With a soothing wind blowing across the park in a warm afternoon sun and the drums beating in rapid rhythms, you sensed this was going to be a memorable afternoon of New York Caribbean Cup soccer as all of last Sunday’s games had playoff implications.
To the disappointment of coach Roy Charles, Team St. Kitts & Nevis took the field against Team Panama with less than their full complement of 11 players and paid the price almost instantly when Oscar Eccleston latched on to a loose ball from close in and Team Panama came away celebrating.
Shortly after the opening goal, additional players arrived for the Sugar Boys to bring them up to full strength.
For a tense 15-minute stretch, the Kitishians actually had Team Panama on their heels but it was Los Canaleros, who much against the run of play, doubled their score through an own goal gift. In attempting to head a ball away from danger, Julian Bradshaw did not get to the ball properly and only succeeded in seeing the ball slide off his forehead and into the goal helped by the calming breeze. Matter of fact, goalkeeper Malik Liburd hurt himself in a vain attempt to save the miscue by his defender.
Akil Byron was called on to take the gloves for the injured Malik Liburd as the teams went to the break with Los Canaleros leading 2-0.
Team St. Kitts & Nevis opened the second half kicking toward the Flatlands goal and 12 minutes into the half, Alister Warner deftly eluded a defender in the six-yard box and slotted the ball home.
With time running down to the final whistle, Los Canaleros appeared to be fading when the Sugar Boys allowed Rogelio Nash to outrun their defense to a loose ball to drive the ball pass substitute goalkeeper Akil Byron.
That goal broke the camel’s back as Los Canaleros went home 3-1 winners and firmly in the 25th anniversary playoffs.
Game two was tabbed as the easy game of the afternoon between Team Jamaica and Team Dominica. The pre-game prognosis had the New York Reggae Boyz easy winners and the only question was, by how much?
Despite the odds against them, it was a determined Team Dominica that took the field and certainly while Team Jamaica dominated the early exchanges, the ball was not going in the back of the net. Team Dominica goalkeeper Dillon Isidore had his hands full but handled his job admirably. However, the Jamaicans failure to score early and maybe even often was due to their nonchalance in trying to beat the keeper with fancy shots instead of shooting hard and true.
Finally, the break-through came when Jermaine Christian picked up a pass on the right side, faked his defender as if he was going down the right side but suddenly turned inside of him and shot the ball through a wall of defenders.
The goal did not seem to worry the Dominicans who continued to defend stoutly. On their first venture out of their defensive half, Team Dominica shook the Yardies by scoring and pulling the game even. The goal coming on a long throw deep into the Jamaicans goal mouth that saw Travis Henry outjump the defense to head into the back of the net.
At one goal each, the teams went to the break.
For the first 15 minutes or so of the second half, the New York Reggae Boyz continued to dominate the action but without success. Suddenly a cross from Damion Benjamin found Irvino English who headed home ferociously to put the Jamaicans ahead 2-1.
Shortly after, Team Jamaica scored their third goal. This time Miguel Ricketts passed the ball to Damion Benjamin whose shot bounded off the post and fell at the feet of Ricketts who rolled the ball to Benjamin to tap over the line.
Earlier this year, Dannie Shaw scored what has been ear-marked as probably the goal of the season so far. His second goal of the season this afternoon is also close. Damion Benjamin touch passed a long cross from Irvino English to Shaw whose shot from distance rippled the net. That goal closed the scoring and gave Team Jamaica a 4-1 win over Team Dominica.
Anytime Team Guyana plays Team Grenada at soccer, expect fireworks and that afternoon’s feature was no different.
The whistle had hardly sounded when the Spice Boyz went ahead 1-0. The Golden Jaguars were slow to react to a long pass through the heart of their defense that allowed Denron Frederick to run onto and slip the ball pass an advancing Richie Richards.
Following the goal, the game drifted into an end to end struggle with the teams attacking and counter attacking. It was from one of these counter attacks that Devon Millington picked out Clive Nobrega, who after fumbling the ball, was able to dribble it over the goal-line to tie the score at one.
With the score tied at one apiece, the tempo picked up considerably, however, there was no further scoring as the half closed.
Tied at one goal each, the game was decided in the second minute of the second half when Kevin Wellington out muscled the Jaguars defense and hit the back of the net to give the Spice Boyz a 2-1 lead, which they held to the final whistle.
The win means Team Grenada will represent the Eastern Zone in the first annual President’s Trophy match on Aug. 7.
Games Sunday, July 31, 2016
1:30 pm – Team Trinidad & Tobago vs Team Antigua & Barbuda
3:30 pm – Team St. Vincent & the Grenadines vs Team St. Lucia
5:30 pm – Team Haiti vs Team St. Kitts & Nevis
This is the final weekend of the preliminary round of the tournament. Aug. 7 is the 2016 New York Caribbean Cup Mid-Season Classic. Then the playoffs begin Aug. 14 with the first two quarter-finals games.