Rivoli’s Lee repays coach’s confidence with title-winning goal
Kenny Lee's first-half strike gave 10-man Rivoli United a 1-0 win over Old Harbour Bay United at Spanish Town Prison Oval on Sunday, to carry the Spanish Town club to their second successive hold on the St Catherine Happy Sutherland knockout title.
However, Old Harbour Bay were fuming at the final whistle as they had a valid penalty claim turned down by referee Oshane Nation just before the end.
But it was Lee, a former Humble Lion and Albion United player, who stole the spotlight. The attacker has received limited playing time this season, but on Sunday he justified his coach's decision to give him a rare start by scoring the game's only goal 17 minutes into the contest.
"The main focus is to work on my game. The coach says I am not running back, so right now I am focused on hard work, and hard work paid off today. I have worked hard in training to get back a start and I showed him (coach) that I deserve to get a start," he said.
"This is the stepping stone to go forward, and good things are to come. (The goal) is a good motivation for my career, I just have to stay focused and humble," Lee added.
Lee had the first real opportunity after 13 minutes, but he blasted over from 12 yards.
THE UNSTOPPABLE SHOT
However, minutes later, he made amends with a more difficult chance on his supposedly weaker left foot, as he hammered an unstoppable shot past Royston Morrison in goal for Old Harbour Bay.
Ten minutes later, Rivoli had the ball in the net again with an exquisite control and finish from Cory Burke, but he was ruled offside.
Old Harbour continued to struggle to create openings in the second half, even after Rivoli's right back, Kevin Graham, was ejected after 72 minutes.
However, in the last minute, Old Harbour had great shouts for a penalty when former Rivoli player, Luke Soares, left a defender for dead inside the area, but the defender used his hand to knock the ball from Soares' stride, much to the chagrin of the Old Harbour fans and coach Jabari Baker, who argued that they got a raw deal.
"From the game started, I don't what's up with the referee and then we got a clear, clear penalty and I don't know what's wrong. But from the first whistle that's how he treated us," stated Baker.
Rivoli's coach, Calvert Fitzgerald, said his team's superior conditioning made the difference.
"It wasn't a pretty game and a lot of energy was expended. I think we are a little bit fitter, as they were running with a type of energy they needed to win the game, but we were the fitter team. So we were able to withstand them," he assessed.