HARBOUR View snatched the Claro/Jackie Bell Knock-out title on Wednesday after Andre Steel scored a 90th-minute equaliser for the six-time champions to rally from a goal down against Arnett Gardens to win on 5-4 on penalties.
Arnett dominated the match and took the lead in the 73rd minute when Dennis McKinley fired them ahead.
However, they went down to 10 men three minutes from time when Gerald Neil received his second yellow card before Steel scrambled home the equaliser to send the game into extra-time.
Harbour View’s coach Donovan Hayles was full of praise for his opponents, but thought his team’s strong discipline was the key to their survival.
“In the first half we were a bit cagey and I asked them to come out of the cage and play… and I thought they responded,” he said.
“… I’m very pleased with the players for digging deep and coming up with the victory,” he added.
Arnett settled first in an open, attacking contest, and in the first 10 minutes Marvin Stewart and Kirk Ramsey both had good strikes denied by Harbour View goalkeeper Michaud Barrett.
Harbour View then had a great chance, but Kemeel Wolfe headed wide from Jermaine Hue’s free-kick in the 13th.
For most of the half, both teams’ attacks were spearheaded by their contrasting captains, with the speedy and direct Ramsey creating constant problems for the Harbour View.
Hue, on the other hand, skilfully and methodically tried to pry open Arnett’s rearguard.
As Arnett increased in confidence and imposed their slick-passing game, Ricardo Smith blasted an effort high from close range in the 25th, then Barret had to go full stretch to parry Rohan Reid’s 25-yard drive minutes later.
Ramsey, who has become a favourite with the Arnett fans, broke through soon afterwards, but his effort was blocked by a sliding Dicoy Williams.
However, Harbour View, who were on the backfoot, got a peek at goal in the 35th, but Hue’s free-kick just missed the target.
Wolfe then went inches over for Harbour View three minutes later, with a delicate chip from the edge of the box.
The game followed the same pattern after the break, with Garfield Gillespie heading over the bar for Arnett three minutes into the half.
On the hour mark, Tivoli native Ricardo Stern ran through on a slyly taken free-kick from Neil, but his well-direct effort was parried by Barrett. The rebound fell to Ramsey, who volleyed over the bar from seven yards.
A minute later, McKinley had a great chance from the edge of the box, but fired a wayward shot. However, 10 minutes later, the midfielder corrected his earlier error when he collected a ball on top of the box and danced past his marker before rooting a low shot under Barrett.
Arnett wasted a flurry of chances to seal the win thereafter, with Ramsey Stewart and Stern missing opportunities.
Harbour View’s main threats towards the end of the match came from former Arnett Gardens player and resident Lamar Nelson who forced Damion Hyatt to make two diving saves from a 25-yard, and a then 40-yard free-kick.
In the 87th minute, Gerald Neil, who was having an impressive game for Arnett, picked up his second booking and was ejected.
In added time, Harbour View threw in a last-ditch effort and during a melee, Steele rose to head home a loose ball for the equaliser.
Arnett had the better of extra period and had chances in either half through Smith and Ramsey, while Steel had one good effort for Harbour View.
But during the dreaded shoot-out, reliable veteran striker Kevin ‘Pele’ Wilson was the only kicker to miss his spot kick as Harbour View clinched the title from the jaws of defeat and walked away with the $350,000 top prize.
Arnett’s coach Paul ‘Tegat’ Davis said it was a stellar performance from his team and he is hoping they can maintain this level of performance in the Digicel Premier League.
“This is football, I believe we lost a little (spirit) after they equalised and then we came up short in the penalty shoot-out,” he said.