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Lions, BDFSP and Empire in winner's row

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Scotty's Car Rentals St. Andrew Lions and the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme picked up some much-needed points when the out-of-zone fixtures continued in the Barbados Premier League. Playing at the Wildey Turf yesterday in the first full games of the year, both teams, along with Zone 2 leaders Empire Club, registered wins to see them capitalising on the cross-zone clashes.

The Christmas break did very little to break their momentum as the Lions were the first to record a win for the year. Taking their first win of the season in their last game of the year when they came up against Weymouth Wales, the Lion roared into the new year with a victory over Clayton's Kola Tonic Notre Dame.

With the Dames missing out on chances by Zeco Edmee in the17th and 19th minutes, it would be the St. Andrew side that opened the scoring in the 26th.

Gifted a free kick, Darico King put his right boot in the ball to see it over a four-man wall and just just under the crossbar over a leaping custodian to see his team into the break with the 1-0 lead. At the top of the second half, it would be bumped up to 2-0 as a horrible blunder by goalkeeper Jason Welch served up an easy goal from Bruno Da Silva in the 48th. 

Dwayne Mars would get his third goal this season when he got away on the left flank with a through ball from Janeico Baptiste. Running onto the pass, he put a left-booted scud into the far V that almost came through the other side of the net in the 69th minute.

However, that would be as far as the Dames would go but the Lions were not done roaring yet. In the 75th, Shamar Edwards would be in a foot-race with Ramario Savoury while an advancing Welch came out to shut down the play. With Welch running into his defender, all Edwards had to do was catch up to the ball and put a small touch on it to set it on its path to the net before going over the goal line, which he did before running over the line himself.

Game 2 saw Empire coming from behind to dispatch RBC Capital Markets Barbados Soccer Academy in a 2-1 thriller. The top-flight debutantes were off the mark in the 14th minute with a goal from Noah Nicholas.

Empire were held at bay for the majority of the rest of the first half until young Abiola Grant was taken down just outside the box. With Daniel Calvi stepping up to the plate to take the free kick, he made no mistakes as he sent the ball over a five-man wall to squeeze its way between the keeper, Christopher Wilson and the near post in the 47th minute.

Although there were several exchanges in the second half, neither team would be able to pull away inside of regulation time. With four minutes added onto the clock, and a corner kick in Empire's favour, the ball came in and off the head of Omando McLeod before falling to the knee of Renaldo Bignall and into the nets in the 92nd.

The nightcap game saw two-time defending champions Weymouth Wales held to their second loss of the season and a second on the trot as the Sports Programme moved up to second in Zone 2 behind Empire. They got things started with a goal by Omani Leacock in the 27th minute when his shot inside the box took a deflection off Andre Applewhaite.

Just before the half broke, Wales pulled one back as Romario Harewood danced through the defence to push the ball to the left of a diving Kishmar Primus in the 47th minute. 

Rashad Smith gave the soldiers the game-winner in the 51st with what was easily the goal of the night when he got a long pass from Shakeel Browne well inside the final third. With Ricardio Morris sticking to him like glue, Smith took the ball down made a turn to his right and sent a missile into the nets from just inside the 18. A diving Omari Eastmond could do nothing to keep the ball out.

With most of the second half still to play, Wales could not make any magic. Even after Rashawn Kellman was given his walking papers after a second yellow card, the defending champs were kept quiet.

Action is set to continue on Tuesday with rescheduled games from Saturday. At 7:00 PM, Mark's Auto Spares Porey Spring and Paradise FC will clash, while the nightcap at 9:00 goes to Crane and Equipment Ellerton take on the University of the West Indies Blackbirds.

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