Victoria Kings’ return to the place of their greatest triumph became an unhappy reunion as Milerock was crowned the inaugural GTT/Limacol Football Champions, downing the former 4-3 on penalty kicks at the Mackenzie Sports Club (MSC) ground in Linden on Sunday.
Akin to the earlier third place showdown between Topp XX and Winners Connection, the large gathering was forced to endure the lottery of penalty kicks to decide the victor as normal and extra time found the score locked at 1-1.
Asked to take first strike, the East Coast Demerara heavyweight started in the worst possible manner as they were denied by a diving Martin Leacock, sending the partisan crowd into a frenzy. The Linden-based Milerock quickly capitalized on Leacock’s exploits as they calmly converted their first attempt, much to the approval of the gathering.
Victoria Kings eventually got on board in the second round as they netted.
However, Milerock maintained their lead as they also converted from the distance. Despite the tension in the air, the score line moved to 3-2 in the third round as both sides made good of their attempts.
The fourth round began in identical fashion as the visitors netted while hoping that the hosts would fail in their bid. Victoria Kings’ prayers went unanswered as Milerock scored once more, continuing their perfect record from the spot to make it 4-3.
Needing a conversion in the fifth round to keep his side in the contest, veteran hitman Winston Pompey failed from the distance as the shoot-out ended as it began, with Leacock denying the effort to ignite wild celebrations on the field and around the venue.
Due to the win, Milerock pocketed $500,000 and the championship trophy. Victoria Kings received $250,000 and the second place accolade.
Before the fitting end of the grand finale, the hosts’ snatched the early lead in the third minute following the pleasantries of meeting GTT Representative Eusi Francis, Guyana Football Federation Communica-tions Director Rawle Toney, Upper Demerara Football Association President Sharma Solomon and Director of Sport Christopher Jones.
Although Clarence Huggins led their scoring chart with five conversions, it was Owen Williams who provided the perfect start, finishing into the centre of the net unchallenged, after a left-sided shot was parried by the keeper into his onrushing path within the box.
Stunned by their concession, Victoria Kings almost grabbed the equaliser in the 36th minute as Alden Lawrence was denied by Leacock at point blank range within the centre of the box, after pouncing on a loose ball.
On the other side, Huggins nearly increased the lead of the Lindeners in the 38th minute of the bruising contest, flashing his right-footed effort just wide of the right corner, from the top of the penalty area.
Nonetheless, the visitors grabbed the equaliser under fortuitous circumstances in the 77th minute as Akeem Holder netted, silencing the majority of the crowd in the process.
Racing into the centre of the box, Holder stabbed his effort into the left of the goal after a right-sided cross was dropped by the keeper, igniting a goal mouth scramble.
The remaining minutes and eventual extra time intervals failed to separate the sides as the game headed for its eventual outcome.
In the third place playoff, Topp XX downed Winners Connection 4-1 on penalty kicks after normal and extra time finished 1-1.