Underdogs D’urban Street upstages Albouystown for top prize
-Team Guyana (Back Circle) end fourth
After witnessing their team play unbeaten in all of their matches leading up to the finals, fans and supporters of Albouystown were already tooting their horns in anticipation of victory over D’urban Street in the final of the Banks DIH-organised Guinness warm-up competition, which culminated, at the National Cultural Centre tarmac last Friday night.
However, D’urban Street, who recorded an upset victory over reigning Guinness ‘Greatest of the Streets’ champions Back Circle/Team Guyana in their semifinal matchup, returned to inflict a 1-0 win over Albouystown in the final to take the $200,000 top prize for their efforts.
In the battle for third place between Back Circle/Team Guyana and Island All Stars, Orson McCurdy scored a brace to lead the latter team to a commanding 4-1 victory over the former, who like Albouystown, had defeated them in the preliminary rounds.
However, it was the final match of the tournament which commenced two weeks ago and saw five nights of pulsating and enthralling action, which set tongues wagging even before the sound of the referee’s whistle to signal the start of play.
Albouystown kept their opponents waiting for close to five minutes, before they took to the playing area, led by their energetic and versatile striker Andrew Murray Jnr., who has found the back of the net in all of their matches, to loud cheers from their supporters.
Every touch of the ball by Murray and his teammates, especially Shaka Jones and versatile midfielder Renault ‘Bat’ Fraser, brought cheers from the crowd as they expected a goal to be scored at any given time.
But, while some fans expected D’urban Street to be nervous, taking into consideration they were the underdogs, the Omali Nassy led side saved the best for last and played their hearts for the team, drawing some of the support away from the unbeaten Albouystown fans in the process.
To the delight of the crowd on hand, some of whom were left in a trance, Dellon Cadogan rounded Fraser and beat the Albouystown’s defence on the near post in the 9th minute, handing D’urban Street the lead, which they kept up to half time.
Despite being a goal down, Albouystown kept their composure and staged several attacks on D’urban Street’s goal area, but sturdy defence from Jamal Hunte denied them the much needed equalizer they were looking for to push the game into extra time.
However, shortly after seeing Hunte receive a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct, Albouystown were rewarded a penalty in the 27th minute for a handled ball, with Murray Jnr. opting to take the spot kick.
But to the delight of the D’urban Street fans and detriment to Albouystown’s, Murray’s kick struck the right post of the small goal and went into touch and with more unyielding defence meeting Albouystown, Durban Street were the ones celebrating when the whistle went to signal the end of the contest.
In the third place playoff, Eusi Phillips tormented Back Circle/Team Guyana’s defence and fittingly scored the first goal in the 5th minute of play.
Six minutes later Paul Porte made it 2-0 with his strike and following an unchanged score-line at halftime, and one minute after play resumed in the second half, McCurdy collected a pass from Phillips and calmly placed the ball through the legs of Ola ‘Tall Boy’ Pedro, to give his team a 3-0 lead.
Two minutes later the scoreline read 4-0 in favor of Island All Stars, after McCurdy found an open goal that was deserted by Wayne Wilson and despite Bertie Pedro responding with Back Circle’s lone goal in the 27th minute, after missing a penalty kick three minutes before, the writing was on the wall for the disgruntled looking national street football champions.
In the semifinals, Christian Gallaway’s hat-trick which was scored in the 11th, 32nd and 37th minute handed Back Circle a 3-1 defeat, with skipper Daniel Wilson finding the back of the net for his team in the 27th minute, a goal that forced the game into extra time.
Murray’s 7th minute strike was even to relegate Island All Star to contest the third place fixture, while propelling Albouystown into the final.
But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and on the final night of action, that was the scenario for Albouystown, whose unbeaten run throughout the tournament met a much more determined Durban Street lineup in the final.
Durban Street, Albouystown, Island All Stars and Back Circle received $200,000, $100,000, $50,000 and $25,000 respectively, while the remaining four teams in Broad Street, West Front Road, Alexander Village and Tiger Bay each received $15,000.
The tournament was organized and sponsored by Banks DIH, to facilitate Back Circle/Team Guyana who will be representing Guyana in the Guinness Caribbean Street Football Challenge which kicks off on 21st June at the National Park.