A brace from Empire striker Zinio Harris was sufficient for the mighty blues to clinch a 2-1 victory over Paradise last night in the Barbados Football Association’s Premier League.
Played at the Wildey, St. Michael AstroTurf, Empire’s match-winning performance further widen the gap in the standings as they lead with 31 points ahead of fellow zone two teams Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme on 26 points and Paradise in the third position on 24 points.
Paradise enjoyed a fair amount of ball possession but Empire with a lone opportunity in the 45+2 minute won themselves a free kick opportunity and scored through Harris on the stroke of half time.
That goal resulted from a free kick opportunity taken inside the 18-yard box when Abiola Grant dribbled into the offensive final third and was met with a strong cover challenge by Paradise left-back Ramon Manning who was found guilty of a foul by referee Jamar Springer.
Harris struck a magnificent delivery when he pierced Paradise’s defence with a low strike that was powerfully struck and left Paradise goalkeeper Paul Doughty for dead.
Empire was without a few of their top players due to injury but they kept the pressure on in the offensive third and scored whenever those rare opportunities presented themselves.
Another chance for goal number two came about when Curtis Odle miss-kicked the ball which made its way on to the boot of none other than striker Harris for a brace to his name in the 60th minute.
Harris once collected the ball, shifted Paradise’s stand-in goalkeeper Paul Doughty and scored a textbook goal.
Paradise lost the fluency they had earlier in the opening half as they were unable to string together passes with the accuracy and precision they are known to demonstrate.
Both teams were strong in the midfield as senior national players Jomo Harris and Ackeel Applewhaite of Paradise took on Empire’s pair of Abiola Grant and Brazilian Luan Camargo.
Paradise won themselves a penalty taken by the league-leading goal scorer Armando “Suga” Lashley with ten goals to his name.
Lashley scored in the 74th minute but at that stage, Empire had already registered two goals and Paradise badly needed to equalize or win but never did.
In the opening match, Clayton’s Kola Tonic Notre Dame brushed off last week’s 12-0 disgrace to BDFSP with a 6-2 victory against Barbados Soccer Academy (BSA).
National Under-20 player Dishon ‘Eto’ Howell netted a hat-trick with goals in the 25th, 80th and 90+3rd for the Bayland-based Notre Dame side. The other contributors were Azariel Croney in the 28th, Zeco Edmee in the 45th and Dwayne Mars in the 65th minute respectively.
Scoring for BSA were Angelo Ward in the 19th minute and Dwayne Leacock in the 26th period.
Meanwhile, in the second game of the evening, defending champions and zone one leader Weymouth Wales won 3-0 against Brittons Hill.
Stefan Batson scored the lone goal in the 31st minute of the opening half and Romario Harewood (64th) and Kemar Headley (79th) were the other two scorers in the second half.
Wales are on 20 points in the zone one standings ahead of University of the West Indies Blackbirds on 18 in the second position followed by Notre Dame on 11 in third place.