Jul 16, 2013 Sports
By Rawle Welch
New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI) returned to the Digicel Nationwide Schools Football Championship with a bang after squeezing past New Amsterdam New Amsterdam Multilateral School (NAMS) by a 2-1 margin to win the Region 6 Zone on Sunday, at the Skeldon Community Centre ground, Berbice.
Playing before a small but vocal band of football enthusiasts, NATI, who placed third overall in the inaugural year of the competition and who did not compete last year, were led to victory through strikes from Shemar Richards (41st) and Jarell Walters (63rd), while Shakeel Grant’s (33rd) effort had given NAMS the early ascendancy in a game that showcased rich talent.
NAMS enjoyed the early exchanges and dominated possession as NATI’s backline found it difficult to contain the irrepressible Jamal Butts, whose blazing runs down the right wing was causing them much bother.
It took some sturdy defending from central defender Jamal Walters to deny NAMS the early lead, but it was the same Walters, who in his exuberance to lead from the front that allowed the opposition to take control of the game when he unpardonably jumped in front of his goalkeeper to clear a header from a corner, but only succeeded in missing his attempt with the ball managing to also elude the grasp of the custodian and fall into the goal.
However, eight minutes later, the lanky Richards eased the tension for NATI when he received a pinpoint pass from the halfway line, dribbled past his marker, before firing home from close range.
The break came with none of the teams able to add to their score and the game remained deadlocked at 1-1.
After the resumption, NATI, who were clearly the overwhelming favourite, came out with more fervor and intent on asserting their dominance and had a few opportunities to score, but errant shooting and inexcusable miscommunications deleted the initial efforts as the game remained poised on a knife’s edge with the underdogs NAMS giving as much as they took.
However, it took a thrilling moment of magic to crack the defensive sanctuary of NAMS that left it exposed.
It started with an enchanting run down the left flank by Richards, who had been a threat all afternoon and who was the target of multiple defenders and it was one such occasion where he weaved left and right, drawing at least three of them and leaving them in a heap at the corner flag, before delivering a low curling cross into the penalty area which curved away from the advancing goalkeeper on to the foot of a lurking Walters and he finished in style.
The exchanges were fierce after then with Butts and company upping the ante, orchestrating several raids, but Walters and his crew were equal to the task and held firmly to set up a date with Georgetown winners St. George’s, who defeated Dolphin, also on Sunday.
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