Excelsior, Hydel to contest Walker Cup final

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, November 10, 2018

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EXCELSIOR High and Hydel High will meet in the final of the ISSA/Digicel Walker Cup knockout competition after registering contrasting victories over St Catherine High and Cumberland High in their respective semi-final encounters at Spanish Town Prison Oval yesterday.

Hydel High came away 3-0 winners over Cumberland in a lopsided affair, before Excelsior High got by St Catherine High 6-5 on sudden death penalties after playing out a goalless scoreline at full time in the feature game of the double-header.

After a fairly stale first half-hour in the feature, both Excelsior and St Catherine tempo in their attacking thrust and poked a few holes in each other's defence but failed to find the elusive goal.

The Mountain View Avenue-based Excelsior looked the more likely to score and came close in the 50th minute, but Tajhay Williams's stinging right-footed shot from just outside the 18-yard box was equally well saved by custodian Raheem Henry, flying full stretch to his left.

With the teams failing to separate themselves in full time it was straight to the dreaded penalties to decide the winners and Excelsior came away with bragging rights in this their third meeting of the season. In two previous meetings this season St Catherine secured a 2-0 win at home, but Excelsior returned the favour with a 2-1 win at their base.

During the shoot-out Excelsior's second kicker Jhevan Smith had his effort from the 12-yard spot saved by Henry, which left St Catherine sitting pretty at that point. However, Javaughn Bhalai of Excelsior also denied St Catherine's fourth kicker Marrovich Brown to set up a nail-biting finish.

In sudden death Rajaughn Joseph and Joseph Greenland converted for Excelsior and Isaac Dunklely replied for St Catherine, but Christopher Allwood, also of St Catherine, hit his effort over the crossbar, which sent the small batch of Excelsior supporters into a frenzy and the massive turnout of home supporters disappointed.

Winning coach Daniel Riley was overjoyed that all went his way in the penalty shoot-out.

“We had decided that if we get to another penalty shoot-out we are not going to lose, so we have been kicking penalties every training session, and so we worked on it and everyone that we put on the field are good penalty kickers, and the guy that unfortunately missed is one of our best kickers, but that is how it goes. But we have to give thanks for this victory,” Riley told journalists in a post-game interview.

“So hats off to the guys; they stuck it out and got to penalty, and we knew once it got there we were going to win the game, so it is just one of those games,” he added.

For Anthony Patrick of St Catherine, it was déjà vu as he revealed that the two players who missed from the spot were also guilty of not converting from their previous training session.

“It could have gone either way, it was a very tough game and not a lot of chances were created but we eventually got to the penalties and we came out on the losing end. This is the first time that we are losing in a penalty shoot-out since I have been here in three years and when you look back on it, it was those two players who missed today (yesterday), missed in the training session yesterday (Thursday), so that is just how it goes,” Patrick shared.

Earlier, Jordane Cameron (15th) and Kemar Reid (26th) gave Hydel a comfortable two-goal cushion at the half-time break before Ewan Hamilton (90th+3) got the other in time added. They could have, however, won by a wider margin as they dominated proceedings right throughout.

The final is scheduled for next week Thursday.

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