'Elated' Flemmings recounts maiden goal for Boyz

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport Editor

Friday, October 18, 2019

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MIAMI, Florida — Like any ambitious international footballer Junior Flemmings had long been awaiting the arrival of his first goal for the Senior Reggae Boyz.

The great feeling of notching his first goal finally arrived on Tuesday night in the return leg of the Concacaf Nations League Group C of League B game against Aruba at Stadion Ergilio Hato in Willemstad, Curacao.

Flemmings, the Phoenix Rising outstanding player, gave Jamaica a 5-0 lead two minutes into the second half, and the player immediately sank to his knees just beyond the goalline to give thanks to the Almighty, as his teammates rushed in to join the celebration.

It appeared an emotional celebration from Flemmings, and it would not be a surprise if a tear was shed, for the player was denied that joyous feeling earlier in the first half when he rose highest to head home a right-sided corner, only for Costa Rican referee Ricardo Araya to call foul play on Shamar Nicholson.

“I'm really elated to be honest,” Flemmings told the Jamaica Observer.

“When you look back at it, even at the Gold Cup I was playing more of a midfield role, so I didn't really get the opportunity to express myself in terms of going forward and be creative. And this one [goal] was really important for me and the celebration could tell, I was really emotional about that one, and I just hope it is one of many to come.”

Flemmings was one of four players who scored their maiden goals for Jamaica. The others were Chavany Willis, who opened the scoring in the seventh minute; Maalique Foster, who scored in the 17th and 53rd, and Clarendon College schoolboy Lamar Walker, who scored in the 19th minute.

Nicholson was the other scorer in the 34th minute.

The former outstanding Jamaica College Manning Cupper admitted his disappointment when his initial header went in but was disallowed for a foul call on his teammate.

“Yeah, I mean when I headed that one in and the referee called a foul on Shamar Nicholson, I was like 'oh my', but I just had to keep working because I felt the goal coming.”

Flemmings, who has scored 15 times this season for United Soccer League's top club Phoenix Rising, including seven assists, said Head Coach Theodore Whitmore had drafted that strategic play during the half-time break, which resulted in his goal within minutes of the restart.

“To be honest when we went in the locker room at half time, Coach Whitmore pointed out that same play, and in the second half we did it and it came out well.”

The ball was played to Shaun Francis on the left flank and he relayed a pass to Nicholson, who played it over the top of the left channel for Flemmings to latch onto.

He used his speed and drove straight at the goalkeeper before slotting home. With a little bit of luck it could have been a great night for Flemmings, as he had yet another finish in the goal, only for Nicholson to get the final touch on the ball just inside the six-yard box on its way into the goal, only for the assistant referee to flag for offside.

“Yeah, after I took that one down the right flank and got by a couple players, I played it to far post and Nicholson touched it and it was ruled offside.”

Flemmings thought the team played well overall, especially after the criticisms from their laborious 2-0 win at home. And he said based on how the game started he was confident of notching his first goal.

“To be honest the game was really open, like everyone could have scored on the night, and based on how the game started out, I definitely saw goals coming.

“After what happened last night [Tuesday] and these past couple of games, I'm going back to my club and just keep focused on the same path and keep scoring goals.

“The season has been great, my best season so far in America, and a lot of credit to the coach for that because the role I have been playing this year is a free role and that has paid off. When stuff is not going well he wants me to find the ball and make things happen and that has contributed to my game a lot.”

The Phoenix Rising are number one and have already won the Supporters Shield with home advantage for the entire play-offs.


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