Wales Co-captains Hadan Holligan (left) and Jabar Greene (right) flank BFA President Randy Harris (centre) while Goalkeeper Omari Eastmond joins in on the celebration after they were presented with the Premier League Championship trophy.

Wales take two straight

In what was easily one of the most highly-anticipated match-ups for the year, Weymouth Wales made good on their promise to successfully defend their 2017 championship, picking up a second straight title when the curtain came down on the 2018 Barbados Premier League.

Coming up against many-time winners, Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme in the championship play-off on Sunday night, the Carrington Village-based team snuck two goals past the soldiers, who could only reply with one at the Wildey Turf.

Wales were the ones to draw first blood in the match-up as a tackle on an advancing Hadan Holligan by BDF custodian Kishmar Primus saw referee Gillian Martindale point to the penalty spot. With prolific goal-scorer Romario Harewood stepping up to the ball, he made no mistakes as he easily pushed to Primus’ left in the 22nd minute.

Less than 10 minutes after, the soldiers were able to level things out after Raheim Sargeant sent a ball forward on the left to Omani Leacock. After breaching the box, Leacock had some messy dribbles before being dispossessed but the ball dropped to national team captain Rashad Jules who sent a left-booted shot along the ground from the edge of the 18. A diving Omari Eastmond could only watch on as the ball went to the far post to ricochet and roll into the top of the net in the 31st minute.

Wales, who have come through the season unbeaten, were not about to start now and in the 38th, had the scaled tipped in their favour once again. With Rashida Williams building a play from the back along the right flank, he dished off the ball to Harewood who sent a long cross to the middle of the penalty box to meet Kemar Headley. With one bounce between Harewood’s pass and the Headley’s head, he put the ball in the back of the nets to give Wales the go-ahead.

Despite being docked down to 10 men after Rashad Smith was issued a straight-red in the 79thminute, the Sports Programme still managed to keep Wales on their toes. With the minutes dropping off the clock, the legendary fitness of the soldiers saw them running play after play as they kept the pressure on their opponents. However, nothing would come of it and Wales managed to hold out for the win and the 2018 title.

Wales Coach David Ward said that it was good to win again and he credited the success to the dynamics of the team. “It’s nice! Good work from the entire management team. As I said last year, it is like a family and we are still keeping it that way.”

Noting that a lot of hard work would have gone into their performance this season, Ward added that their journey was not without hindrances.

“We always have challenges. Sometimes we have Agrofest taking up the field. We don’t have any place to train. We have to come out early and sometimes go on the Police field. And our field is very poor. It needs a work-over and that is what we are looking at.”

With the Sport Programme being the only full-time footballers on the island, Ward said that he has a system that works for his team. “We constantly work on the mental aspect of the game and definitely, the burpees work. We might not be professional, but we have that professionalism within our minds.” he said.

Earlier in the night, the University of the West Indies Blackbirds got the better of Paradise FC in the third place play-off. With Zico Phillips opening the account for Paradise in the 13th minute, the Blackbirds came back in the second half, compliments a goal from Jamario Worrell in the 66th.

UWI took the lead in the 73rd minute when Damien Small beat national keeper Jason Boxill, however, Chai Lloyd ensured that his team would not be giving it up easily as he brought Paradise level again in the 91st. With the prospect of extra time looming, Worrell cancelled that call as he put the ball in the back of the nets in the 92nd minute to seal the deal.

The evening’s first game saw Clayton’s Kola Tonic Notre Dame saving themselves a place in the Premier League after beating Home Improvement Hardware Compton in their second relegation play-off match. Winning the first outing 5-0, the Dames sent down Compton in miserable fashion as the score stood at 10-1 when the final whistle was blown.

Led by a hat-trick from young Thierry Gale (24th, 54th, 58th), braces from Tramaine Cobham (66th, 69th) and Nathan Skeete (34th, 41st) put the Dames in good stead. Zeco Edmee (27th) and Xavier Clarke (32nd) also had goals while and unlucky own goal from Tito Grazette in the 91st minute brought the tally up to ten.

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