By Michael Benjamin
Several weeks of intense rivalry climaxed to a delectable conclusion and Alpha ‘The Hammer’ United FC reigned supreme after edging Rhythm Squad 5-4 when the final chapter was read at the GFA/Stag Beer 2014 Futsal Football tournament at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH) last Saturday evening.
Thrilling, heart-stopping, scintillating and nail-biting; the match had all the ingredients of a world class encounter and the large crowd that filled the eastern and western bleachers were wrapped in ecstasy and jubilation from the start right down to the final whistle amidst riveting football.
Alpha started out as the favourites but Rhythm Squad relished the underdog status and commenced the game aggressively. The early exchanges were fast paced with both custodians; Alpha’s Ronson Williams and his opposite number Dorville Stewart, executing expert saves. Alpha strike force of Dwight Peters, Aldair Paredes and Travis ‘Zorro’ Grant withstood the test after denying their opponents through skilful offensive ploys or staunch defensive plays.
Sceyon Hope had been the lynchpin of Rhythm Squad strike force in earlier matches and was the first to test Alpha’s custodian with a stinging offering which Williams did well to hold on to. Lytiton Ramsay joined the action and ripped in a wicked right foot shot but that too, failed to get past Williams.
All this time, Grant was patrolling the right flank and was eventually gifted a pass which he collected at a sharp angle but nonetheless sunk the ball to send ‘The Hammers’ up one goal in the 10th minute. In the meantime, Amos Ramsay pressed on, attempting to equalize the situation for Rhythm Squad but instead his wayward shots failed to find their mark.
The match continued at a fast pace and when Rhythm Squad earned a penalty in the 17th minute, through a technical rule, their custodian, Stewart took matters into his own hands and his power shot was rebounding off the network long before Williams had moved. Stewart repeated the feat one minute later, again from the penalty spot after an identical infraction by Alpha and his team was in the ascendency. Daniel Wilson ensured that Alpha stayed in contention when he netted the first of 2 goals in the 19th minute and the teams went into the intermission at 2 goals apiece.
Dwight Peters has been kept quiet for most of the first session and he came to life at the start of the second with a strike that spelled goal from the time it left his boot but for the theatrics of Rhythm Squad’s goalie who did well to punch it back into play. Williams then emulated his counterpart and denied Amos Ramsay after the latter player had delivered a firm strike.
The vast majority of the crowd seemed to favour the underdogs and vociferously willed Rhythm Squad to up its ante. Instead it was Alpha that responded compliments of a thunder kick from Wilson to register his second success in the 26th minute which pushed the score up 3-2 in favour of Alpha.
Grant pushed victory further away from Rhythm Squad with a wicked left footer and even as the ball settled aback the nets with the clock ticking off the minutes, a large portion of the audience wended its way to the exit, convinced that Alpha had sealed the deal.
Indeed, it looked like the final hoorah but Rhythm Squad proved that they are made of sterner stuff when Amos Ramsay compensated for his earlier transgressions and netted a brace in the 35th and 38th minutes. It was just about 01:45hrs while the game clock registered less than four minutes to the end and a possible penalty shootout when Ronson Williams trapped a pass way over in Alpha’s territory and simultaneously delivered a thunderous kick to the opposition’s goal.
The ball sped off like a bullet from a high powered gun, gathered momentum around centre field and zipped past Dorville Stewart’s outstretched hands to settle aback the nets. The whistle sounded simultaneously to seal Rhythm Squad’s fate while handing Alpha another victory and lucrative accolade to its bulging cabinet.
The buzz of conversation as the patrons trooped out suggested that all were satisfied with the action packed encounter, while those that exited earlier would be ruing their luck. For their efforts, Alpha received $400,000 and a trophy while the Rhythm Squad received half of that. Coach Dover tersely summed up the match in post-game comments, “True champions always find a way to win,” he pronounced.
Earlier, Western Tigers FC humiliated their counterparts of Santos FC 5-1 to finish in the third place to cart off the $125,000 prize on offer, while Santos walked away with $75,000. Scoring for the ‘Tigers’ were Stellon David (7, 23), Daren Benjamin (12), Cleon Forrester (25) and Randolph Wagner (30). Kenroy Dominic narrowed the score for the losers in the 26th minute. There were also several exhibition matches that were very entertaining and put the crowd in the mood for the feature attraction.
Meanwhile, the organizers said that they will be announcing the winners of several other categories later on. These include best goalkeeper, most prolific goal scorer and the Most Valuable Players among others. The tournament was sponsored by Ansa McAl.
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