End game

St. Stephen’s Raheem Holligan (in red) scored the goal to put his school into the quarter- finals.
St. Stephen’s Raheem Holligan (in red) scored the goal to put his school into the quarter- finals.

First there were 71, now its down to eight.

Today the quarter-finalists of the Bico-sponsored National Sports Council’s Primary Schools Football Tournament were decided with Arthur Smith, St. Stephen’s, Cuthbert Moore and West Terrace winning their games and joining earlier qualifiers St. Bartholomew’s, St. Gabriel’s, Wilkie Cumberbatch and Deacon’s Primary in the next round.

Arthur Smith Primary, striving to win their very first championship, sent an immediate warning to their fellow qualifiers with the most emphatic victory of the day when they thrashed St. John’s Primary 6-0 at Rices, St. Philip.

Niall Reid-Stephen has been at the centre of the St. Matthias, Christ Church school’s progress in the tournament and today the talented youngster took it up a notch and tormented St. John’s defenders with every touch of the ball. Those ‘touches’ led to a beaver-trick for Reid-Stephen and he might have scored more but for some saves, a few fortuitous, from St. John custodian Imani Blackman.

Arthur Smith also got goals from Christopher Newton-Harewood and Jabari Kydd.

But it was not only about good play on the offensive side, Arthur Smith’s defenders stymied the offensive forays of the likes of Tyrese Richards, Dario Clarke and Jayden Hoyte and limited their opportunities in front the goal. Arthur Smith will come up against 2010 champions West Terrace in their quarter-final clash.

West Terrace and Roland Edwards had an engaging battle at Rices this morning which ended in a 3-2 penalty kicks win for the St. James school after the two evenly matched teams were locked 1-1 after the whistle blew to end extra time. Khamal Cumberbatch netted for West Terrace while Ashkielan John scored for the St. Peter school.

Scoring the penalties for the winners were Renaldo Belgrave, Kadeem Grandison and Isaiah Norris. Scoring for Roland Edwards were Tanas Thorne and Jaylan Gilkes, while Ramon Toppin, Daniel Boyce and Darrell Johnson-Griffith missed their spot kicks.

At Gall Hill, St. John, the collective groans of George Lamming Primary supporters might have been heard on Bridge Road, St. Michael when with seconds to go in the game, Cuthbert Moore’s Kevin Wickham scored past George Lamming’s custodian Javon Fields for the 1-0 victory. It had been a close encounter throughout with most at the ground predicting a penalty-kicks shoot-out. Wickham ended that speculation.

Cuthbert Moore, who won the championship in 2011, will now play two-time champions St. Stephen’s Primary in the quarter-finals.

It was a similarly close affair in the battle between Wesley Hall and St. Stephen’s. There was little to choose between Wesley Hall, previous winners in 1989, and St. Stephen’s, winners in 1997 and 2003, with both having a few scoring opportunities on which they didn’t capitalise. It was almost predictable that one goal would decide the match-up and Raheem Holligan’s goal sank the King Street, St. Michael school’s hopes.

The other quarterfinal match-ups will see four-times champion (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012) St. Gabriel’s come up against two-times winners (2000, 2001) Wilkie Cumberbatch, while 1993 champions St. Bartholomew’s will take on Deacon’s Primary, who are yet to hold the winning trophy aloft.

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