Barbados rose to the challenge and were on course for glory when Jamaica in the space of four minutes equalized 2-2 in last night’s international friendly at the Barbados Football Association’s Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf.
The Bajan Tridents led by captain Rashad Jules took a commanding 2-0 advantage over the Reggae Boyz through an own goal in the 33rd minute by Chevone Marsh, then another from hometown star forward Zeco Edmee in the 43rd minute.
The fair sized home crowd were in celebration mode and no doubt that was what Barbados’ technical director Ahmed Mohammed wanted, as the national side prepares for the upcoming Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football [CONCACAF] Nations League Cup scheduled for September in Guyana.
Giving his synopsis during the post-match press conference, Mohammed said: “What we wanted to show was how far we are, what we have done the last couple of months so that you could see our progress and where we are. The main thing was not to hide even though the opponent is higher ranked. So, we did very well in the first half and the second half we were playing a little too deep, we could have gone a little bit further but at the end of the day that is football. Really and truly I don’t like to criticize referees, but he put a little bit of his part as well. We were supposed to win this game, and that’s the fact. And the Jamaicans are lucky to go home with this 2-2 [result].”
Barbados last won against Jamaica 1-0 in 2003. Since then the Reggae Boyz have won all five of their encounters against the Tridents who were on a quest yesterday to register what would have been their third overall victory over the visitors since 1996.
Jamaica had most of the early possession, but Barbados found the breakthrough compliments a great effort between utility player Raheim Sargeant at wing-back and his fellow Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme teammate Rashad Jules. Sargeant delivered a ten-yard leading pass to Jules running on the right flank towards the Sargeant Village end, the talented attacking midfielder then took on the defender outside the 18-yard box and struck a beautiful ball that came off an unlucky Chevone Marsh for the opening goal.
Then two minutes before halftime Edmee struck his fourth international goal for Barbados when attacking midfielder Hadan Holligan with a burst of speed down the left, outpaced two defenders and delivered a square ball to Edmee who struck a powerful shot that scored past one defender and goalkeeper Damion Hyatt whose slide tackle was to no avail.
The feel of victory was so close for the men in Ultra-marine, gold, and black until the 80th minute when they toiled to ensure that the contest remained in their favour. Three minutes into the second half Jamaica upped the tempo and won themselves a penalty kick taken by Fabion McCarthy who was brilliantly denied by Barbados’ number one custodian Kishamr Primus. But Jamaica eventually responded through midfielders Marvin Morgan and Peter Vassell in the 80th and 84th minutes respectively for the equalizer.
A lapse in concentration in the defensive third and too much breathing room on the left field allowed Morgan, who came on as a substitute in the 69th minute, to rifle a shot from the right past Barbados’ goalkeeper Jason Boxill who came on in place of an injured Kishmar Primus in the 54th minute.
Just like Primus, the experience Paradise goalkeeper was outstanding with a few diving saves, as he did well to deny Jamaica when Barbados’ back four led by Weymouth Wales central defenders Teriq Highland and Ramar Millar along with Mario ‘Bagga’ Williams and Sargeant slipped up.
Barbados began to play deep, protecting those two goals scored and after Jamaica cut the deficit by one, center referee Sherwin Moore signalled to the penalty spot after Sargeant who played well throughout was found guilty of handling the ball. Vassell then stepped up to the 12-yard spot and made no mistake to ensure the match ended in a draw.
After the game, Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore told the media: “In the first half we allowed the Barbados team to get the best of us both physically and mentally. We made some adjustments for the second half, and we were entirely in control. The goalkeeper did well tonight for Barbados in keeping us out, but I think our team showed character.”