Red hot soccer

Top Bay Settlers’ victory was built on solid defence, exemplified here by Kent Hall’s (left) strong tackle.

Firehouse stormed into the semi-finals of the Lime Pelican Football Challenge with a dominant display, drubbing Red Tridents 4-1 at Kensington Oval last night.

In the other quarter-final game played, Top Bay Settlers edged 360 Connection 1-0 in an ugly affair to also gain their semi-final berth.

But it was the nightcap encounter that provided the most excitement of the double- header as Firehouse put on a clinic for a hapless Red Tridents team that seemed not to appreciate that potential winners of the tournament have 100 000 reasons to play at their optimum.

Admittedly the conditions were wet, as a result of early afternoon rain and subsequent evening showers that affected the first game. But Firehouse were playing on the same field and turned on the style in such an emphatic manner that the match was basically done and dusted after 45 minutes.

In the eighth minute a corner-kick found Timothy Waldron on the corner of the 18-yard box and his moderate effort at goal was almost criminally allowed across the line by Red Tridents’ custodian Corey Bridgeman. The conditions might have been wet but it was poor goal-keeping.

Within seconds of that opening goal Red Tridents’ Riviere Williams should have equalised but his accurate header was excellently palmed over the bars by Firehouse’s goalie Shaheika Duke.

Firehouse continued to dominate the play which was mainly directed down the flanks because of the muddy, grassless central area of the mid-field. Then in the 13th minute a piece of brilliance from Paul Soup Lovell produced the goal of the night, though helped by national defenders Romell Burgess and Johnathan Straker’s apparent disappearance into Wonderland.

Barbados’ former mid-field general Norman Forde played an excellent ball through to Lovell who deftly controlled it and as Bridgeman came off his line he drilled a right-foot volley into the back of the goal from about six yards. But before that shot, Lovell had waltzed past the two seasoned centre-backs as though they were wearing Firehouse jerseys. That was Lovell’s sixth goal of the competition.

Jason Blackman should have made it 3-0 almost immediately after Lovell’s strike but with the goal bars at his mercy and Bridgeman woefully out of position, Blackman kicked the ball wildly over the bars from about 12 yards.

Then in the 43rd minute Firehouse would score again. By this time such was the overwhelming dominance of Firehouse that one virtually expected them to score with every touch. Lovell played in another through ball that found an onrushing Blackman with the defenders again seemingly in pajamas somewhere in Sleepsville. The result was that a basically beaten Bridgeman fouled Blackman in the area and conceded a penalty. Lovell duly stepped up to the charity spot and scored his seventh goal of the tournament. And just when Red Tridents’ fans thought their team would go into the break, regroup and return to mount an assault on the three-goal deficit, a fourth goal was conceded. Forde, whose speed might have waned over the years but whose tactical awareness and vision have remained as sharp as ever, played another ball through to Ricky Barnes in the 45th minute and the former national blasted a powerful strike out of the reach of Bridgeman and into the back of the nets.

After their first-half display many in the crowd perhaps expected a deluge of goals but they never came as Firehouse, though continuing to dominate the game, lacked the precision they had shown in front of goal earlier in the night.

There were opportunities to score but they all want a begging. Conversely, Red Tridents failed to take advantage of the ease in Firehouse’s momentum and seemed rather flat, most exemplified by a number of errant passes.

Red Tridents did salvage some pride in the 70th minute when substitute Ramon Greaves took advantage of some slack defence by Firehouse and spoilt Duke’s clean sheet.Earlier, the muddy conditions and a situation where both teams often played the ball through the middle rather than utilise the flanks, led to an unattractive match-up marked by some solid defending.

Top Bay Settlers’ Ricardo Morris and Tito Beckles were outstanding in the job they did in neutralising the threat of 360 Connection’s Kyle Gibson and Dwayne Stanford who they simply stifled and marked out of the game.

The game always seemed destined to be determined by one goal and in the 49th minute national player Ramuel Millar got the goal that saw his team into the semi-finals.On Sunday Top Bay Settlers will come up against Akademiks in the first semi-final, while Firehouse take on T.S Strikers.

Akademiks’ Arantes Lawrence was adjudged player-of-the- week for his scintillating display against Combined All Stars in Sunday fortnight’s other quarter-final game. (WG)

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