Sunday’s Premier Division matches provided a goal-fest at Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG).
Defending champions Asot’s Arcade Parham won their first game of the 2015/2016 season with an emphatic 6-1 thumping of Five Islands. Hoppers, meanwhile, rocked Empire 4-1 in the feature game dubbed the Cool and Smooth Cup. In what was billed a Round South derby, Sap and Old Road drew 2-2.
Concerning the defending champions, it was an amazing turn of events, as Parham, losers in the first two encounters against Sap and Empire, trailed by the 35th minute against Five Islands.
Corey Francis scored a spectacular bicycle shot after the Parham defence failed to clear a ball from inside the area.
It seemed like Parham was set for another defeat, but Tevaughn “Peter Redz” Harriette demonstrated why he is the reigning golden boot recipient.
Down a goal and with evident doubt creeping into the minds of the Parham fans, the young striker went to work. Harriette equalised from the penalty spot following an injudicious tackle in the area, which drew the whistle, one minute from intermission.
Parham then took the lead six minutes after the break.
Pressured by Parham’s confident attack, Damian Francis beat his own keeper for an own goal.
With the lead, Harriette went to work producing two more goals to record the league’s second hat-trick in the early season.
Parham exploited the Five Islands left defensive area and attacked ferociously from that side, and Harriette scored.
His second conversion came when he received a ball from deep, which he simply lobbed over the head of the Five Islands keeper six minutes after the own goal.
Two minutes later Harriette completed his hat-trick when he got a ball from Ranjae Christian from the right flank, (Five Islands’ left defensive area) that he expertly tucked away.
He was not done yet.
In the 66th minute the young striker again received a pass from the right side, which he controlled, looked up and hit with pace into the back of the net.
Twenty minutes later and with the game already won, the youngster struck again. This time he was at the end of a string of passes that the “Boys from Brazil” put together that finished with Harriette finding the back of the net once again.
HOPPERS STOP EMPIRE
In the feature match, newly-promoted Empire, with bold predictions of a top-three finish, got a rude awakening from Hoppers in the Gray’s Green derby.
It was a disappointing result for Coach Steveroy “Demon” Anthony, who was banking on a secret weapon to unleash on Hoppers.
The only secret let out, however, was how vulnerable Empire’s defence is to a fast-paced attack and balls coming across the area from both flanks.
Two goals came from passes from the flanks, and a corner kick followed by a pass from Tamarley “Ziggy” Thomas.
The corner kick from the right found the head of Janiel Marquez and across the goal line in the eighth minute.
In the 38th minute, an own goal by Hakeem Joseph gave Hoppers a two-nil lead.
Ten minutes before intermission, Hoppers, again on attack, were rewarded when Thomas found Martel Hernandez inside the area and the pass resulted in the third goal.
Leading three-nil at the break, Hoppers added a fourth for good measure courtesy a Kareem Wilson header on a pass from the left flank by Thomas.
Substitute Azinho Solomon pulled a goal back for Empire with two minutes left in regulation.
ROUND SOUTH TIE
In the first, game Sap and Old Road finished deadlocked on 2-2 but perhaps the story of the day was Peter “Big Pete” Byers receiving a red card from referee Kerry Skepple.
All the goals came in the first half, with both teams taking the lead at one point during the match.
Okeem “Soda” Challenger gave Sap the lead in the 23rd minute with a dazzling spot kick before Kimoy Alexander pulled a goal back six minutes later.
Old Road then took the lead three minutes later when Alexander converted for the second time.
Challenger then produced another stunner from the spot – this time with a corner kick from right that eluded everyone and crossed the goal line.
Protests that the ball did not cross the line fell on deaf ears as the goal stood.
With the game equally poised and Byers, the then leading scorer hunting for more goals, Skepple gave him his marching orders.
He was sent off for violent conduct, a case Byers pleaded to no avail.
Both teams got chances to score but the game ended 2-2.
By Ian “Magic” Hughes