A late goal from national forward Jabarry ‘Papi’ Chandler earned Zone Two leaders Empire a seat at the top of the Barbados Football Association Premiership standings, with a 1-0 victory against Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme.
In the opening fixture contested Sunday at the Wildey AstroTurf, Empire’s win over BDFSP carried their total to 12 from four wins and a loss, having played five matches.
However, Empire are only one point clear of defending champions and Zone One leaders, Weymouth Wales currently on 11 points.
There are six teams in the two respective zones and Empire and Wales from here on will seek to gather as many points as possible to stay on top in their groups, for a chance to lift the championship title next year.
All eyes were on Zone Two on Sunday evening with three games scheduled on the rooster.
First up was Empire against three-time former champions BDFSP. Defensively both teams were strong, especially BDFSP, who played at a numerical disadvantage after midfielder Ranaldo Trim received yellow cards in the fourth and 29th minutes and received his marching orders.
Empire found some luck, however, and was able to score through their leading marksman Chandler in the 77th minute. That goal resulted from a beautiful set piece on the left by midfielder Curtis Odle who picked out Chandler inside the 18-yard box.
Chandler skilfully shifted the lone defender and slotted past an oncoming Kishmar Primus, Barbados’ first choice keeper.
Barbados captain Rashad Jules, sidelined with a groin injury, was badly missed, especially with his ability to create spaces and opportunities with his pace down the left, and BDFSP will be hoping on his quick return to competitive football.
Fellow senior national players Raheim Sargeant and Omani Leacock have been deployed in the midfield, but in the last two games, have been unable to produce any goal-scoring results.
In the nightcap game, a long-range volley from Shamar Atkinson secured full points for Youth Milan as they got the better of St Andrew Lions 1-0.
The winning goal came in the 38th minute, Atkinson showing his capabilities by manoeuvring through the St. Andrew defence and rifling a shot that goalkeeper Romain Primus failed to negotiate, as the ball dipped and curled into the back of the nets.
The strike secured Milan a narrow 1-0 half-time lead but there was no response from Lions in a goalless second half, and scoreline stood at full time.
For the Norman Forde-coached Milan, the victory was their second of the league season, while drawing once and losing twice. Lions, meanwhile, remained winless in their five matches played.
In the other game played on Sunday, second-placed Paradise played to a goalless stalemate against Ellerton Football Club.
Paradise remained undefeated, having won two and drawn three.