The line up of the CML Cup semifinals was decided last weekend with Fidel Wanderers, Harry’s, CML Claymores and Luca Zaino all progressing in the Sunday League knockout competition.
Cup holders Fidel Wanderers held a 4-0 advantage from the first leg in their tie with Fidel Old Boys and were favorites to progress in the tie when the two teams reconvened for the second leg at Ed Bush Sports Center in West Bay. The Wanderers enjoyed the better possession and, out of the two goalkeepers, it was Kevin Poole, the Old Boys number one, who was kept the busier with a number of saves – yet the Wanderers were also wasteful in front of goal with a series of sloppy finishes.
The only goal of the game arrived at 65 minutes when Wanderers’ striker Kiegel Atkinson spun his marker and fired a low shot under the diving Poole to gift himself an ideal present on his birthday and earn his side a 1-0 win on the day and make it 5-0 on aggregate.
Harry’s FC were looking to progress into the next round in their tie with Maples Revolution and held a comprehensive 5-0 lead from the first leg. It was the team in green that once again had the better day after registering another comfortable win to march into the semifinals with a 10-2 aggregate win. It was against the run of play that Harry’s took the lead on 19 minutes when striker Matt Coleing scored from close range for the only goal of the first-half.
On the hour mark, the goals started to fly in. First, Maples equalized from the penalty spot through James Plowright but the parity didn’t last long. Harry’s needed only a minute to retake the lead – through Coleing – and they then extended their advantage by scoring two more in the space of four minutes, making it 4-1 with goals from Dan Stuber and Jeff Thronton to kill the match.
There were still two further goals to be scored and they arrived when Coleing claimed his hat-trick and Scotsman Fran Donoghue scored in the last minute for Maples to finish the game at 5-2 to set up a semifinal against the Wanderers.
At the Annex (T.E. McField Sports Center) in George Town, CML Claymores and Boca Juniors served up a cracking cup tie with the match in the balance right up until the last minute. Holding a 3-1 advantage from the first leg, Boca were favorites to claim a semis berth but CML, in the tournament they put their name to, had other ideas by racing to a 2-0 lead in the first-half to level the aggregate scores at 3-3 after strikes from James Cooper and Stefan Kormos in a two-minute spell.
With the tie very much alive, Boca seized the initiative back when Vince Kelly fired home on 52 minutes to retake an aggregate lead. Then, as the match entered its last 15 minutes and Boca still in the driving seat, CML stunned their opponents when Steve Lovell snatched a goal to level the tie once again at 4-4 on aggregate and, with no extra time being played in the competition, the match appeared destined for penalty kicks.
The game would be settled quite dramatically in regulation time when, in the final minute, a stunning strike from the edge of the box by CML’s Steve Lovell fired his side into the semis with a 4-1 win, 5-4 on aggregate. With yellow cards being liberally dished out, it was no surprise that there was at least one red card issued when CML’s defender Paul Valenti picked up his second caution and was sent off right at the game’s end.
The final game in the competition had an equally dramatic finish with the tie progressing all the way to penalty kicks to separate the teams – and ultimately it was Luca Zaino who bagged the last semifinal spot. Going into the second leg, Luca held the upper hand over Shellaz with a 2-1 lead, but Shellaz won the match with a similar score line to level the aggregate scores at 3-3.
All the goals arrived in the first half and Shellaz got off to a fantastic start by scoring as early as the fourth minute through Gavin Reynolds and then pulled ahead in the tie when Reynolds struck his double on the half-hour mark. But crucially, Luca scored just two minutes later through midfielder Kiril Deliivanov to level the aggregate scores once again. Despite several near misses, there were no further goals in the second half to set up the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
The very first kick was a disaster for Kemar Boothe of Shellaz, who failed to find the back of the net and with all others kicks being successful, it was left to Massimo Di Campli to slot home CML’s fifth and winning spot kick to send his teammates wild with ecstasy and set a semis date with the Claymores.
The semifinal ties, which are played over two legs, are scheduled for March 9 and April 13.