A lone goal slotted home by senior national attacking midfielder Romario Harewood restored Weymouth Wales confidence as the defending champions escaped a fifth consecutive defeat when they scored a 1-0 victory against Paradise at the Wildey, St Michael Astroturf.
Just last season Paradise defeated Wales to lift the Stag Beer Champions Cup Knockout title, and last night the two teams collided, this time in the Barbados Football Association Premier League.
Wales have yet to play the type of football local spectators have grown accustomed to, but yesterday with a win being of paramount importance, the Thomas Jordan-coached team fuelled with a desire to win took the fight to Paradise and came out on top.
National Under-20 player and man-of-the-match Andre Applewhaite was instrumental manoeuvring from left-back position to attack where he grabbed hold of possession with a pass up the midfield to captain Hadan Holligan.
With a player as skillful as Holligan, a five-yard touch was delivered to Ray Snagg with a beautiful cross to Harewood inside the six-yard box who finished brilliantly to give Wales the win. This was paramount as they trailed closely on 14 points in second position behind the University of the West Indies with a total of 15 at the top of zone one standings.
The reigning two-time champions looked more assertive on the ball against a Paradise side who were without the service of three key players. Defenders Barry Skeete and Rommell Burgess, both injured while national midfielder Ackeel Applewhaite was serving a one-game suspension.
With the six-footer Skeete and Burgess unavailable, Paradise’s defence led by Zico Phillips was caught napping a bit too often especially when Wales created those lovely set pieces that left the opposition scrambling.
In the opening fixture of the day, zone two leaders Empire snatched a 2-1 victory against Porey Spring to ensure they remained top of the premiership overall standings on 25 points having played ten matches, won eight, drawn and lost one each with a goal difference of 12, scoring 19 and conceding seven.
Striker Abiola Grant scored the opening goal for Empire in the 15th minute of the out-of-zone contest against zone one team Porey Spring who quickly responded minutes later in the 22nd period through captain Shaquille Stewart.
The scores remained locked 1-1 at half-time and just when the game seemed headed for a stalemate Grant’s national Under-17 teammate Jahmali Hutson accounted for the winning goal in the 80th minute.
An unselfish pass from Jabarry ‘Papi’ Chandler in the midfield to the youngster left unmarked in the 18-yard area was enough to seal the deal for Empire. Hutson drove a powerful shot that dipped left of goalkeeper Anthony Rollins who stood no chance.
Despite the win, Empire suffered an unwanted blow in the dying stages of the game when Brazilian striker Daniel Cavli was red carded in the 90+2 minutes by referee Adrian Goddard and will miss the next fixture against Brittons Hill. He was sent off for elbowing one of the opposing players in the face.
Former three-time defending champions Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme were also in action and managed to clinch a 1-0 victory over Brittons Hill when senior national captain Rashad Jules scored in the 77th minute.
The soldiers have struggled so far this season, and last night again they encountered the very same problem of finishing every time they got into the final third. It was a disappointment to witness BDFSP toil so hard in the midfield only to miss the target so many times.
However, all was not lost as BDFSP managed to scrape a hard-fought win and remain in third position on 20 points in zone two behind Empire and Paradise while Ellerton Football Club on 18 points are in fourth place, followed by St. Andrew Lions on 13 in fifth and Youth Milan at the bottom of the standings with nine points.