Clayton Kola Tonic Notre Dame kept their hopes of remaining in Barbados’ top-flight football alive by defeating relegation-bound Solaris Pinelands 3-2, in the Digicel-sponsored Barbados Football Association’s Premier League at the Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf last night.
The two teams met in a must-win situation for Notre Dame, with Pinelands basically past the point of no return. After suffering 13 defeats from 15 games in their season of futility, Pinelands are sitting at the bottom of the ten-team table, the fat lady has sang herself hoarse and the pallbearers are already in position. And, to make matters worse, almost all of Pinelands’ senior players including national striker Arantees Lawrence and captain Romelle Burgess have quit.
Pinelands have made room for Ellerton Football Club and Waterford Compton who have both been promoted to the 2017 premiership. But the question still remains whether Notre Dame can avoid being the second team to be relegated this season.
As it stands just one point separates seventh to ninth position. Belfield Soccer Club are in seventh place on 13 points, Empire have 12 points for eighth place followed by ninth placed Notre Dame on 11 points while Pinelands are somewhere in the nether regions on a mere two points after 15 games.
Last night the Dames came out on top and had somewhat of a head start after Pinelands were forced to play their under-17 squad due to the resignation of several players. To their credit, the under-17s were not daunted by the task.
In the first half Notre Dame, coached by Renaldo Gilkes who notched his first win in the league, took the lead when Kyle Gibson broke away through the middle and passed to Antone Greaves who squared to fellow striker Dwayne Mars. Mars had enough time to compose himself and slot the ball to the left far post for the opening goal in the 7th minute.
Greaves was doing wonders for Notre Dame and in the 15th minute worked his magic on the left flank once more with a pass to Mars who delivered an easy right foot shot just outside the 18-yard box and the ball rolled past Pinelands custodian Tyreese Alleyne to make it 2-0.
Clearly the young men of Pinelands needed to settle themselves into a better rhythm if they wanted to get back into the game. But while they were trying to sort themselves out Notre Dame found the nets again three minutes before half-time through Gibson to make it 3-0.
The men from Bayland were in a firm position heading into the second half but it was not too long after that Pinelands created a few meaningful chances. Eventually, two of these materialized into goals. Keith Warner narrowed the deficit with a good effort in the 67th minute to give Pinelands supporters a bit of cheer. And two minutes later Notre Dame were left biting their nails when Lamar Scantlebury added another goal to narrow the gap even more at 3-2.
At that stage of the game Notre Dame had every reason to be concerned because not only had they conceded two goals in quick succession, but Shane Mottley who played as goalkeeper in place of Kareem Farrell, was struck in his face and had to leave the field on a stretcher. Bryan Neblett put on the goalkeeping gloves and Notre Dame defended their one-goal advantage as though their very survival depended on it. It did, and they survived. But now they will have to keep winning and hope other results go in their favour as the season draws to a close.
In the other game played Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) defeated Empire 2-1 thanks to goals from Shaquille Stewart in the 4th minute and Romario Harewood in the 35th. Omando McLeod got one past BDFSP goalkeeper Dario Weir in the 90th minute with an excellent left-strike.