If Asot’s Arcade Parham fail to defends its premier division title, it may be due to the 3-1 defeat they suffered against Sugar Ridge Sap in the feature game of the double header at the ARG on Saturday.
Sap was coming off what had to be an extremely demoralizing loss to Willikies a week ago while Parham had taken apart Champion Footwear Hoppers on a seven-game unbeaten streak.
Boith teams seemed to be headed in opposite directions, Parham on the up, Sap on the way down or perhaps out of the premiership.
But Saturday was a complete different story for these two championship teams.
Years ago Peter “Big Pete” Byers led Sap to two championships and last year he was key to Parham’s successful championship run.
Now Byers is back at Sap a team struggling to win a game in the premiership.
Last week Sap and Byers left the ARG in humiliation after they went down 3-0 to upstarts Willikies, who continued its positive role with a 1-1 draw with Hoppers in the first game on Saturday.
Parham’s high powered offence was expected to ‘burry’ Byers and Sap who incidentally lost head coach Charles “Charlie” Weston and his assistant Karl Casey after the loss to Willikies.
If Sap had any reservations about the loss of its coaches, it did not show against Parham.
New head coach, Mitch Williams had Sap ready and prepared for the challenge at hand and Parham felt the power of Byers and a well oiled Sap team.
From the start Sap took control and by the end of the game Parham was left ‘licking wounds’ and possible end to their title defence.
Midfielder Odel Murray who took a month off from the team was back a week ago with Byers and that combination paid dividends with Murray in control in the middle and Byers causing damage up front.
It was Murray who gave Sap the lead in the 35 minute and not Byers, held scoreless for two consecutive weeks.
Murray picked up a loose ball about 25 yards out on the right and fired low and hard past Keita Decastro.
After that Byers took over and while he did not score he became the assist man, helping on the other two goals for Sap.
Fifteen minutes after intermission Byers found an open Rackley “Leech” Thomas inside the six and Thomas polished off the pass with a shot past Decastro.
On the stroke of regulation, Byers again picked out Dashawn Samuel on a pass from the right flank and Samuel headed past Decastro for Sap’s third goal.
Sap improved to 14 points tied with Willikies who gained one point from Hoppers.
Willikies really should have gotten maximum points but they blew a number of easy opportunities including missing a penalty in the first minute of play.
George “Sowa” Dublin was back from a game suspension and Hoppers welcomed the services of Luke Blakely a central defence.
The boost to Hoppers’ defence did not seem to bother Willikies who came out firing from the start.
On Willikies first offensive drive Dublin handled a ball in the area and referee Anthony Govia awarded a penalty.
The usual surefooted Edlawn “Judgment” O’Garro hit the left upright and bounced harmlessly back into play as Hoopers averted the danger of going down a goal.
But Hoppers appeared destined to give the game away.
Two minutes after the penalty keeper Omarie “Spence” Joseph and Blakely got confused on a play in the box which resulted in a turnover in the six.
An opportunistic Akeem Weeks, hero of last week’s win hit into an open net.
Willikies seemed unable to shake off the effects of the missed chances and with Hoppers on constant attack succumbed twenty minutes from time.
Tamarley “Ziggy” Thomas found the equalizer and Hoppers got the point to take the team’s tally to 12 points.