Daniels saves blushes for Town
Dandy Town goalkeeper Ajai Daniels made amends in the penalty shoot-out after a bizarre late error gifted BAA an equaliser in the PDL semi-finals last night as his team joined North Village in Monday’s final.
Town were leading 2-1 with only four minutes to go at Goose Gosling Field when Daniels challenged Josh Hartman to try to get the ball from him instead of picking it up on the right side of his penalty area. Hartman robbed him and squared the ball across goal where Quintonio Lema blasted into an open goal to send the game into extra time.
Town, who were holding on to their slim lead after a couple of important blocks by the BAA goalkeeper Sereiko Thomas kept the scoreline close, suddenly looked like imploding as Caldre Burgess was sent off a minute later for foul language.
And as Town prepared for the penalty kicks, Daniels got involved in a heated exchange with a team-mate before calm was restored and he went on to make a couple of penalty saves to help his team win 4-2 on spot-kicks and advance to the final, which takes place at Bernard Park.
All was forgiven between Daniels and his team-mates after he quickly went from villain to hero. For BAA, there will be no chance to avenge last year’s 4-0 defeat by Devonshire Cougars in the final.
“It is unfortunate to lose by penalties, of course, but we had a good innings, hung in there and the team showed up in good form,” said Michael Araujo, the BAA coach. “We were happy to get the draw and then go into penalties, obviously we got unlucky with the penalties.”
Town opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Tomeko Goater’s effort was blocked by the goalkeeper and Zaire Burchall followed up to score the rebound. Goalkeeper Thomas brilliantly kept out a long range shot from Amar Lewis that was heading into the top corner, before BAA equalised in the 33rd minute. Lema crossed into the box after a good run down the right side and Londan Roberts scored with a shot into the bottom corner.
Town went back in front in the 67th minute when Oneko Lowe controlled a pass on the right side of the box before scoring with a left-footed shot inside the near post. That goal looked like standing as the winner as the minutes ticked away, only for BAA, last year’s beaten finalists, to get a lifeline with the error by Daniels. Prior to the equaliser Thomas blocked shots from Goater and Lowe, who was a threat with his pace.
North Village defeated Cougars 4-1 in the opening match, after Lashun Dill gave them the lead after just two minutes. Cougars equalised in the 18th minute through a Chae Brangman penalty after a Village player was penalised for a shove.
Village made four substitutions at one time late in the first half and with his first touch Justin Bell scored from just inside the box after a high ball from a free kick was not cleared and Bell pounced. The Rams never let up after that and scored twice more in the 67th and 78th minutes to put the match out of Cougars’ reach. Enyche Zuill made it 3-1 when he scored from close range and Demetre Daniels closed out the scoring with a well-taken goal after running a ball into the area and steering the ball past the advancing goalkeeper Xyon Outerbridge-Smith.
“We just wanted to come here and play a good game of football and stick to the game plan,” Randy Spence, Village’s PDL coach, said. “Mentally it was a tough game for us, having just been beaten by the Cougars Premier Division team [in the Friendship semi-final], so we wanted to win.
“We showed commitment, had a lot of desire and were prepared to run. Cougars have a young, fast team and we were prepared to do the running and stay with them. Goals build confidence.”
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