Usually, it’s “Empire Strike Back” but in the case of Cool & Smooth Empire playing in the ABFA premier division it’s a different catch phrase. Yes, former 14-time champions Empire was sent packing to the first division after losing two-nil to Lime Old Road at the ARG Yesterday. Both teams came into the game needing to win.
For Empire they needed to save a disappointing season while Old Road needed to cut into the four point deficit en route to its first title. Well, Old Road won and now with one point needed for a championship it seems like smooth sailing for the men from South.
Empire tried but to no avail. Old Road, like they did against Special Security Services All Saints United last week came out nervous giving up a few early chances to Empire. But obviously aware of their woes Empire was unable to capitalize on its chances before Old Road got into stride led by the league’s chief marksman Stephan “Tommy” Smith. With 13 goals coming into the encounter, Smith added two to his tally to increase his lead on Tamarley “Ziggy” Thomas by five. Smith’s two strikes were top class. His first, he literally beat keeper Kendel Honere to a ball pass across the goal by Tash Harris from the left flank and the keeper and Smith reached for. Smith was quicker. Before Honere could snatch the ball out of the air Smith, with a flick of the right foot slipped the ball pass him and into the back of the net. His second was even better, this time on a solo run. Smith took a ball from the left flank inside the 18 and with three defenders hounding him was able to get the shot off as he moved to the right and fired to his left past Honere. It was a beauty to watch. Three times Smith aimed before pulling the trigger on hid third attempt.
Old Road should have had at least one more when Tiran Williams struck the right upright from just inside the half line.
So Empire is on its way to the first division along with Pigotts Bullets, loser of game two, beaten 2-0 by La Bussola Willikies. A late flurry by two of the league’s most promising young players, Akeem Weekes and Novel Francis gave Willikies the win. In a game that seemed destined for a draw Willikies pulled out all the stops in the dying stages. They needed desperately to win to move away from the relegation zone and did just that with the three points. Willikies passed Bassa on the points standing in hopes of maintaining its premier spot without going into a playoff with the eighth team from the first division. Weekes got the opening goal with ten minutes to go, a lob over the head of keeper Prince Walter following an error by Luchie Cyriellin who sent a weak header towards his keeper. Weekes intercepted and took full advantage of the gift.
In extra time, Francis ran through the Bullets defence and fired at Walter. The ball hit the turf in front of the keeper before bouncing over his head and into the back of the net much to the chagrin of Walter and Bullets. So, in one day, Empire and Bullets are demoted with a couple of weeks left in the competition.