The largest crowd ever to grace the National Gymnasium on Mandela Avenue witnessed the crowning of a new champion as Sparta Boss downed Back Circle 5-2 to secure the Petra Organization Futsal Championship on Saturday.
The eventual coronation that occurred following the conclusion of the contest was a rematch of their earlier group fixture and although the youthful Back Circle unit may have won the battle 3-2 on that evening, they clearly lost the war to the experience of Sparta Boss on the dreaded finals night.
While the score line points to a low scoring affair, excellent goalkeeping on either side ensured that the matchup was close from opening whistle to closing.
Sparta custodian Akel Clarke and Back Circle shot-stopper and eventual Best Goalkeeper winner Azariel Davis, thrilled the mammoth crowd that spilt onto the sidelines with the former ensuring that the East La Penitence unit maintained their lead while the latter ensured that East Ruimveldt was still in the contest.
From the onset, Sparta Boss attacked Back Circle and was rewarded with the lead albeit in a fortuitous manner in the fourth minute as a strike ricocheted off the body of a defender and rolled into the back of the net.
The majority of the crowd, clearly favouring Back Circle, was disappointed by the goal and made their voices heard as the Sparta Boss fandom celebrated their team’s success.
More joy would quickly follow for Sparta Boss as Gregory `Jackie Chan’ Richardson, the event’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) made it 2-0 with a powerful strike from the right side in the 11th minute.
Three minutes later further celebrations were ignited camp of the 2015 losing finalist, with Richardson recording his second goal, blasting a powerful effort into the lower left corner from the right side of the field.
For Davis, his spirited displays between the woodwork was eroded by lacklustre defending. On the other side, Clarke, though brilliant, was being assisted by dogged defending from Sheldon Shepherd and Eusi Phillips.
Back Circle eventually pulled one back in the 18th minute through Jermaine Beckles with a powerful shot from the right side which slipped under Clarke giving their large fan base reason to celebrate.
However the celebrations were immediately cut short as Solomon Austin restored Sparta’s three goal cushion in the 19th minute, finishing from the left side into the roof of the left corner.
The second period was all about the Davis and Clarke show as produced a highlight reel of brilliant saves to deny the respective forwards.
Davis especially was in sublime form as he denied Richardson, Devon Millington and Shepherd on multiple occasions while Clarke had the better of his duels with Beckles, Akeemo Anthony and Jermaine Adams.
Ultimately Anthony found a way past Clarke in the 34th minute, giving his side hope after skipping past the final defender and finishing under the advancing goalkeeper.
Nonetheless the fixture was put to bed four minutes later as Shepherd scored, slotting home a first time right foot strike from the left side.
With the win, Sparta pocketed $400,000 and the championship trophy while the runner-up walked away with $200,000 and the corresponding accolade.
Meanwhile, Sophia secured the third position after downing former champions Bent Street 6-4. Desmond Cottam scored five times in the 12th, 14th, 20th, 30th and 31st minute.
He was assisted by Sheik Kamal and Akeem Jaikissoon with goals in the fifth and 36th minute apiece. For the loser, Anthony Abrams registered a hat-trick in the sixth, 10th and 38th minute while Okinie Fraser recorded a hat-trick in the 18th, 19th and 40th minute.
For their efforts, Sophia copped the third place package of $100,000 and a trophy. Bent Street walk away with $50,000 and the respective accolade.
In the individual section of the presentation, Richardson of Sparta Boss was adjudged the MVP, while teammate Millington copped the Highest Goal Scorer award with nine conversions.
Davis of Back Circle clinched the Best Goalkeeper accolade. Richardson walked away with $50,000 while Millington and Davis collected $25,000 apiece.