By Franklin Wilson
Reigning Kashif and Shanghai and Cellink Plus Premier League champions Alpha ‘The Hammer’ United has proved that they are still the team to beat when they outplayed Sunburst Camptown to add yet another championship trophy to their collection.
On Sunday evening they were presented with the inaugural Alpha Football Festival (AFF) trophy by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds in a symbolic presentation after defeating arch rivals Camptown 2-0 in the final at the Providence National Stadium, to also claim the top prize of one million dollars, cash and kind, while Camptown will receive $500,000.
In the battle for third place, Santos Football Club turned back the challenge of one time knock-out specialists Pele 1-0 to pocket $250,000 with Pele taking home $150,000.
Carlos Monkhouse netted the winner for Santos in the 45th minute aided by some poor goalkeeping from the usually reliable Shemroy Arthur.
In the historical final, the first for local teams contested at the Stadium, Alpha, with the likes of captain and senior ‘Golden Jaguar’ Shawn Bishop, Anthony ‘Awo’ Abrams, Elton Brown, Gordon Henry, Anthony Harding, Andrew Murray and the latest addition to the squad Emerick Williams, himself a former junior and senior national standout, proved to be too much for the Campbellville based Orlando Gilgeous led unit which also included the inspirational Troy ‘Bugs’ Prescod, Lance Rolston and 16 year-old goalie Richie Richards.
On the night, both teams enjoyed good ball control but it was Alpha who proved that they were the hungrier of the two sides and looked the most dangerous when it came to scoring. Camptown created quite a few chances but were not as offensive minded as they can be.
The nippy duo of Brown and Abrams with Murray’s backing had the Camptown defenders led by Gilgeous, Devon Dummett and Sherwin Cadogan busy all night especially in the second half.
Both sides had some anxious moments when they came close to scoring, Camptown’s forward line taking a number of shots from outside which also came close, but custodian Ronson Williams had things covered.
The Sunburst team did well to hold off the solid Alpha side for 42 minutes before goal number one rocked the nets to send the crowd (Alpha supporters) into a wild frenzy.
Brown, has continued to exhibit his hunger to score when he gleefully accept a pass from Abrams in the 6 yard box which emanated from a throw in from defender Anthony Harding.
The always hustling Brown took a first time volley with his instep that sent the ball rocketing into the back of the nets with the defence guilty of giving him too much space.
The break came quickly after that, which gave each team and their technical staff some time to regroup and strategise for the final 45 minutes.
Alpha it was who came out blazing in the second half and had Camptown on the back foot at regular intervals.
Bishop did a fine job as the playmaker and distributor in mid field as he fed Abrams and Brown as they continued to pose problems for the Camptown defence.
Goal scoring chances were coming more often but the killer instinct was lacking on the part of Alpha but at the same time, Gilgeous and his boys did well to break down Alpha’s promising runs in the attacking third.
Richards also brought off some good saves to some menacing shots as the ball was made slippery due to the night dew. Murray too, was guilty of hitting wide of the goal.
While Camptown only made one substitution with Dexter Mollyneaux making way for Delon Johnson in the 64th minute, Alpha utilised their full quota of three which gave them the extra nip in attack in the final half hour.
Vellon Thorne was replaced by Emerick Williams in the 56th, Wendell St. Hill took Murray’s place in the 80th and 10 minutes later, Brown made way for John Waldron.
St. Hill justified his introduction to the game when he headed home a corner taken by his captain Bishop in the 90th minute.
Even the 4 minutes of added on time could not have seen Camptown mounting any serious challenge to the dominant Alpha performance.
So when referee Roy Mc Arthur sounded the final whistle, it prompted wild celebrations from the Alpha players and technical staff who were joined moments later by some of the spectators including children of the players.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Guyana Football Federation President Colin Klass and President of the organizing Club Alpha, Odinga Lumumba later joined the excited players to hand over the Leslie ‘Fatman’ Holligan Championship Trophy to captain of Alpha ‘ The Hammer’ United, Shawn Bishop.
Holligan, a former ‘Golden Jaguar’ and Alpha Player passed away one year ago and Lumumba said the club decided to name the main trophy for this competition after him to preserve his memory as he was a very courageous and disciplined player.
Alpha Coach Wayne ‘Wiggy’ Dover complimented his players for bringing home the bacon which he said was achieved due to hard work and he was very pleased that there was 100% attendance at practice sessions which showed that his charges are serious of maintaining their dominance on the local scene.
He also said that Camptown can count themselves lucky that many more goals did not hit the network.
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