FOOTBALL fans on the east coast of the island had a lot to smile about this past weekend as four eastern teams qualified for the next round of competition in the 17th edition of the Blackheart Production/Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc. Knockout Tournament that kicked off at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds in Vieux Fort.
On Sunday 15th September former champions Mabouya Valley and South Castries played to a goalless draw. However, in the ensuing penalty shootout which was thrilled with suspense, Mabouya Valley went ahead 10 – 9 to secure their place in the next round after the South Castries custodian kicked wide to give Mabouya Valley the victory.
The boys from the Valley would have themselves to blame only if they were to lose the encounter after squandering numerous scoring opportunities at either end of the pitch. One must commend South Castries goalkeeper, No.01 Ronic James for saving face for his team between the uprights throughout regulation time; unfortunately he came up short in the penalty shootout.
All eyes were on the pitch for the second encounter between Big Eight champions Gros Islet and former Blackheart champions Micoud and the game lived up to all the hype and excitement from the evening draw which took place last week at the Marina Haven Hotel. Gros Islet who missed out on two of their prolific goal scorers Nicholas Lawrence (injury) and Troy Greenidge (not on the roster) was made to pay dearly at the end.
At conclusion, it was Micoud who stunned the Big 8 champions 2 – 1 and in the process kicked them out of championship contention.
Micoud nosed ahead with a goal by Andre Joseph in the 30th minute and from there on it was clear that the eastern team meant business on the night in front of their supporters. Gros Islet maintained their composure for the remainder of the half, with a level of urgency in search of the equalizer as the half ended 1 – 0.
On the resumption the crowd had grown sufficiently as Micoud continued from where they left off. Midway through the second half Nathan Allain put them further ahead in the 88th minute.
Tev Lawrence No.8 pulled one back for Gros Islet to reduce the deficit 2 – 1 in the 90+4 minutes of added time. By then Micoud fans had started to celebrate knowing that their team decked in florescent orange attire had advanced to the next stage of the tournament.
On day 1 (Saturday 14th), former champions Dennery defeated Mon Repos 2 – 0. National striker No. 9 Ridel Stanislaus put Dennery ahead in the 16th minute and as much as Mon Repos tried to equalized, the scoreline remained 1 – 0 in favour of Dennery.
On the resumption, No. 13 Vivan Terrence’s 65th minute goal sealed the initiative thus ensuring that Dennery booked their place in the next round of competition.
They have been dubbed the “West Coast Giants” in the past; Anse la Raye took on last year’s quarterfinalists Desruisseaux. Following a great showing in the Saint Lucia Football Association Inc. / National Lotteries Authority Island Cup where they marginally failed to qualify for the quarterfinals, Desruisseaux was looking to make amends this time around.
There were a few splashes of excitement in this encounter; however Anse la Raye suffered midway into the second half. Desruisseaux with the likes of No. 9 Chad Flavius, and No. 5 Brad Bideau in midfield made life difficult for their opponent as they played an attractive brand of football.
No. 7 Dwight Preudomme put Desruisseaux ahead in the 56th minute, which was sufficient to see them through to the next round with a hard fought but well deserved 1-0 victory.
Matches in the tournament continue on Wednesday 18th at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds; from 6.00 p.m. Central Castries plays Roseau Valley and Vieux Fort North takes on La Clery at 8.00 p.m. On Thursday 19th, from 6.00 p.m. at the same venue Marchand takes on Babonneau and Canaries plays Soufriere at 8.00 p.m.