SeaHawks Crash in Final 1st Leg
The San Pedro SeaHawks, and their many traveling fans, had a disappointing afternoon against Kulture Yabra on Saturday at the MCC, in Belize City. The first leg of the Final for the Prime Ministers Cup ended in a 3-0 defeat, and left the SeaHawks with the proverbial mountain to climb to win the trophy in next Sundays Second Leg.
The defeat would not have been as hard to take if San Pedro had been completely outclassed; but they weren’t. The first half had ended all square with, if anyone, the SeaHawks on top in terms of possession and chances created. The second half however was to be a different story, and at times a controversial affair.
The game started hard and fast, and, as befitting a final, was up-tempo with plenty of skill on show. Equally quickly the physical side of the game was set, as Yabra welcomed back ex player Jarbi Alvarez with an elbow in the face; and this was still the first minute.
San Pedro weathered the early pressure from Yabra, who created several shooting opportunities, and slowly saw more and more of the ball through midfield via Yellowman and Kellog, but without hurting the renowned Yabra defense. The first good chance of the game fell to San Pedro after 22mins when Raul Celiz volleyed a Shane Moody clearance back toward goal and after a header across the box it fell for Kalusha who shot wide of the target, with the keeper still struggling back. Yabra responded with the dangerous Emory Nunez put through on goal but he was denied a shooting opportunity by a fine sliding tackle by Captain Jose Lara. With little between the two sides the half time whistle came, with two quality sides nullifying each other, and no real clean-cut chances created.
The second half started with the SeaHawks making two early chances in succession with first Kellog shooting left footed over the bar after a good move down the right wing, and then Landy Pinelo beating the last defender from a quick throw in and passing just behind Kalusha, rather than taking a shot himself.
Within ten minutes of the restart San Pedro were made to rue their missed chances as Emory Nunez put Yabra 1-0 up. A melee near the right hand touchline broke across goal to him and he made no mistake with a left footed strike into the corner. The goal galvanized Yabra, as well as the home crowd, and the SeaHawks defense looked a little more vulnerable as Yabra pushed on trying to extend the lead. First Dean Flowers pulled a great save from Charlie Slusher within seconds of coming on as a substitute, then Emory Nunez shot over when well placed and Deon Frazer again forced Slusher into action.
In between these chances there were a rash of bookings as the game threatened to boil over. Both teams flew into hard challenges with angry reactions and personal recriminations taking place, and several times had most of the players confronting each other with pushing and shoving and verbal exchanges.
As the half wore on San Pedro were restricted to fewer and fewer chances and when they did attack Yabra looked very dangerous on the break with the fast Emory Nunez and Deon Frazer supported by the deeper Tilliman Nunez. After one such break down the right by Emory Nunez all hell broke loose after 75 mins, with a highly controversial goal given to Deon Frazer. After his shot was cleared off the line, onto the post and away, the linesman gave a goal. For a full two minutes he was besieged by protesting SeaHawks players, with the referee and several policemen trying to intervene. Somehow the goal stood and San Pedro were now in trouble, 2-0 down.
This left San Pedro chasing the game and needing to score to have a good chance in the second leg, while definitely not wanting to concede another one at the other end. This they tried, with several corners won and chances made, but generally not getting the run of the ball, or with players opting to pass rather than shoot when in good positions.
Disaster struck with 8 minutes left as Yabra extended their lead further through Daniel Thomas. Another fast attack down the right found its way through to Thomas, who came in all on his own to stroke it home after everyone in the middle had missed the initial cross.
In the end San Pedro were well beaten, by a good Yabra team. It could all have been so different if one, or even two, of the earlier San Pedro chances had gone in, but it was not to be a SeaHawks day. It will be a tough time winning the trophy from here, but who knows what will happen next week if San Pedro can score a couple of early goals. But that can’t happen: can it?