Experience overcame exuberance when Alpha United downed tournament hosts Fruta Conquerors 3-2 in the semi-final round of the Namilco One Love Football Festival held on Wednesday at the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) ground, Bourda and they will now face the GDF in the final.
In what would prove to be a high scoring opening period, Sheldon Holder broke the deadlock for the ‘Hammers’ in the sixth minute, placing his right-footed effort to the bottom right-hand corner from inside the centre of the area. Ten minutes later, Alpha doubled their lead when midfielder Mark Miller found the back of the net through a strike to the lower right-hand side after receiving a right-sided pass.
The Tucville unit pulled one back two minutes later through an Eon Alleyne right-footed free kick from the left side of the field. He stepped up and took the spot-kick, following a rash challenge just outside the box. Alleyne curled his effort past the outstretched hands of custodian Ronson Williams into the left-hand corner of the net.
However, Alpha quickly re-established their goal lead five minutes later when Miller competed his brace, striking his effort to the back of the net from inside the box, following a left-sided corner kick.
Nevertheless, Conquerors cut the deficit once more when Daniel Favourite netted in the 45th+2 minute, through a clinically struck header into the left-hand corner from inside the centre of the six-yard box, after latching onto an Alleyne left-sided cross.
Alleyne nearly levelled the score for Conquerors in the 53rd minute through a left-sided right-footed free kick that forced Williams to tip over his crossbar.
Alpha almost added to their tally in the 64th minute when winger Dwight Peters was denied within the right side of the box by the Tucville custodian in a one-on-one situation, after receiving a through pass from just outside the centre of the area.
Gregory Richardson almost etched his name to the scorer’s sheet in the 81st minute, lashing his first time effort on the run from just inside the centre of the box, high over the crossbar following a right sided pass.
Alpha eventually held on for the win, booking a final’s date on April 27 with the Guyana Defence Force who edged Riddim Squad by a 2-1 margin in the second semi-final matchup. Conquerors will battle Riddim Squad in the third place showdown.
In an invited comment, Alpha coach Wayne Dover said he was pleased with his team’s efforts and hoped for more challenging games for the teams.
“I think it was a good competitive game. I was impressed with the way the team played. They made it a bit awkward for us by not giving us our way on the night,” he said. “We need to see more games like this and see teams opposing Alpha and just make the game competitive as it should be. At the end of the day, the experience of the Alpha unit prevailed but this Conquerors could [learn from the experience] and build on it.”
“The calibre of players and their age augurs well for the club and they can become the undisputed champions once again. I implore on the coach and management to keep this team together and work with them because in my opinion, they are not far away from competing for championships as was demonstrated last night by their performance,” Dover said.
In the other semifinal also at the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) ground, Bourda, Riddim Squad wide man Amos Ramsay fired the warning shot in the seventh minute and lashed his left-footed effort from within the left side of the box just wide of the right-hand side of the goal.
The army unit should have taken the lead 12 minutes later but Desford Williams wasted a golden opportunity when he placed his right-footed effort from inside the centre of the box unchallenged, straight at the goalkeeper.
Ramsay almost pushed the Mocha-based side ahead in the 29th minute when he thumped his powerful left-footed drive just over the crossbar, after cutting into the left side of the penalty area.
The GDF side missed another great chance to open the scoring in the 41st minute when Sam placed his tame right-footed strike directly at the keeper once again, from inside the centre of the box after receiving a flat Delroy Fraser right-sided cross.
The Camp Ayanganna side eventually took the lead in the 53rd minute through a Eusi Phillips penalty kick conversion down the middle of the net, following the dubious awarding of the spot-kick for a handball infraction.
However, Riddim Squad levelled the proceedings six minutes later under similar circumstances when they were awarded a contentious penalty kick for a challenge inside the box. Stepping up to take the spot kick, Sceyon Hope would place his attempt into the top left hand corner.
Kenard Simon almost regained the lead for GDF in the 69th minute, rifling his effort from within the centre of the 18-yard box narrowly wide of the left corner, following a left-sided through pass from Fraser during a counter attack.
With regulation time unable to find a winner, the army side again took the lead in the 107th minute through another penalty kick conversion from Phillips. After being issued a penalty following a challenge on Fraser within the right side of the box, Phillips would power his effort into the top right-hand corner of the goal.
The Mocha-based side thought they had found the equalizer in the 116th minute as a Sheldon Holder-lobbed shot over the advancing keeper from the left side of the box, was cleared off the goal-line by defender Selwyn Isaacs.
As the minutes ticked away, the GDF suffered a setback in the 118th minute when Simon picked up his second bookable offence. Nonetheless, even with the numerical handicap, GDF would hold on to clinch their spot in the finale on April 27.