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Bajans win

Dominican defender Kurlson Benjamin (fourth left) deflects this free kick past his own goalkeeper Glenson Prince.

Barbados got their Caribbean Football Union Cup campaign off to a positive start with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Dominica at Kensington Oval last night.

The game was played in driving rain for much of the first half and this made conditions extremely difficult, especially in the pitch area in the middle of the field and often forced both teams to concentrate a high percentage of the action on the flanks. Passes on the surface through the middle of the field frequently went awry as the ball died in the muddy conditions.

The early exchanges saw some relatively good build-up play but offensive efforts for the most part broke down outside the box on both sides of the field. Barbados had the better of the early play with Kemar Headley and captain Jefffey Williams catching the eye for Barbados.

There were few opportunities but one came after about 25 minutes of play when a pass to Tristan Parris in a dangerous position just outside the Dominican area was met with indecision by Parris and he was quickly closed down by the defence. Parris had a generally disappointing night. Barbados’ winning goal in the 35th

minute came somewhat fortuitously. Following a foul infringement left of goal just metres outside the area, Ramuel Miller’s direct free-kick deflected off the head of the dreadlocked Dominican defender Kurlson Benjamin at the far post and gave no chance to captain and goalkeeper Glenson Prince who was also positioned at the far post.

There was a bit of scrappy play leading up the half-time whistle, most of which was as a result of the conditions. Dominica missed one good opportunity to score when Joel Etienne Clarke blasted over the bar from close range following a bit of a melee in the Barbados box.

Dominica noticeably stepped up the intensity of their play in the second-half with Barbados strangely sitting back on defence. Some opportunities for the visitors went a begging. Barbados’ goalkeeper Jason Boxill came off his line to make a clearance, fluffed the attempt, and allowed Chad Bertrand through but Barry Skeete’s timely interception saved the day for the hosts. Skeete was a tour of strength in the defensive wall and was arguably the home side’s man-of-the-match.

A through pass to an on-rushing Headley looked an excellent opportunity for him to put Barbados two-up half- way into the second-half but once again the finishing was lacking, even as Dominica’s last two defenders found themselves woefully out of position. A bit more enterprise by Dominica might have paid some dividends as Barbados went flat in the last ten minutes of the game often leaving gaping holes in defence but with Skeete taking up most of the slack they held on for the win at the final whistle. Barbados substituted Parris (Kyle Gibson), Mario Harte (Malcolm Marshall) and Headley (Jason Lovell) in the second half. Gibson had his moments on the wing but was often as indecisive in his play as Parris had earlier been.

In the first match of the evening Aruba and the Dominican Republic played to a 2-2 draw with Raymond Baten (6th) and Rensy Barradas (30th) netting for Aruba and Erick Lopez getting a brace (13th and 76th) for the Dominican Republic. In a post-match media briefing Barbados coach Colin Forde expressed pleasure in his team’s win and their play generally. He said his squad adapted well to the difficult conditions and

were forced to play most of their possessions wide rather than down the middle of the field because of the affected pitch area.

Forde noted that it was important that the Barbados team remained “calm and focused” as the leg progressed and they would do fine over the next few days.

Dominican coach Kirt Hector too stated that conditions were not the easiest but complimented his team for also adapting well to them. He said that after falling behind in the first-half his side never gave up trying for the equaliser and “fought very hard” right to the end.

Steady rain throughout the day not only affected game conditions but apparently had a damper on crowd attendance as well.

Tomorrow Barbados play the Dominican Republic at 8 p.m. and Dominica take on Aruba in the first match at 6 p.m.

Barbados squad: Jeffrey Williams (cpt), Jason Boxill, Barry Skeete, Ramar Miller, Jamo Brathwaite, Kyle Gibson, Raheim Sargeant, Carl Joseph, Ranaldo Marques, Mario Harte, Kemar Headley, Tristan Parris, Sebastian Hunte, Malcolm Marshall, Jason Lovell, Ramuel Miller, Armando Lashley, Ricardo Morris, Andre Bourne, Kerry Holder. (WG)

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