By Morissa Lindsay
A second-half goal by national striker and substitute Keon Atkins was not enough to stop host Guadeloupe from clinching a 2-1 victory over Barbados at the Estadio René Serge Nabajoth last night in the CONCACAF Nations League.
Faced with a must win situation, the Barbados Tridents while registering their first goal of the CONCACAF Nations League in Group A of League B thanks to Atkins, it was not sufficient to stop Guadeloupe from extending Barbados’ losing streak. The Tridents now face the real possibility of demotion to League C.
Last Thursday at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in St. Lucia, Guadeloupe defeated the Russell Latapy-coached Barbados Tridents 1-0 and once again last night dominated with two first-half goals from forwards Thierry Ambrose and Matthias Jean Phaëton in their encounter.
The teams in this group will play each other twice, and Tridents, captained by Hadan Holligan so far are the worst performers as they have yet to win
a match so far.
Coach Latapy made six changes to his starting lineup from the last game and within the first six minutes of play yesterday Guadeloupe scored off the boot of forward Ambrose with a burst of speed down the left, who made contact with a square ball from Nathanael Saintini and buried the ball into the top roof of the goal bar.
That was Ambrose’s second goal against Barbados in this competition having scored the lone winner last Thursday when the two sides met. Credit to Guadeloupe centre-back Saintini for setting up that goal with sufficient breathing room to produce a well-placed pass over to the left and there was Ambrose to finish the job.
Just when things couldn’t get much worse for the Tridents, they conceded yet another goal in the 26th minute through a penalty awarded by the centre referee Melvin Matamoros of Honduras.
He deemed that Barbadian defender Krystian Pearce who plies his trade professionally, brought down dangerman Ambrose inside the area.
Guadeloupe forward Matthias Jean Phaeton who was born in France stepped up to take the penalty and hammered it past Barbados’ number one
goalkeeper Kishmar Primus.
Shortly after in the 40th minute it could have been 3-0 but Primus just before halftime put his body on the line for a great save to deny Guadeloupe’s utility player Saintini who looked good on the ball at crucial times.
Barbados’ offence was perplexingly quiet as the likes of Captain Holligan and Omani Leacock, the top two leading attacking midfielders, did not apply the type of offensive pressure needed. Conversely, Guadeloupe’s attackers had Barbados’ defenders scrambling on numerous occasions as they led 2-0 at halftime.
It would take something special from the Tridents to recover from that huge setback with a number of substitutions by coach Latapy in the second half. Substitute Keon Atkins found the answer with a header off a set piece in the 58th minute.
Atkins did well to connect with a corner kick sent in by Leacock as he eluded the defence to head the ball into the top left corner.
Shortly after that goal a tussle between the two teams began after some physicality and referee Matamoros tried his best to quickly calm the situation.
Eventually, things settled after a few yellow cards were dished out and with just 15 minutes left before regular time, captain Holligan was replaced by the exciting forward Tajio James who has created a couple of goal opportunities in this tournament but was unable to find the back of the nets.
With a goal in reach for a possible draw, the Tridents’ offence gave it all they had and almost made it 2-2 when Atkins narrowly missed out on a brace after failing to connect on another header.
Desperate for the equaliser, coach Latapy also brought on striker Armando ‘ Suga’ Lashley in place of defender Ricardo Morris with four minutes to go before regular time. Guadeloupe also made some changes of their own as both coaches clearly had the same approach to bring on fresh legs to keep their chances alive in the game.
A poor decision by national defender Akeem Hill to attack Gregory Gendrey from the rear by grabbing the back of his shirt and pulling him down resulted in a red card on the stroke of regular time. With Barbados being at a numerical disadvantage at this stage, the pressure began to mount and that was evident in their approach as five minutes of added time was granted but Tridents failed to secure the equaliser and suffered their fourth straight loss of the tournament.