East Central’s title
It was heart-racing stuff on Sunday night at Kensington Oval. This time it was not of the typical cricket variety but the third-place play-off and finals of the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Council football tournament.
Christ Church East Central defeated a feisty St Michael South East 2-1 to claim the third edition of the competition, and their first since it started two years ago.
Christ Church East Central survived two penalty kicks and a series of cramp victims to be crowned kings of the tournament. They were also the beneficiaries of some luck in the 12th minute.
A fast break down the left by Sherwin Success resulted in a low cross into the area that was met by a firm effort from Jamal Chandler, which was brilliantly saved by young custodian Romario Broomes, but the ball ricocheted off the legs of defender Prince Shaka-Cooke and rolled into the back of the net, giving the southern side a fortuitous lead.
Christ Church East Central dominated most of the possession in the first half and opted to go down the right-hand side with tournament MVP Darian King. He was a constant menace for the St Michael South East defence, taking them to the cleaners on countless occasions and teeing up his forwards for opportunities on goal.
King truly showed his class in the 25th minute, going down the right and swivelling by Tyriq Highland and Mario Marshall only to find his right-foot effort headed out of the top corner by Cooke.
St Michael South East struggled to create attacking opportunities, with their decision-making and execution leaving a lot to be desired in the final third as they chose some audacious options in and around the penalty area.
After the break, St Michael South East finally came into their own and got key players Mario Harte, Nicholas Best and Carlos Bovell on the ball more frequently, resulting in a series of corners and free kicks, which they however wasted.
One such set piece they wished they could have back was the first of two penalties conceded. Christ Church East Central goalkeeper Justin Johnson had a moment of madness in the 81st minute, when he seemingly dropped the ball at Harte’s feet and, as the forward was about to take advantage of his mistake, the young shot stopper grabbed Harte’s leg to give up the spot kick.
Highland stepped up, and his tame left-foot effort was brilliantly saved by Johnson, who made amends for his tomfoolery by diving to his right for the impressive save.
Lightning struck the same place twice in the 85th minute, as St Michael South East were granted a second penalty after substitute Jason Lovell tripped Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) teammate Nicholas Best inside the penalty area to spark a loud roar from the large crowd and several protests from the Christ Church East Central players.
Harte was given penalty-taking responsibilities this time and the national forward showed his class, sending Johnson the wrong way and levelling the scores 1-1.
But Rico “Sas” Baptiste completed his impressive year by fittingly scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute. With some space granted in the penalty box he stepped by one defender and slammed his right foot effort into the far corner, causing frenzy in the Greenidge & Haynes stand where their boisterous supporters celebrated.
St George South and previous champions, The City, played to an enthralling 2-2 draw in regulation time, but St George South emerged winners of the third-place play-off in the penalty shootout 4-2. St George South opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a quality strike from former English professional Gregory “Lalu” Goodridge.
His right-footed inswinging, free kick from the left found the top left-hand corner, as custodian Andre Small looked on in despair.
Carl Joseph tied the scores with a free kick of his own in the 57th minute, this time from just on top of the “D”.
Shaquille Belle gave St George South the lead for the second time in the 59th minute; throwing his body between two defenders, to scramble the ball over the line.