Dwain Jacobs (7) on the ball for Guyana. Photo: digicelfootball.com
STADE DE RIVIERE PILOTE, Martinique — Antigua and Barbuda got off the mark in the Digicel Caribbean Cup Finals with their first win, first clean sheet and first three points in Group I in windy conditions in Martinique over a tough Guyana side.
With both teams without a win yet in the finals, Guyana and Antigua started the game in very lively fashion as both teams looked to try to gain an early advantage.
The unmistakable Peter Byers of Antigua, with his dyed red hair, had the first golden opportunity of the match after only 7 minutes when put clean through on goal for a one on one by Josh Parker. The former Canadian league pro failed to beat Williams in the Golden Jaguars’ goal however as his timid shot was easy pickings for the reinstated net-minder.
Jacobs was looking lively down the right flank for Guyana and his trickery got him into a good crossing position on more than one occasion, only for the strong wind to scupper his attempted cross.
The elements played their part again on 33 minutes, when Mack of Antigua saw his attempted cross be taken by the wind and, but for the alert attention of keeper Williams in the Guyana goal, would surely have swerved inside the front post.
On 41 minutes, Parker struck a beautiful dead ball from the right and drilled it across goal. Someone must have told the Antiguans there was a shortage of shampoo as no player took the opportunity to dive and connect with a great chance for a headed goal.
The second half took much the same shape as the first with neither side looking as if they would create a chance, as the two defences were again coming out on top.
On 61 minutes, Byers had another chance to shoot and score but his shot yet again failed to live up to its promise as it dragged wide.
Guyana’s best chance arrived on 64 minutes as Jacobs raced through after being put clear by Gregory only for the Guyanese player to follow the same vein as Byers and put his effort wide of the mark.
The deadlock was broken on 69 minutes when Gason Gregory tried his luck from 25 yards and his left footed strike seemed to take the slightest of deflections from the melee of players in front of him to divert that ball past a wrong footed Williams in the Guyana goal.
Advantage Antigua. Game on.
Antigua almost doubled their advantage on 79 mins when Gason Gregory connected with a delicate chested knock down from Peter Byers only for his first time effort to be well saved by Williams with a strong right hand.
Guyana had their best chance on 85 minutes when Abrams was quickest in a dash to the ball with Antiguan netminder James but, when he crossed for Millington to head into an empty net, the Golden Jaguar saw his effort rebound off the post and then cleared from danger by a grateful defence.
That was the last chance for Guyana as Antigua held on for a deserved win and their opening 3 points for these Digicel Cup Finals.
While all teams will still be in with a chance, Guyana must feel they now have a mountain to climb as they will have to beat Jamaica and hope for positive results elsewhere in their final day’s game on Wednesday.
Antigua & Barbuda:
1 Molvin James 4 Karanja Mack 6 Joshua Parker (10. Desmind Bleau 46 mins) 7 Gason Gregory 12 Justin Cochrane 13 Kieran Murtagh 9 Kerry Skepple (14. Randolph Burton 58 mins) 17 George Dublin (Captain) 19 Martin McCoy 20 Akeem Thomas 16 Peter Byers (2. Ranja Christian 90 mins)
Coach: Rowan Benjamin
1 Ronson Williams 3 Howard Lowe (Captain) 4 Chris Bourne 5 Walter Moore (9. Dwight Peters 72 mins)6 Jake Newton 7 Dwain Jacobs 10 Anthony Abrams (15. Shawn Beveney 66mins) 11 Kester Jacobs 13 Charles Pollard 18 Devon Millington (17. Warren Gilkes 90 mins) 19 Nigel Codrington
Coach: Wayne Dover
Referee: Enrico Wijngaarde (Suriname)
Assistant Referee 1: Dion Neil (Trinidad & Tobago)
Assistant Referee 2: Graeme Brown (St Kitts)
Match Commissioner: Patrick Beckles ( Barbados)