Sports

Wadadah topple Faulkland to cop Western Confed Super League title

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Wadadah FC shocked favourites Faulkland FC 6-5 in sudden death penalties to win Sunday's Jamaica Football Federation Western Confederation/Charley's JB Rum Super League, after the teams had played out a 1-1 stalemate following regulation and extra time at Jarrett Park.

Wadadah FC's goalkeeper Devaughn Hawthorne made two big saves in the penalty shoot-out as the former Premier League champions held on for their fourth title.

Oshane Hunter gave the Daniel Ricketts-coached Wadadah FC the lead in the 71st minute, but Odaine Snow, who came on as a substitute in the 74th minute, equalised five minutes later.

Both teams fell at the semi-final stages last season and Faulkland FC, who won the mid-season title and topped the points tables, started as favourites after winning both legs of the semi-finals against Trelawny's Harmony FC.

Their only loss up to the final was to Wadadah FC, going down 0-1 in the second round, but Wadadah FC stumbled late in the season, losing their final game of the regular season to Harmony FC and only advanced on goal difference then lost the first leg of the semi-final to Reggae Youths, who had also beaten them in the third round.

A big 4-1 win in the return leg of the semi-finals reignited their chances as they became the third team to qualify for the JFF Confederation Play-offs, joining Dunbeholden FC of the South Central Confederation and Mount Pleasant of the Eastern Confederation.

Ricketts, who was winning his third Super League title as a coach, was under no delusion as to what his team had pulled off. “We were the underdogs, so I call it an upset,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

His game plan was simple. “We know they use the width of the field a lot and we tried to use our wing backs to nullify them so they don't have the space to work in and to cross, and at the end of the day it worked.”

Once it got to the shoot-out, Ricketts said he had confidence in his players. “Since the semis we started practising, and I was confident that we would be able to pull it off. Once they missed we would capitalise.”

Gregory Palmer, the Faulkland FC coach, said they were let down by selfishness. “We did not share the ball enough when we were in their 18-yard area; we failed to do that as everyone wanted the glory for themselves.”

He also told the Observer that a number of players complained of “tired legs” and did not want to take kicks in the shoot-out, and they had to use those who stepped up.

Both teams scored their first three kicks before the shoot-out took a dramatic turn; Hawthorne saved Kyle Anderson's effort to give Wadadah FC the advantage.

At 4-4, however, Tyshan Hill, easily one of the best and most consistent players on the field, hit the inside of the left post with his shot and watched agonisingly as the ball ran across the face of the goal and back out.

At 5-5 in sudden-death, Hawthorne came up big again, saving Courtney Allen's shot, then Andrae Thomas scored his shot to give Wadadah FC the title.

The penalty kicks were only necessary because both teams failed to capitalise on the few scoring chances they created in the 120 minutes of regulation and extra time.

Both teams missed early chances —Anderson dragging a shot wide of the Wadadah FC goal in the third minute, and in the fifth minute Obrien Robinson fired a shot just wide of the Faulkland FC goal.

Wadadah FC had two chances in the 44th minute — the first, a shot from the left flank was blocked by the defence and the other, a low scissors kick by Robinson, missed the far post by inches.

The second half was better, as both teams upped the tempo and it was Wadadah FC who opened the scoring when Hunter finished off a counter -attack with a low-diving header that left the Faulkland FC goalkeeper Robert Morrison cemented to his line as the ball flew into the goal.

The lead did not last long as Snow, who replaced Peter Campbell, was well- placed five minutes later to sweep a ball past Hawthorne into the far corner to tie up the scores.

Two good saves in extra time preserved the tie, Morrison denying Wadadah FC in the 103rd minute, while 10 minutes later Hawthorne blocked a shot from Jelani Nicholson, who was a late substitute.

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