Shattas nip Botafago 1-0 to contest final on New Year’s night
The three-year monopoly of Federal Winners Connection grip on the GT Beer Cup
Christmas football championship, run by the Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA), came to an abrupt ending, when Eagles United scored a stunning ‘sudden death’ penalty shoot-out 5-4 win, and last year’s losers Silver Shattas nudged through with a 1-0 triumph over Botafago in semi-final clashes on Thursday night at the Mackenzie Sports Club ground.
After both teams were deadlocked after regulation and extra periods of play failed to arrive at a winner, the mandatory five penalty kicks were taken but the scores were still even 4-4. When the first penalty attempt in sudden death play taken by the Winners Connection Marmalaque Davidson, he scored, however there was an infringement as the Eagles goalkeeper apparently moved before the shot was taken. The referee ordered it be retaken and that shot from Davidson was blocked the youthful 16 years old goalkeeper Shawn Gittens. Then Jamal Almond of Eagles United strode to the penalty spot and banged home the winner for a 5-4 win as the spectators ran on to the pitch.
Reports are that at the end of the game Winners Connection protested that decision with the UDFA and it has been referred to the Guyana Referees Council for attention. If that was not enough on a night when there was a scare, where a bottle throwing incident nearly saw the night’s first game being halted at the end of regulation play by the Police. However, good sense prevailed and the game was finally completed after the first regulation play ended.
The game was tough for both teams but the defending champions, Winners Connection, would take the lead through midfield player Keon Sears who headed home their first goal in the 11th minute and put pressure of their younger opponents from the Christianburg area.
But Eagles were resolute in their response and this was evident in their courageous efforts five minutes from half time when they leveled the scores. The equaliser came through Allan Halley who caught the Winners Connection goalkeeper out of position and made him pay for this in the 40th minute.
When the first half ended, it was 1-1 and while the field was not that wet as has been throughout the tournament, play was still difficult under heavy ground conditions.
As play resumed in the second half the bustling forward Yonnick Simon would gain his third goal in as many games when he was tripped in the box, and scored the penalty to give his team a 2-1 advantage to the approval of the partisan Christianburg community fans.
But the champions did fare well under the pressure brought on by the feisty opponents and in the 70th minute their veteran defender Marlon ‘Scary’ Maxius connected with a header which was directed goal-ward to neutralize the game at 2-2, from a play which began on the left wing by wing-back Derrol Dainty.
This 2-2 stalemate remained intact when regulation play ended and after extra period it stuck at 2-2.
With the five mandatory kicks taken it was 4-4 and sudden death was ordered and the drama unfolded as Davidson was unable to convert his retry shot which was sparred out by Gittens; only to see the shot by Eagles United’s Jamal Simon signaling the end of the reign of the triple winners, and Eagles advance to the jubilation of scores of spectators.
The second game was not as enterprising but Botafago and Silver Shattas did try hard to gain the lead. That lone lead would be gained by the Shattas through their top scorer in this tournament Colwyn Drakes, who clutched on to a rebound after the goalkeeper ‘spilt’ the ball in the 75th minute, to put the ball in the back of the net much to the delight of his teammates.
This was to be the deciding goal and it was enough for the losing finalists in last year’s tournament to earn a spot in the final on New Year’s Night against Eagles United at the tournament venue the Mackenzie Sports Club ground.
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