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Champions!

Wadadah FC seek Premier League berth after beating Faulkland FC in Western Confed final

BY PAUL A REID
Observer West writer

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Former champions Wadadah FC will make yet another attempt to return to the Red Stripe Premier League when the Jamaica Football Federation Confederation play-offs get underway, after upsetting Faulkland FC 6-5 in sudden death in a thrilling shoot-out in the Western Confederation/Charley's JB Rum Super League final at Jarrett Park on Sunday.

The teams played out a 1-1 stalemate over the 120 minutes of regulation and extra time before Wadadah FC extended their good run against Faulkland FC and qualified for the play-offs, which will see two teams eventually earning promotion to the Premier League.

Two teams have already confirmed their places in the play-offs: Dunbeholden FC of the South-Central Confederation and the Paul Tegat Davis-coached Mount Pleasant of the Eastern Confederation. The winners of the KSAFA Confederation is yet to be decided.

On Sunday, Wadadah FC proved their win over Faulkland FC in the second round — Faulkland FC's only loss of the season — was no fluke as they got the better of the pre-game favourite.

Wadadah FC's goalkeeper Devaughn Hawthorne made two big saves in the penalty shoot-out as the former Premier League champions held on for their fourth title.

Daniel Ricketts, who was winning his third Super League title as a coach, was under no illusion as to what his team had pulled off.

“We were the underdogs, so I call it an upset,” he told the Jamaica Observer West.

His game plan was simple.

“We know they use the width of the field a lot, so we tried to use our wingbacks to nullify them, so they don't have the space to work in and to cross, and at the end of the day it worked,” he explained.

Ricketts added that once it got to the shoot-out, he was confident that his players would pull off the win.

“Since the semis we started practising and I was confident that we would be able to pull it off; once they missed we would capitalise.”

Gregory Palmer, the Faulkland FC coach, said they were let down by selfishness.

“We did not share the ball enough when we were in their 18-yard area; we failed to do that as everyone wanted the glory for themselves,” he argued.

He also told Observer West that a number of players complained of “tired legs” and did not want to take kicks in the shoot-out, and so they had to use those who stepped up.

“It is hard to lose a final on penalty kicks, it's anyone's game and some players said their feet were weak, so we used those who wanted to kick. We knew the first three would score, but after that, it was a gamble,” he explained.

Both teams scored their first three kicks before the shoot-out took a dramatic turn. Hawthorne saved Kyle Anderson's effort to give Wadadah FC the advantage.

At 4-4, however, Tyshan Hill, easily one of the better and most consistent players on the field, hit the inside of the left post with his shot and watched agonisingly as the ball ran across the face of the goals and back out.

At 5-5 in sudden death, Hawthorne came up big again, saving Courtney Allen's shot, then Andrae Thomas scored to give Wadadah FC the title.

The penalty kicks were only necessary as both teams failed to capitalise on the few scoring chances they created in the 120 minutes of regulation and extra time.

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