Bakewell Top XX must have breathed a sigh of relief when the final whistle sounded after a torrid battle against rivals Netrockers that sapped them physically and mentally at the Mackenzie Sports Complex Ground, Linden on Saturday night.
It was night four of the 20th anniversary Kashif and Shanghai tournament and the five time champions, Top XX, eventually won a “pincher” 3 – 2 on penalty kicks after the game was deadlocked 2 – 2 at the end of regulation and extra time of the feature match.
In the night’s curtain raiser, Alpha United recorded the highest goal count by dominating Grove Hi Tech 7 – 1 in a lop-sided affair.
Both Top XX and Netrockers had predicted that the match would have been a tough one but the eventual victors never guessed the immense pressure they would be under after a controversial goal was awarded against them in extra time.
The first half of extra time saw Netrockers taking the lead after the controversial goal and the game was interrupted for some seven minutes.
Netrockers won a free kick on the right flank which was taken by Tony Adams. The ball was covered by the goalkeeper who was at full stretch but the ball clearly passed through his hands and went off the field.
However, referee Roy McArthur blew for a goal which caused pandemonium at the Mackenzie Sports Complex.
McArthur approached his assistant referee for confirmation that a goal had been scored but to no avail.
Mc Arthur stuck to his guns ruling that a goal had been scored despite the pleading from Top XX.
A spectator was also arrested for disorderly conduct on the field before the game’s resumption.
Top XX’s body language told the story of their disappointment but a miraculous goal in the final minute of extra time compliments of Quacy Johnson, who pulled off a fantastic header, sent the game into a dreaded penalty shootout.
Top XX scored their first three attempts, missed the fourth and was rejected by the `keeper at the fifth while Netrockers scored two, missed one and was denied the opportunity to score twice by custodian Carlos Brown.
Earlier, the two sides contested a goalless first half with both sides having several chances to go ahead but failing to capitalise.
In the second half Top XX was able to draw first blood through Collie Hercules, who executed unarguably one of the best goals of the tournament thus far.
In the 73rd minute Top XX won a free kick on the right flank which found the chest of the former national striker Hercules and he put it on his knee and then to his chest once more before clinically dispatching the sphere past goal keeper Deon Tyrell with a firm left footer.
The play apparently stunned the defenders since none of them made an effort to challenge Hercules or defend their uprights.
Instantly Top XX’s tempo raised but Netrockers continued attacking the goal and were rewarded in the second minute of injury and stoppages time when Keon Bristol got a good pass, stormed down the right flank and lobbed the ball over the advancing `keeper for the equalizer.
The Grove/Alpha match showed Alpha was the superior squad in every aspect as they had Grove down by two goals after the first half. Keyon Edwards scored for Alpha in the 31st minute following an own goal in the 15th minute.
In the second half it was much of the same but the fitness and speed of Grove was exposed when Alpha scored the remainder of the goals from scorching runs down the flanks.
Braces from the belligerent Dwight Peters (32nd, 65th) and Dwain Jacobs (80th, 90th) and an 83rd-minute goal from Edison Gomes accounted for Alpha’s goals.