By Franklin Wilson
A Stephon Reynolds hat-trick and a double from Nicholas McArthur was the foundation that led to Chase Academy retaining championship honours for the second consecutive year as the best in the Digicel Schools’ Football Championships which ended last evening at the Leonora Track and Field Facility, Leonora, West Coast Demerara.
It was a fitting end to the 2017 edition and even as many were speculating that this may be the last year of the championships, Digicel CEO Gregory Dean, one of the many dignitaries attending, informed the media that the tournament is here to stay.
Witnessed by over three thousand fans which included Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock, Minister in the Ministry of Communities Dawn Hastings-Williams, Guyana Football federation President Wayne Forde, Director of Sport Christopher Jones and Digicel Head of Marketing Ms Jacqueline James among others, Chase steamrollered first timers Annai 6-2, while Waramadong’s DC Caesar Fox exacted revenge over Christianburg after six years, beating them 3-1 to claim the third place.
Chase was very dominant and compact in winning the top prize of One Million Dollars that will go towards a school project; they took the attack to Annai from the first whistle with the latter having no real response.
By the 20th minute of the match Chase were already 3-0 up with Nicholas McArthur already achieving his double. His first came in the 9th minute, a left foot shot under Annai’s goalkeeper, Leston Smith.
Even before the first goal, Chase missed two sitters, but the city school never let up and goals came thereafter at regular intervals. There was going to be no fairytale story this time around after Annai recorded one of the most memorable comebacks when they downed Waramadong in their semi final, coming back from four goals down to win 7-5 in injury time.
Chase took command early in the piece and dictated from thereon in. Stephon Reynolds netted the first of his three in the 17th minute, on the end of another good build up, slotting the ball past the advancing goalkeeper.
Already in a nonsense mood and intent on putting an early seal on the One Million top prize, McArthur netted his second and Chase’ third on 20 minutes to further impose themselves on their opponents.
On 37 minutes, Ryan ‘Bum Bum’ Hackett, who was having an excellent game in the engine room (midfield), joined the goal party with an excellent left foot shot that glided past Smith into the back of the nets; Chase 4 Annai 0.
But not to be undone, Annai responded with one before the half time whistle, aided by some ordinary goalkeeping from the tournament’s best goalkeeper, Sese Norville. Orville Daniels’ shot, even though a bit of a surprise, should have been easily grasped by Norville but the shot slipped through his grasp and settled in the back of the nets, applauded by the huge band of supporters for Annai and Waramadong; Chase 4 Annai 1.
Early in the second half, Annai sounded a warning that they would not give up without a fight when the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Sherral Daniels blasted in their second goal to add some more excitement to the match in the 56th minute; Chase 4 Annai 2.
There after though, it was one-way traffic in terms of goals with Chase banging in two more to seal the deal and their second title in as many years. Reynolds was the player to score both, in the 69th and 85th minute, respectively.
Annai did not leave the arena a dejected unit as they collected the second place cheque for $700,000 from Digicel’s Head of Marketing Ms Jacqueline James as well as two of the three prestigious awards, MVP (Sherral Daniels) and Highest Goal Scorer, Naidson Daniels who ended with 11-goals.
Waramadong’s DC Caesar Fox, third place winners via a 3-1 score-line over Christianburg, got their goals from their most prolific scorer, Reon McNaughton in the 11th minute, Whitaker Paul in the 25th and Kevin Hasting in the 43rd minute.
Christianburg got their consolation goal from Darwin Adolphous in the 67th minute. Waramadong collected the third place cheque of $400,000 from Minister in the Ministry of Communities Dawn Hastings-Williams, while the 4th prize of $350,000 went to Christianburg.
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