A flawless display in the second half saw St. Joseph’s College beating Holy Cross 2-1 courtesy of two goals from outside the box in a pulsating final showdown to win the U19 Division I Football Championship at Moragasmulla Grounds, Rajagiriya.
Holy Cross outclassed Maris Stella College in a physically enthralling battle to book their place in the finals.
After not being tipped to get into the semi-finals in the group containing big names such as Zahira College, Hameed Al Husseinie College and St. Peter’s College, the boys from Kalutara answered the critics by not losing a single match and getting into the finals.
A late surge from Maris Stella College in the dying minutes was not enough as Holy Cross managed to hold off defending champions to win 2-1 in the U19 Division I semifinal clash held at Moragasmulla Grounds, Rajagiriya.
St.Joseph’s College held their nerve in a thrilling end to end encounter against a formidable Hameed Al Husseinie outfit in the penalty shoot out to get into the finals.
Their only loss came against Maris Stella College early in the tournament but they responded to the defeat with a whopping 22 goals in the group stages; the most number of goals scored by any team in the tournament.
St. Joseph’s College beat Hameed Al Husseinie College in the second semifinal encounter of the U19 Division I Football tournament held at Moragasmulla grounds.
St. Joseph’s College kicked off the proceedings at sun soaked Ranawaka Stadium and with nerves running down through the pitch, the players found it hard to build up momentum in the early period of exchange.
The plan was clear from both sides as both teams tried long balls to feed their speedsters. The defense didn’t take any chances whatsoever, clearing away any balls coming their way without second thoughts.
The first real chance of the game came to Asela Madushan. The opportunity was similar to the one he received in the semi-finals but he couldn’t correct his mistake as he sent the ball rocketing over the top again.
He made amends for the miss in fabulous style when he scored a low pile driver from outside the box to score a stunner in the 17th minute.
The match came to life after the goal as the Joes started to dictate terms. However against the run of play a delightful through ball found Nirmal Udara who burst through and slotted past the goalkeeper only to be deemed offside by the linesman in a rather controversial call.
But a moment of madness in the 28th minute allowed Holy Cross to get back on level terms through a Mayuraka Perera own goal.
Holy Cross tried to release Nirmal Udara with a long ball. Mayuraka Perera, standing in between the ball and Udara, signaled the goalkeeper to come and collect but the goalkeeper was too late to respond. The confusion resulted in the Josephian skipper heading the ball into his own net.
Half Time: Holy Cross College 1 – 1 St. Joseph’s College
St.Joseph’s started the 2nd half the brighter of two sides, trying to regain the lost lead.
Jayson Fernando cut back a nimble cross to feed Sachintha Maduranga but the Holy Cross center-back Mohamed Afdal was up to the task to clear the danger away.
Holy Cross, known for their defending capabilities, couldn’t breathe a sigh of relief as the Darley road boys camped in the opposition half and launched wave after wave of attack. But Holy Cross did well to stick firm to clear away the threats.
Just when it looked like Holy Cross had weathered the attacking Josephian storm, Amila Dhananjaya scored a stunner from outside the box to put St. Joseph’s into the lead again.
A feeble clearance allowed Amila Dhananjaya acres of space and he deposited the ball into the low left corner of the net in the 64th minute after he squandered a similar chance a few minutes earlier.
Sachintha Maduranga proved why he is one of the best forwards in the current school football arena with a strong effort from a difficult angle but the goalkeeper Malinda Jayod managed to parry it away for a corner.
St. Joseph’s College continued to dominate with Sachintha Maduranga creating all sort of troubles for a rattled Holy Cross defense.
Amila Dhananjaya almost doubled his tally with another power effort from 15 yards out but the Holy Cross custodian Malinda Jayod made a terrific save to keep his sides’ hopes alive. Jayson Fernando missed a sitter to put the match to rest minutes later.
It never looked like Holy Cross College would come up with an equalizer and the referee blew the final whistle to end the match in St. Joseph’s favour.
Full Time: Holy Cross College 1 – 2 St. Joseph’s College
ThePapare.com Player of the Match: Asela Madushan (St. Joseph’s College)
Speaking to ThePapare.com Coach of Holy Cross College had this to say;
“We came into the match with an injury crisis but the players gave everything on the pitch. It was hard to digest the fact that the opposition’s main three players are products of Holy Cross. We didn’t lose to any others but ourselves. We will be coming strong next year”
Sampath, the Coach of the winning side was all smiles;
“The players were brilliant today. Despite the own goal we believed in the team. They were outstanding in the second half. We knew Holy Cross is a physical side but we beat them for pace and fitness and rightfully won the match”
SLSFA Player of the Final – Asela Madushan (St.Joseph’s College)
SLSFA Best Goalkeeper of the Final – Rasanjaya Anuranga (St.Joseph’s College)
Golden Boot (Highest Goal Scorer of the Tournament) – Nirmal Udara Perera (Holy Cross College)
Holy Cross College: Mayuraka Perera (own goal) 28’
St. Joseph’s College: Asela Madushan 16’, Amila Dhananjaya 62’
Holy Cross College: Shavinda Fernando 21’
St. Joseph’s College: Prabodh Madushan 64’