence awardees, but that didn’t stop L.G. Kick Strike Force from being one of the biggest winners on Independence Day.
Before a packed National Stadium on Saturday night, the Bayland-based team walked away with the coveted first prize of $100 000 after capturing the LIME Pelican Football Challenge with a workmanlike 1-0 extra-time victory over T.S Strikers.
With the game still goalless at the end of full time, Carl Joseph’s powerful header in the 104th minute was all Strike Force needed to get past a pesky T.S. Strikers unit, which dominated for large periods during the game.
The whistle blew sparked wild celebrations as supporters converged on the pitch to join the team in their moment of glory.
But even in victory, winning coach Randolph Cox told NATION SPORT that some issues leading up to the finals marred what should have been a memorable victory.
“To be honest, the feeling is a nice feeling, but it is not the way it should be.
“We had a lot of negative vibes this week going into this game and I am going to be honest and say that it hurt to see how hard this team worked, and the vibe that it got leading up to tonight’s finals,” Cox maintained.
“This final should have definitely been sweeter.”
He dedicated the victory to Sherlock “Nat” Yarde, one of his closest friends, who passed away in 2012.
“This win is for Sherlock. I feel proud to know that I could have come here, worked hard and mission accomplished.
“I know this is one of the competitions that eluded him in his lifetime, and I dedicate this victory to him,” he added.
The contest never lived up to its hype, as both sides regularly and needlessly passed away the ball in the first half, while struggling to create goal-scoring opportunities.
Scrappy first half After a scrappy first half which failed to create any clear-cut chances, Strike Force were unlucky not to go ahead five minutes into the second period.
A poor clearance from T.S. Striker’s Renaldo Bailey was directed straight into the path of Hayden Holligan, who unleashed a powerful left foot shot from just inside the penalty area.
But Holligan could only watch on in disappointment, as the ball beat everyone, including T.S. Striker’s goalkeeper, Omari Eastmond, before cannoning into the left goal post and back into play.
T.S. Striker’s Jabarry “Papi” Chandler then sent his shot from inside the eight-yard box just wide of the near post, with Strike Force’s custodian Kareem Farrell well beaten.
The Gall Hill-based T.S. Strikers can have no one but themselves to blame for wasting several chances to take the lead, after dominating almost the entire second half.
Jabarry Chandler and his brother Jamal Chandler were constant threats, but Strike Force’s defensive duo of Kimoi Seale and Jonathan Straker were equal to the task with outstanding performances.
And with Strike Force deploying all 11 men in defence, it came as a complete shock when they took the lead in the first period of extra-time.
Substitute Giancarlo Cobham’s first corner was headed behind by T.S. Strikers’ Rico “Sas” Baptiste, but on his second attempt, Joseph rose majestically at the back post unmarked, to nod home.
T.S. Strikers’ could consider themselves a bit unfortunate not to have been given a bit more injury time after several stoppages during the final period of extra time, but in the end, their poor finishing proved to be their downfall.
“I feel very disappointed,” crestfallen Thomas Jordan, coach of T.S. Strikers said.
“I thought we played a pretty good game, although we didn’t create as many chances as I would have liked, but I think the guys were a bit overwhelmed at the occasion.
“I thought we should have created a lot more chances since we had more of the ball, but the guys weren’t as sharp as they usually are tonight, but that happens in football sometimes.”