Best of the best - Disciplined JC clip Clarendon College to retain Olivier Shield

BY OSHANE TOBIAS Observer writer oshanetobias@gmail.com

Sunday, December 07, 2014

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CLARENDON PARK, Clarendon — The final score said 1-0, but don't be fooled.


This was a comfortable victory for Jamaica College (JC). Once Akeem Shackleford sent them ahead on 16 minutes, there was the gut feeling that it would require something special from Clarendon College to unseat them as the ISSA/LIME all-island Olivier Shield champions.


From minute one, this JC unit carried an air of professionalism about them inside Juici Park. Nothing fancy. They just did what was necessary. They were aggressive, quicker to the ball and defended one-on-one situations in a pair. And, when they recovered possession, there was only one thing on their minds: finding a direct route to goal, which worked well for them.


This is their third silverware of the season, following earlier success in the LIME Super Cup and the Manning Cup. Considering that they lost the Walker Cup final to St George's College, it's not the perfect season, but this is still a tremendous feat. Moreover, no one in their camp is complaining.


"It's a fantastic feeling," beamed coach Miguel Coley. "This is only the second time that we are winning three trophies in one season, so you can see that we are moving in the right (direction), building on what was there before.


"We wanted to win all four titles, but, in any competition, you are always likely to lose a game. We did that against St George's. But what is important is the fact that we showed that can bounce back. It showed character, and hunger."


It's not that Clarendon College performed poorly in this season-ending play-off. JC just did not allow them the luxury to be as rampant as they were in the daCosta Cup final against STETHS. They did have a few look-ins at goal, but none of them was threatening enough to force an equaliser, much less the winner that would have made them the first rural team to win the Olivier Shield since 2004.


"I thought it was a very good game," added Coley. "It was a disciplined performance from the players. We realised that their number nine (Siegel Knight) is their creative player, so we decided to take him out of the game."


Jackie Walters, the Clarendon College coach, agreed. "We weren't aggressive enough," he said, "and we didn't move the ball quick enough. We did make an effort of it, but it's just one of those things. Congratulations to JC; they were more physical and more (decisive)."


Walters is right.


Watching JC against Clarendon College was like watching an experienced heavyweight against a slippery, but unrefined welterweight. The latter is full of flair, quick on the feet and is good value for money. He might even stay the course of the contest, dodging punch here and there. But he's not quite on par with his counterpart, who, despite lacking flamboyance, only needs one clinical moment to deliver the knockout punch.


For JC, that moment arrived just past the 15-minute mark, and you can't say it wasn't coming.


Their most advanced attacking trio, captain Junior Flemming, Raffique Bryan and Akeem Shackleford, had been harassing the Clarendon College backline from the opening whistle, thwarted only by brave defenders, who were even willing to throw their bodies in the line of fire to protect their goalkeeper, Eric Edwards. They were making a fine job of it, too -- only to be outdone by a combination of misfortune and decisiveness from JC.


Raffique Bryan was released down the right channel and quickly got attention from the towering Duchaun Campbell, who went toe-to-toe with his opponent towards the goal line. Bryan, however, proved the stronger of the two, outmuscling Campbell, who slipped and allowed the strapping JC number 11 to cut back the ball for the equally imposing figure of Shackleford. In one motion, the unmarked Shackleford then turned and slammed the ball into the roof.


Clarendon College was better in the second half; more confident and more imaginative. But this is a team that thrives on space and they didn't get much of that from JC, which forced them to entice their forwards with long passes, most of which were over hit — leaving Courtney Dowdie, modelling a light pink kit in goal for JC, to make routine catches all afternoon.


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