St. Kitts beat Dominica in hard-fought duel

Perennial cellar-placed team Dominica fought gallantly to minimize their loss to St. Kitts and Nevis on Sunday in the fifth round of the Digicel New York Caribbean Soccer Cup at the Jefferson High School stadium in Brooklyn.

In attempting to shrug off the label of the Cup’s “whipping boys,” Dominica kept their margin of defeat to a minimum, losing 1-2 in a very robust challenge against the Cup’s third-spot team.

The Dominicans, clearly, could have emerged victorious had they capitalized on numerous scoring opportunities.

On the other hand, the Kittitians and Nevisians took advantage of any Dominican acquiescence to win the duel before a relatively small but very vocal crowd in overcast conditions.

St. Kitts and Nevis took the lead in the 28th minute through inept goal keeping by Biah Ettica.

After holding St. Kitts and Nevis at bay for most of the first half, the Dominicans were stunned when Ettica allowed a low shot from Attis Hughes, 10 yards outside the penalty box, to fly through his legs, giving St. Kitts and Nevis their first goal.

But, very determined to shrug off the embarrassment, the Dominicans rebounded three minutes into the second half, when Nia George blasted past St. Kitts and Nevis’ custodian, Jeffrey Hewlett, 14 yards outside the penalty box, on the left flank.

Dominica then made several forays into the St. Kitts and Nevis defense but woefully lacked conversion skills.

St. Kitts and Nevis, however, demonstrated more dexterity when Jolston Whattley gave them the all-important lead in the 59th minute by hammering low to Ettica’s right.

It was St. Kitts and Nevis’ first win, from two matches, in the 2011 campaign, having drawn with Grenada, 1-1, in the opening round on May 15. Dominica had also drawn with Guyana, 0-0, in the second match of the season’s triple header on that date.

“It was a tough win,” acknowledged Larry John, St. Kitts and Nevis’ head coach in a post-match Caribbean Life interview. “We had some injuries; but it does not matter who you put on the field, the goal is to win the Cup.”

His Dominican counterpart, Gregory Lawrence, said his players deviated significantly from the game plan.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “We could have won the game. They did not implement the basic skills – one-two touches. I just hope we can get them back in future matches.”

In the earlier match of Sunday’s double header, Trinidad and Tobago beat Barbados 2-1. Cleveland Jordan and Christian Taylor converted for Trinidad and Tobago, while Omar Marshall scored Barbados’ lone goal.

In this Sunday’s triple header, Guyana will battle Grenada, Haiti will oppose St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Colombia will challenge defending champions Jamaica.

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