BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 18, 2016–The CYDP Peace Cup semifinals yesterday at the MCC Grounds, trench and all, saw a huge turnout of football fans, who enjoyed an evening of exciting and intense football action. The atmosphere was reminiscent of the old days when city fans were treated to football at the top level. While the quality of the game was not at PLB level, with elimination on the line, and a five thousand dollar prize for the finals winner, each semifinal had its moments of tension and thrills, with the fans often leaving their seats and bringing the Garden alive with their shouts of condemnation or celebration, depending on where the ball was, and whether their team was winning or losing.
In the opener, Uprising Stars and Kelly Street were nil-nil at the half; but about 10 minutes after the intermission, young Naim Wilson’s cross field pass found captain Francisco Briceno on the right side with a path to goal, and his shot found the back of the net for the 1-nil lead. Twenty minutes later, Kelly Street got the equalizer from Stephen “Breds” Baizar, whose high lob caught Uprising goalkeerper Elden “Bleaky” Linares going backwards, and the ball hit under the crossbar and into the net; 1-1 ball game. It had to go to overtime, and the winner came from a corner in the first period, as Harold Thompson’s header beat Stanley “Jordan” Reneau, in goal for Kelly Street, and it was Uprising Stars holding on for the 2-1 victory.
The nightcap between Tut Bay and Kraal Road was just as intense in the first half, when Tut Bay got an opportunity to take the lead at the 21st minute from the penalty spot, but captain Albert “Allie” Thurton’s shot went high over the goal. With the score nil-nil going into second half, the tide turned suddenly in favor of Kraal Road when, just a minute after resumption of play, their midfielder Jason “Paxon” Young unleashed a sinking left foot blast from 40 yards out that hit under the cross bar in the left corner, catching Tut Bay’s goalie Francis Lemott completely by surprise; 1-nil, Kraal Road in front. Tut Bay had hardly recovered from the shock of Paxon’s blast, when Kraal Road striker Charles Canton’s cross to the left side found teammate Keenan Gillett on a break-away, and Keenan slammed it home to give his team a commanding 2-nil lead at the 51st minute. But Tut Bay was not giving up so easily, and with lots of time on the game clock, midfielder Thomas Castro’s header off a corner from the right side was well placed, beating Kraal Road keeper Elias Hercules, and cutting the lead to 2-1 at the 76th minute. The clock was winding down, and Tut Bay still hoping for an equalizer and becoming more adventurous in attack, when the tournament’s leading goleador, Kraal Road’s Charles Canton, who was closely marked all game long, finally saw some breathing space, and within 3 minutes he exploded for 2 goals, at the 84th and 87th minute, and the nail was in Tut Bay’s coffin. 4-1 was the final score.
The stage is now set for the 3rd place and championship games this Sunday.