Wild card team shoots into semis of LIME Street Football
GRANGE Hill Alliance capitalised on their wild card opportunity to secure a spot in the semi-finals of the inaugural staging of the LIME Street Football Challenge after round of 16 action held at the Mineral Heights Netball Court in Clarendon on Sunday.
The team out of Westmoreland will join Smokers (Hanover), Gulf Strikers FC (St Thomas) and Street People (Kingston) who are one step closer to the grand prize of $1 million inclusive of an all expense-paid trip to represent Jamaica at the Regional Guinness Street Football competition in Trinidad & Tobago in June.
The excitement was evident from the very first game, where Little London FC (Westmoreland) got their wings clipped by Hornets Masters (St James) in a closely contested match-up which ended 3-2, after which Smokers scored a 3-0 win over Bamboo Tree FC (St Mary).
Gulf Strikers defeated High Voltage (Portmore) 4-3 on penalties after they played out a 1-1 scoreline.
Real Treasure Beach (St Elizabeth) edged Rising Stars (St Catherine) 3-2; Denver Crescent All-stars (St Andrew) trounced Dromily FC (Trelawny) 5-1; Street People came out 4-2 victors over Young Bloods (Clarendon); Los Perfectos Masters (Manchester) placed a 8-1 clobbering on Parry Town FC (St Ann) and Grange Hill Alliance got by Super Boys (Portland) 4-3.
The teams were allowed some time to hydrate and catch their breath while the LIME dancers and Pretty Boy Floyd kept a moderate crowd entertained.
The quarter-finals then kicked off in cool overcast conditions, as St James faced off against Hanover. Ricardo Hart fired St James in front in the third minute, before Dwayne Smith responded with a hat-trick in the 11th13th and 17th minutes to lift Hanover to a 3-1 victory.
St Thomas then got the better of St Elizabeth 4-3 on penalties after playing out a 1-1 draw. Garry Williams in the fourth minute for St Elizabeth and Oniel Dennis in the 19th minute for St Thomas were the goalscorers.
The third match-up, highlighted by a hat-trick from Odeanny Black, saw Kingston defeating St Andrew 4-2 in exciting, fast-paced end-to-end action. Christopher Dawkins gave St Andrew the lead in the 12th minute, before Black responded in the 14 minute.
Dave Mason then fired St Andrew back in front in the 17th minute, but that was cancelled out by Black, who responded seconds later. Black sealed his hat-trick in the 19th minute, before Andre Reid placed the icing on the cake in the 22nd minute.
If patrons thought that was intense, they had to brace themselves for what was to come next, as Westmoreland's Grange Alliance crushed the dreams of Manchester's Los Perfectos Masters with a 4-3 scoreline. The masters were favoured by most as the best team in the competition, having scored some 21 goals in the parish play-offs.
Westmoreland found the lead in the fifth minute through player/coach Garfield Johnson. Duane James levelled the scoreline with a 12th-minute strike, before Ryan Gayle extended the lead for Westmoreland with goals in the 16th and 17th minutes. Hingsley Isaacs cut the scoreline to 3-2 in the 18th minute as the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement. Isaacs then found himself in problem with the official and was shown a red card.
Derrick Malcolm capitalised on that opportunity to make it 4-2 in the 21st minute, but Jermaine Holmes kept Manchester in the hunt with a 22nd-minute strike. Manchester continued to fight on, but it was not to be, as the heart-wrenching final whistle came and ended their hopes of winning.
Johnson said his team was very much energised and showed up to do their parish proud after being confirmed as the wild card team.
"One million, and going to Trinidad would be a good experience for us, and that is what we are looking at. Going into the semis we are going to keep playing good football and keep the team spirit that as elevated us because we were not training coming into this format of the competition," he told the Jamaica Observer.
The semi-finals and final will be contested on Friday starting at 1:00 pm, with an entertainment package to be headlined by dancehall act Aidonia and LIME's ambassadors Ity & Fancy Cat alongside Pretty Boy Floyd.