Dec 31, 2012 Sports Comments Off on Minnows rule the roost
Powerhouses Pele and Alpha sent packing
The pundits had predicted the results and already some had mentally inscribed the Alpha United insignia on the ‘Holy Grail’ while a great many has predicted a victory for Pele FC. The script was well written and both teams entered the semi-final stages full of confidence and ready to conform to destiny. ‘The Hammers’ were up against the lowly rated Buxton United FC, while Pele was set to dispose of Amelia’s Ward.
In a strange twist of fate both underdogs threw a monkey wrench into those predictions, relegating the two powerhouses to the sidelines when the semifinals of the 23rd edition of the Kashif and Shanghai football extravaganza concluded at the Buxton Community Centre Ground, Saturday evening last. Pele went down 2-1, while Alpha lost 1-0 following a terrible mix up at their goal mouth that eventually resulted in a goal default situation.
Pele was the first casualty after Travis Waterton scored from a free kick just outside the 20 yards box in the 18th minute to send the Lindeners ahead and the huge crowd of supporters into wild ecstasy.
Those players stated their intention from the onset, invading Pele’s space while keeping their goalie, Shemroy Author on his toes. Three times he was tested after Amelia’s strikers sent in stern tests and he prevailed on every occasion, punching the ball out or firmly cuddling it to his chest. The Upper Demerara lads stuck to the tasks up until Waterton changed the score line.
Pele’s determination rose to the fore with Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson, Konata Manning and Dirk Archer working in tandem to create problems for the Lindeners.
The Amelia Ward’s defence was up to the task and averted any catastrophe. Sheldon Holder then got into the act, collected a pass just over the halfway line and sprinted down the left flank to Amelia Ward’s goal only to rue his chances with a limp strike which the ‘keeper’ scooped up.
Cognizant of his goal scoring propensity, the Lindeners singled out Richardson for special attention and kept him in check for most of the session. This allowed Travis ‘Zorro’ Grant to capitalize in the 47th minute after a clever build up, supported by the persistent strike force of Richardson and Manning, to equalize the score.
Their success was short lived as merely one minute later, Amelia’s Ward had regained control after Keon Sears latched onto a loose pass from the opposition and thundered to their goal. A ferocious kick beat everything in its way and settled at the back of the net to send his team back into the ascendancy.
Thereafter, there was a steady procession as both teams experimented with their substitutes. Amelia’s Ward sent out Marlon Simon for Oswald Benjamin and shortly after exchanged Terrence Aaron for Carlos Grant. Pele called in Quincy Adams and sent out Keoma Greavesande but the ploy failed to change the dynamics.
It was around this time that Richardson broke the shackles and wended his way to the opposition’s goal. The flamboyant striker dribbled past the opposition’s defence cordon and planted the ball in their goal only to be greeted by the dreaded offside whistle. The pundits were divided over its authenticity.
The Pele team demonstrated why they were regarded as a top local team when, despite trailing by one goal, they dug deep with excellent passes and clever dribbling tactics. Clearly, it was not their night, underlined after Manning drove in a ferocious strike that landed just in front of the Amelia Ward’s custodian who kicked it to the touchline. With every wasted opportunity, the Pele squad intensified its efforts while the Amelia ward’s supporters urged on the final whistle which, when it came sent the Lindeners to the finals.
Alpha United played a good game of coordinated football but never bargained for the grit and determination of the Buxton team. The early exchanges saw both teams battling for possession in the Buxton half until Dwayne Jacobs broke away in what looked like a sure goal but Alpha’s defence unit managed to steer him wide and avert any danger. Jacobs continued to torment ‘The Hammers’ and was down their throats two minutes later but their custodian, Richie Richards proved his worth with aggressive keeping. In the meantime, Kelvin McKenzie was working hard on the left wing and did commendable after checking an enterprising run by Clive Andries. Despite the fierce exchanges neither side could find the magic to send their team ahead and went in at half time nil all. The Buxtonians started the second half aggressively and forced the opposition’s defence deep into the boxed area. Thereafter following a goal scrimmage the ball bounced into Alpha’s goal by default.
Buxton United, urged on by their coach, Herbert McPherson, held firm to their lead while just a few yards away Wayne ‘Wiggy’ Dover shouted instructions to his men. There followed several changes by both teams even as the Buxtonians, realizing they had a golden opportunity to advance, fought furiously to retain their dominance.
In the meantime, the crowd, comprising largely of Buxton fans, willed the referee to blow off the game. It seemed an eternity even as the Alpha side worked desperately to change their fortunes. When it sounded, the entire arena, comprising mostly Buxton United supporters, erupted into celebrations. They launched firecrackers and created enough noise to awaken ever villager on the East Coast corridor.
Meanwhile, coach of the Amelia Ward team, Ceon Warner, was ecstatic after the game. He said that his men had worked hard during the preparatory stages of the tournament and while he was satisfied with their performance he was not surprised. “We entered the tournament as the underdogs and we would have wanted it no other way because it gives us the opportunity to spring a few surprises,” he said. The veteran coach feels that the result is just reward for all the hard work even as he exudes confidence of winning the finals.
Buxton United coach, Herbert McPherson feels exonerated following an affirmative pre-tournament prediction. He had backed his boys then while pointing out their achievements in the GFF Leagues where they won 3 matches while conceding 2. The other two matches ended in draws. The team missed last year’s tournament and spent that time honing their skills under the tutelage of McPherson. “We are all the way,” McPherson exhorted shortly after last Saturday night’s game.
The players return to the field on New Year’s Day at the National Stadium, Providence where a new team will claim the top prize of over $4M dollars. The main game will be preceded by the third place playoff with Pele FC and Alpha United FC. The two rookie teams have risen to the occasion and have earned every right to contest for the top prize. Fans are assured of an intense battle as the two underdog teams ascend the big stage for the first in the tournament’s existence. Let the battle begin.
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