The mid-season final of the LIME/St Catherine Major League brought spectators to their feet on Thursday, as Rodwood FC staved off a strong finishing Frazsiers Whip to win 5-3 in a breathtaking thriller at the Spanish Town Prison Oval.
It was sweet revenge for Floyd Coke's men, who lost to the league leaders in round two in October, as they had the perfect start in what turned into an enthralling contest.
"I think that we made a few errors today (Thursday). It should not have been so close but it was a great game. It's a morale booster. We had some problems as it's the case with all teams, but we are confident of taking this championship," a beaming Rodwood coach Coke said.
After 25 minutes, Rodwood were 3-0 up with Omar Washington opening the scoring as early as the third minute, poking home from close range following a communication breakdown at the back. Cleveland Hall doubled the lead on 18 minutes when he arrived in time to slot in Chase Spence's high cross, while Mark Walters set them sailing moments later when he rounded goalkeeper Moshel Nelson to record his first of two goals in the match.
Stunned by the early goals, Frazsiers coach Rayon Gordon demanded something special from his shell-shocked troops and Alton Brown responded almost immediately when he let fly a scorcher from atop the 18-yard box that had Rodwood's ''keeper Nevada Neuville well beaten.
Rodwood ended the half in the ascendency but Frazsiers were returning to a sense of self belief which they carried over on the resumption. And nine minutes after the restart, the deficit was cut to one when Kemar Beckford was brought down inside the penalty area, while Ricardo Whyte made not mistake from 12 yards.
The action on the pitch intensified and it was evident that both sides had gone for the jugular after the hour mark, as it became a nightmare for defenders.
It would prove costly for Frazsiers though, as Nelson fouled Dale Dixon and was justifiably sent off by referee Raymond Bogle. Dixon got up and converted the spot-kick with aplomb with 19 minutes remaining, while Frazsiers' substitute goalie Lorando Reid replaced midfielder Rohan Douglas.
However, Frazsiers hit back instantly when Beckford dismissed two defenders on the left side before cutting in and firing at the near post which caught Neuville flat-footed as he was anticipating a cross.
With a one-man advantage, the green-clad Rodwood surged forward yet again with Walters scoring his second and fifth of the team as he capitalised on some poor defending.
But thoughts of another comeback evaporated quickly as Rodwood held on for a fantastic and deserved victory.
Coach Gordon said: "I don't know what went wrong. Some of the players didn't show enough guts. From you don't come with your game plan teams are gonna capitalise on you."
Meanwhile, in the LIME/St Catherine Division One mid-season final, played earlier at the same venue, league leaders Old Harbour Bay FC gained revenge on Travellers FC, winning 2-0.
Last Sunday, Travellers defeated their main rival 1-0 to qualify for Thursday's clash, but Old Harbour Bay ran out comfortable winners in the end after a goalless first half.
The clearest chance of the first period went to Travellers' Michael Hurst, who missed a sitter. But early into the second half the formidable pair of Jevaughn Smith and Lowan Myers combined well to create the opening goal, when the former crossed from the right side for his strike partner to stab home.
A minute from time, victory was sealed when Devroy Gray scored from a Najja Biggs pass, while it ended on a sour note for Travellers as player/coach Craig Richards was ejected in time added.
"I think we played well in patches. In the end indiscipline got the better of us we made two simple mistakes and they were rewarded with two goals," said Richards.
Naturally, Johnson was pleased at game's end.
"The squad is big; we have a lot of talent in Old Harbour Bay... our aim is to make the top-four, preferably topping the table, play the semi-finals and move on to the Major League," Johnson said.