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BARBADOS - Football Association's Knockout title
IT WAS PRIDE AND PROSPERITY for Gall Hill and no pleasure or joy in Paradise as they captured the Barbados Football Association's Knockout title at the YMCA.
Playing with passion and purpose, Gall Hill's performance wasn't polished or perfect but one purely of perseverance as they prevailed 1-0 over a surprisingly physical Caribsurf Paradise outfit in a Christ Church derby which lacked fireworks even though they were some fiery exchanges and fistic action.
After no goals came in regulation time and the first 15-minute period of extra time, midfielder Andrew Butcher confidently slotted home the winner in the 111th minute to trigger celebrations among the Gall Hill players and fans.
Butcher latched on to a through ball from defender Carlos Nicholls, who made a daring run through the middle of the field and beat Paradise's goalkeeper Jason Boxill to his right.
Long-serving coach and former captain Eyre Sealy said the championship success, their first since winning the Knockout title in 1998, was one of the most satisfying triumphs for him in all his time with the Christ Church side.
"We have a lot of little teenagers, not yet developed as yet and we won't win the game being more fancy or more pretty than other teams. We are not blessed with overwhelming talent but what you don't have in talent, you have to make up for in hard work and we have done that and that is what has seen us through," Sealy said.
"No one really expected that we would have been in a position to win a Cup this season and the mere fact that we have definitely overachieved and surpassed expectations, it is really a good feeling, considering all the problems we had last year. I am really happy for these boys," added Sealy, the new Barbados coach.
Gall Hill did not fully capitalise on their two-man advantage but could have widen the margin had the dreadlocked Kevin Moore not chipped the ball wide with only Boxill to beat.
Paradise, the defending champions, simply dug their own grave and their only fight came with their fists and feet.
First, the experienced Michael Brandon missed a second half penalty after the fleet-footed Michael Young was adjudged to be fouled from behind by defender Jamar Sargeant even though some fans felt he had played the ball.
Brandon stepped up and tamely righted his shot to the left of Eastmond, who dived and pushed the ball away. Brandon had a follow-up shot but again the National Under-21 custodian was equal to the task and deflected the ball for a corner.
"I was telling myself that I had to do it for the team. I ain't come here to die easy and I wasn't going down without a fight and that I'm going all the way. I said this is no time to panic. I just concentrated and focused at the job at hand," Eastmond said after the match as he recalled his most memorable save which kept his team's title hopes alive.
Instead of jubilation for Paradise, it was pain and agony as the Dover side was reduced to nine men when Jamar Harewood and substitute Trevor Mayers were both red-carded by FIFA-accredited referee Barney Callender for violent conduct after committing two blatant fouls.
In the 84th minute, Harewood, who was whistled for off-side while being challenged by Gall Hill's goalkeeper Omari Eastmond, stupidly got off the turf and stepped on Eastmond, striking him on the nose.
It led to an on- and off-the-field confrontation between the opposing players but when the dust had settled, Harewood was escorted to the dressing room by the match commissioner Tawana Weekes.
And to compound Paradise's plight, teenager Mayers punched Oscar Nero in the face just after play had restarted following a foul but an alert Callender spotted the infringement. Sealy said he thought the Paradise's tactics went overboard.
"I expected them to be very physical and they were overly physical. I thought they were a bit too hyped up. They were hitting players off the ball a lot and some of the challenges were very questionable.
"I am a bit surprised at them but I know that they would have come and battle hard," added Sealy.
In the preceding third-place play-off, Claytons Kola Tonic Notre Dame defeated Ajax Construction Silver Sands 1-0, courtesy a 16th minute header from the seasoned Chesterfield "Datsun" Simpson.
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