Waramadong’s Lyndell Joseph (with ball) is being monitored by Whazir Bascombe (left) as he is pursued by Ash Education’s Jason Johashen (#9) and another opposing player (right), during their enthralling semifinal matchup. (Photos by Sonell Nelson)

Ash Education and Wismar/Christianburg to battle in tonight’s final

… Ash shock Waramadong

FOR the second time in 2013 and third time in two years, Waramadong Secondary School out of Region Seven have lost an important football match at the Police Sports Club ground, Eve Leary, following their shocking 2-1 semifinal defeat at the hands of Ash Education Institute in their Kashif and Shanghai/Chico Elite Next Generation tournament last Monday night.

I got this, guys! A Wismar/Christianburg Secondary player about to clear the ball, even as a St George’s  player rushes in to prevent same from happening. (Photo by Sonell Nelson)
I got this, guys! A Wismar/Christianburg Secondary player about to clear the ball, even as a St George’s player rushes in to prevent same from happening. (Photo by Sonell Nelson)

Prior to Waramadong suffering their loss, reigning two-time Digicel nationwide football school champions Wismar/Christianburg Secondary enjoyed their third success at the said venue, following their 2-1 victory over a game St George’s Secondary lineup and will meet Ash Education in the final at the Georgetown Football Club tonight.
The day’s action was witnessed by directors of the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation, Kashif Muhammad and Aubrey ‘Shanghai’ Major, former president of the Guyana Football Federation Colin Klass and head of the Guyana Sports Development Foundation, Colin Baker, along with special invitees.
The feature encounter started scrappily, with players from both teams trying to adjust to the slippery conditions underfoot, while custodians Gerald Isaacs for Waramadong and Selwin Jack of Ash Education did overtime work.
However, when Waramadong’s key player and the 2013 Digicel Most Valuable Player Whazir Bascombe was fouled at the top of the box in the 21st minute, a well directed free-kick from Myles Albert pierced the grasp of Jack to give the 2012 and 2013 Digicel runners-up the lead.
It was short-lived, though, as Akeemo Watts nullified that goal with a wonderful goal of his own from the top of the box, beating Isaacs to his left in the 25th minute. Four minutes later, Brian Thom handed the team from the Ancient County the go-ahead goal, when he beat Isaacs high to his right.
The celebration from his teammates on and off the field of play, along with the hundreds of fans who made the journey to show their support to the black and white-clad Ash Education lineup, was a strong testimony of the importance of the win.
Being down and not known for giving up despite the circumstances, Waramadong fought tooth and nail with their opponents in search of the equaliser, with their hero for this tournament Lyndel Joseph, Bascombe, Albert and Leandro Francis, desperately going in search of the equalising goal.
The sturdy efforts of Kevin Layne, Dawit Watts, Atlin Browne, Jason Johashen and Keeron Arthur, kept the Region 7-based team from making any impact, while Jack chipped in with some brilliant saves during the first half.
The second half commenced in similar fashion as the first half ended, with Waramadong looking for the equaliser, while Ash Education did all within their power to deny them, with Jack being forced to effect a save from an Albert shot that was taken at the top of the box in the 49th minute.
At the other end of the field, Isaacs was forced to thwart an attack from Browne, whose overlapping work alongside Ozese Halley and Watts was intended to give Ash Education a two-goal advantage throughout the second half.
In the dying stages of the contest, Jack proved his worth with back-to-back saves from within the box to deny Bascombe and Waramadong the equaliser, even as his team held on for the upset win.
In the opening encounter, a Shane Luckie goal in the 6th minute, which beat a bewildered-looking Royston Dublin between the uprights for St George’s, handed Wismar/Christianburg the lead which was negated two minutes later with a gem from Robby McCloggan.
Orin Moore, known more for his custodial duties, sent a well weighted pass from a free kick taken midway inside Wismar’s half to McCloggan, who took the ball with ease, turned and fired off the ripper which had goal written all over it, even before the ball was nestled in the back of the net.
As both teams went about their business in search of the go- ahead goal, the halftime whistle sounded with the scoreline reading 2-1 and on the resumption of play, great defensive work from St George’s Quincy Lawrence denied Luckie, Kurd Johnson and skipper Anthony Layne.
At the other end of the field, a well directed shot from Layne was parried by Dublin for a corner, while a Johnson shot was taken out of the air inside his six-yard box by Dublin, with an unmarked Luckie standing idly by on the last post, if he had missed or fumbled that move.
As the battle for ascendancy continued, the defence of both teams worked overtime to keep the scores level until the 79th minute of play when Duquan Hercules used the low lights to his advantage and beat Dublin with a well directed free kick taken from midway inside St George’s half.
It was evident that the goal had its effect, for even though the Georgetown-based school who finished fourth in this year’s Digicel nationwide tournament fought to gain a second equaliser of the contest, it was without vigour or purpose.
Tonight’s final which kicks off at 20:00hrs, can be seen as a repeat of this year’s Digicel Inter-secondary School Regional championships where the present national school champions Wismar/Christianburg Secondary came out on top, before going on to repeat as champions with their win over Waramadong.
This fixture will be preceded by the third place playoff between St George’s and Waramadong at 18:00hrs and the overall winner of the tournament will pocket a record G$1.2M with 75% going towards a project identified by the school, along with the Championship trophy and 25 replicas.
The second-, third- and fourth-placed finishers will receive $750 000, $500 000 and $250 000 respectively, with 75% going towards a project as well, while the second- and third-placed teams will be presented with silver and bronze medallions and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) one laptop, a pair of ‘Golden Boots’ and a stint with a Trinidad and Tobago pro-team.

(By Calvin Roberts)