A magnificent goal from international forward Nicholas Blackman ensured the Senior Barbados Tridents captured a 1-0 victory over the United States Virgin Islands Dashing Eagles in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Nations League.
In the all-important encounter played last night at the Barbados Football Association’s Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf, the Bajan Tridents controlled the game throughout and earned themselves three points to move six-points top of Group A in League C of the competition.
Coming into yesterday’s match both teams were tied on three points each. And, that brilliant 25-yard right-foot curler by Blackman in the 55th minute into the left upright, past USVI goalkeeper Lionel Brown, from a Hadan Holligan takedown, was sufficient for the win.
Head coach of the Barbados team, Russell Latapy was satisfied with Tridents’ performance and explained that his men were a work in progress and were gradually getting the results they sought.
“When we spoke on Thursday I mentioned that if I score one more goal than the other team I’d be happy. So, I am delighted at the present time that we did. I thought that it was a very difficult game, USVI came and they sat in and made it very difficult for us to break them down. I thought that we controlled the game from pretty much start to finish. We need to execute a little better and be a bit more clinical with the chances we create so we can have an easier finish to the games. But all in all it is still a process and we are getting better with every game that we play. I was happy with the organisation, the structure and the discipline of the players but I know where we are and I think that we are getting better with every game,” Latapy said.
There were some notable changes to the Tridents squad with Akeem Hill given the opportunity to lead the island for the first time in place of fellow Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme player Rashad Jules who did not start but came on in the second half.
Hill and fellow defender Ricardo Morris played in place of Kaeson Trench [red card] and Carl Hinkson [two yellow] while Ackeel Applewhaite who did not play at home against Saint Maarten was also drafted in and played well at left attacking midfield while fellow Paradise club mate Armando ‘Suga’ Lashley took care of business on that end.
Those two offered great support to Israel-based international forward Blackman at centre forward as Tridents played a strong attacking game.
USVI did not only have to contend with Blackman, Lashley and Applewhaite in the final third but also had a tough time keeping Hadan Holligan, Jomo Harris and Omani Leacock quiet in the middle where those three also controlled the plays well. Leacock and Harris should have had a goal to their names in the first half especially but went hard at the target and ended up missing.
The diminutive Leacock managed to escape the defensive grip of USVI and took aim from inside the 18-yard box past two defenders but luckily for USVI, the ball struck the right post of the goal bar in the 27th minute and Blackman stationed behind Leacock was unable to get a touch on the rebound. Additionally, Harris also had a good game and produced a blinder from top of the 18-yard box but went just wide of the target.
USVI lost possession frequently in the midfield but created a few close opportunities especially with a strike from James Mack that just eased past the target as the opening half ended goalless.
After that early goal in the second half from Blackman, he missed out on a few others and among them was an appeal from the Tridents bench for a penalty kick after USVI defender Kassall Greene brought down the six-footer inside the danger zone but referee Benjamin Pineda Avila thought differently. Following that Blackman was unable to convert another free-kick opportunity which would have placed the Tridents in a solid position heading into Tuesday’s away game in USVI.
After USVI committed several fouls just outside the 18-yard box and Tridents were unable to capitalise, coach Latapy decided to bring Rashad Jules and Ranaldo Trim off the bench in the 73rd minute in place of Holligan and Applewhaite. Right away those two along with T’shane Lorde in place of an injured Armando Lashley brought lots of energy on attack especially Jules running at the opposition’s backline.
Even though Jules and Lorde brought fresh legs to the contest and teamed up trying to produce Barbados’ second goal, they were superbly denied by the heroics of USVI goalkeeper Lionel Brown with a fantastic right-foot clearance off Lorde’s delivery.
USVI coach Giberto Damiano expressed confidence of winning at home when they host Barbados this Tuesday at the Bethlehem Soccer Stadium in St. Croix.
“… Both teams they played at their strength. At the end of the day there is always one team that comes at the top. It was a lovely free-kick and we now have to think about the next game. We now know how we can explore Barbados, we now know how we can stretch them and try to make the best out of the next game,” he said. (ML)