Cedric Collet (12) skips away for Guadeloupe. Photo: digicelfootball.com
STADE DE RIVIERE PILOTE, Martinique — Guyana stole a point in their opening Digicel Caribbean Cup Finals game against a dominant Guadeloupe side that should have secured the three points but for wasteful finishing in front of goal.
In a home from home, the larger brother of the French West Indies islands, Guadeloupe, started their opening Finals game brightly and should have been in front after only 2 minutes but Livio Nabab failed to stretch far enough to connect his header downward.
Despite being the only side to qualify from the first round proper of the Digicel Cup, Guyana had a heavy task in front of them to try and topple the French giants in their opening game of the Finals. This seemed worsened by the fact that Guadeloupe could afford to rest some of their key players such as Collet, who is enjoying his time in the Belgian league.
While the Golden Jaguars looked to contain the French, it was Livio Nabab who was again the man presented with a golden chance after 24 minutes when he cut in from the right after being found all alone by skipper Auvray, only to fail to hit the target when presented with a one on one situation.
After 30 minutes Belson forced Williams into a brilliant save as his tenacious tackle on the touchline allowed him a free shot on goal that forced the stopper down to his left and away. Williams was the saviour again 3 minutes later when that man again, Nabab, still could not find a way past the Jaguars’ number 1 with his header from 6 yards out.
The second half picked up where the first ended, with the French dominating. Guyana coach Wayne Dover resorted to shuffling his side up and replaced star players Codrington and Peters, who were not being supplied with any quality and were struggling to find their form.
Big centre half Jean Luc Lambourde was offered a chance on 63 minutes when a free kick from 35 yards out presented him with his trademark striking chance. The venom with which he catches the dead ball was shown to startling effect in the second round group games, and here again would have been a devastating result but for a full length save from Williams for yet another French corner.
Guadeloupe finally broke the deadlock in the messiest of circumstances, when the delivery from the left by Ictoi eluded everyone, skidded off the wet surface and Loval was the only one who reacted by extending his long right leg and steered the ball over the goal line in almost a slow motion fashion.
The worsening weather did not help Guyana but Guadeloupe pressed on looking to kill the game off. With 6 minutes remaining, Collet connected beautifully with another well placed cross from Ictoi, only for what must have been the save of the tournament from Williams, who somehow saved the thunderous volley.
Guadeloupe thought they had bagged the second when Lambourde connected with Ictoi’s cross from the left, only for the linesman Dion Neil to rule it out for a very contentious offside call that incensed the French side.
As fate would have it, Guyana then stormed down field and with their only shot in the second half, equalized. As the French pushed forward looking for the second, a long ball caught their defence flat and substitute Dwain Jacobs ran through and slotted the ball over the advancing Bus in the Guadeloupe goal.
While Bus may have had only one thing to do in the entire second half, it was to pick the ball out of his net and with it his side’s hopes of a perfect start to the finals competition were dashed.
1 Ronson Williams 3 Howard Lowe (Captain) 4 Chris Bourne 5 Walter Moore 6 Jake Newton 9 Dwight Peters (12. Howard Newton 58 mins) 11 Kester Jacobs 13 Charles Pollard 16 Philbert Moffat 18 Devon Millington (10 Anthony Abrams 78 mins) 19 Nigel Codrington (Dwain Jacobs 58 mins)
Coach: Wayne Dover
1 Yohann Bus 2 Kevin Lacroix 4 Ulick Lupede 6 Stephane Auvray (Captain) 7 Mickael Nicoise (10 Gregory Gendrey 67 mins) 8 Fabien Belson (12. Cedric Collet 46 mins) 13 Jean Luc Lomboude 14 Julien Ictoi 15 Livio Naba (9. Ludovic Gotin 90mins) 19 Larry Clavier 20 Loic Loval
Coach: Roger Salnot
Referee: Lee Davis (Trinidad & Tobago)
Assistant Referee 1: Dion Neil (Trinidad & Tobago)
Assistant Referee 2: Ainsley Rochard (Trinidad & Tobago)
Match Commissioner: Hubert Isenia (Curacao)