This coming Sunday night the Williams Equipment Preseason Cup will be hoisted aloft for the first time ever as the inaugural tournament is down its last two teams. The Empire Club ground in Bank Hall, is set to be the backdrop for the final, which includes two Premier League stalwarts in Brittons Hill United and many-time champions Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme. They will be going head-to-head for the $4000 top prize. Coming out of last weekend's second leg of the semifinals, both sides booked their berths in contrasting fashions after making their own ways through the preliminary rounds of tournament.
The BDF Sports Programme will go into this game as favourites having been doing very well in the Premier League in the last few years, and up against a Brittons Hill side which have been fighting the relegation drop for the past three seasons.
The BDFSP last won the Premier League title back in 2015 which was their third consecutive championship at that level. Coming into the competition in Zone 3, the Sports Programme topped their group without dropping a single game. Their opening game at Bayville saw them drawing level with an at-home Notre Dame with Shaquille Boyce putting the soldiers up early on. However, the lead would be short-lived as Aaron Leacock knocked home the equaliser just minutes after.
They moved to the top of the zone after their second game when they came up against Home Improvement Hardware Compton at Bridgefield. Shane Codrington put the BDF in control before Marlon Headley helped the Waterford-based side find the equaliser. BDFSP’s Akeem Hill also saw red in this game but an Omani Leacock converted a penalty secured the 2-1 win for the BDFSP.
The soldiers then followed Ellerton into the semi-finals with a 3-0 win at Friendship. Leacock againt was on the score card with a brace. Jelani Keizer got his first goal of the season that night.
Their opponents in the semifinals were Ellerton and the Sports Programme drew first blood with a 2-1 win. Damion Thorington and Leacock scored a goal a piece. However. Zinio Harris pulled one back with one of the best-looking goals of the season. In the second round semi-final game an own-goal gave the soldiers just what they needed to advance to the final.
Brittons Hill have been steadily improving during the competition. Credit must be given to their imported players for adding that additional impetus. They were forced to face Abrahams United Silver Sands three times in the tournament as both qualified out of Zone 1. The Valery-based boys got off to a hot start this season with a 9-1 win over an out-of-sorts Rendezvous at Friendship. With Rendezvous' lone consolation coming from Nicholas Bynoe, goals from Henderson Richards (2), Akiel Smith, Romario Small, Terrance Coppin (2), Dwayne Stanford and Travis Coppin (2) saw the team to nine.
Brittons Hill's second game saw them coming up against Silver Sands at Orange Hill and the pair broke even to end up on the same points. Silver Sands scored first through Mario Birkett before Donte McClean and Sylvester Small all had goals. Trailing 2-0 early in the second half, Brittons got back up to scratch with goals from Danté Greenidge, Elsid Miggins and Henderson Richards.
Brittons Hill ended up at the top of the zone as they rounded out the prelims with a 2-1 win over the University of the West Indies Blackbirds at Market Hill. Travis Coppin and Denzil Fordyce set Brittons Hill up but Mario Harte had a consolation to pull one back for UWI.
In the semis, Brittons put themselves in prime position to go all the way beating Silver Sands 4-1. Richards had two goal and Fordyce chipped in one as well while the fourth came from Rohan Hall. Silver Sands' loan goal came from Shad King. In the second leg, a 2-2 draw could not save Silver Sands from exiting. Their goals were both compliments of Troy Johnson, while Brittons Hill got theirs from Fordyce and Hall.
The final is slated to kick off at 8:30 pm and we expect a keenly contested match from both teams. This will be preceded by the third-place playoff between Silver Sands and Ellerton at 6:00 PM. Admission to the venue is free.