Spectators at the game between Red Bay and Savannah 19 March were treated to a footballing spectacle not seen by many this season.
It was a true advertisement for the Primary League with spectacular goals, hard tackles, thunderous shots and wonderful saves – more than enough to keep fans on the edge of the sidelines.
Following an entertaining ‘B’ game, which saw Red Bay dominate Savannah 5-0 with Jorel Bellafonte bagging four and little Brandon ‘Red’ Ebanks smashing his first of the season, the bigger boys took to the field to do battle.
Savannah’s offensive capabilities were well documented from last season, as the coaches had been fortunate in welcoming back their star players since the hurricane. Rumour around the fields was that Savannah packed a mean attacking punch with front-runners Jay Ebanks, Justin Gregory and Shervin Zelaya, well capable of opening any defensive stronghold.
Aware of their opponents’ reputation, Red Bay needed only to be disciplined in their defensive responsibilities and play their regular attacking game. The contest began at breakneck speed as both teams quickly found their rhythm. Red Bay, not to be done offensively, possessed more than a potent attack capable of changing a game with the blink of an eye. It was Savannah that nearly got on the board first as they crashed a shot against Red Bay’s crossbar with goalkeeper Cottrell Ellis rooted to the ground. Again and again Savannah streamed forward but found Red Bay’s Tacita Berry, Matthew Forrest and Avandre up to the challenge. Red Bay’s attackers found Savannah’s defence, marshalled by the towering Mauricio Terry, to be difficult to breakdown.
It was Red Bay that opened the scoring deep into the first half. Nicholas Ebanks floated in a high looping ball from a free-kick that found its way over the head of the indecisive Savannah goalkeeper and into the back of the net. 1-0 up and all to play for, the boys in maroon powered forward in search of number two, but unfortunately, Brandyn Murray limped off with an ankle injury which would end his day.
Savannah drove forward in search of an equalizer but was again unlucky as it found Cottrell Ellis and his goal hard to get by. Again Red Bay’s crossbar saved the day as Savannah’s Jay Ebanks smashed his shot against the bar and Justin Gregory’s follow-up found the underside of the same bar. What a let-off for Red Bay as the half time whistle sounded.
In losing the talented Brandyn Murray, Red Bay was forced to make a tactical change during half time. Nicholas Ebanks would move in front of his defence as the defensive midfielder and what an important decision this would prove to be.
As the second half resumed, Red Bay’s lacklustre play proved costly as Savannah levelled the score line as Red Bay’s defenders failed to clear a seemingly innocent cross which, Shervin Zelaya pounced on and blasted past a flailing Cottrell Ellis.
From here on, Red Bay’s Nicholas Ebanks from his new position took control of the game. He was instrumental in thwarting many Savannah attacks and at the same time, the centre of many of his teams’ advances. His tireless running up and down the field mirrored that of his team-mate in midfield, Nicholas Bush, who by his own standards was having an unusually quiet game.
Jorel Bellafonte and Marlon Mothersill were finding it very difficult to get by the tough-tackling Savannah defence, but following a trademark, weaving run, Jorel got his fifth and his team’s second goal of the day as he squeezed the ball between the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper and the near post.
Growing in confidence, the Red Bayers dug deep to neutralize their opponents’ dangerous playmakers.
Flashes of brilliance from Justin Gregory and Jay Ebanks were all too apparent as Justin Gregory flashed a shot which Red Bay’s Cottrell Ellis did well to get a glove to and parry safely over his bar.
The inspired Nicholas Ebanks could do no wrong and he ended Savannah’s hopes by netting his team’s third.
Picking up a loose ball he powered down the left, cut in, beat two defenders with some great moves before letting fly a bullet of a shot which screamed into the far corner of Savannah’s net. ‘Icing on the cake’ for the towering midfielder as Nicholas put in a brilliant performance, which certainly earned him man of the match honours.
Savannah continued on but found Nicholas Ebanks and his defensive friends on top of their game.
Disappointed that the crossbar had been unforgiving this week and certainly the one thing that had separated the two teams’ during the first half, the boys from Savannah tried their luck from further out as they took aim and fired shot after shot.
Alas, it was not to be for the always energetic and entertaining Savannah team. By the time the final whistle sounded, the contest had long been decided as Red Bay triumphed 3-1.
The awesome display of young talent was truly inspiring as both teams put on a great show.
Hail to the triumphant maroon wave from Red Bay, and hail to the boys from Savannah who played a magnificent game. Fans, parents and football enthusiasts alike were thoroughly entertained. Onto the next game.