By Dominique R. Stowe
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua — Team SVG recorded their first victory in the 2014 Caribbean Cup with a hard-fought win over the fit and skillful Dominican Republic at the Antigua Recreation Ground on Monday.
The game started very fast with both teams trying to gain possession on a very fast outfield. Twelve minutes into the game, the small figure of Oalex “Bounty” Anderson missed a square back from Nazir McBurnette and skied it over the bar.
Team SVG began to settle with Myron Samuel, Nazir McBurnette, Emerald “Monkey” George and Oalex Anderson linking almost every attacking play in the final third. And in the 27th minutes of play, in the final 3rd, Nazir was set free on the right side with a true ball from Emerald George. Trickery worked and a tremendous square back met Myron Samuel in the six yards area and the empty goal, only for him to hit the ball wide of the goal.
The small crowd at the Southern End of the Richie Richardson Pavilion moored in anguish.
After, Team SVG’s defence, which was well marshalled by the slim and aggressive central defender Kevin “Bobbing” Francis and the robust and no-nonsense Shorn”Barrow” Lowman, both of Avenues FC, intercepted some dangerous passes in the final third by the alert DR players to keep the game neutral.
But in the 45th minutes of play, just on the stroke of half time, the dead lock was broken by the ever present Oalex “Bounty” Anderson of Barroullie, who, in combination with Emerald George and Myron Samuel, eluded two tackles on the edge of the 18-yard box and then coolly beat the onrushing goalkeeper for an easy tap in to give Team SVG the lead.
The Dominican Republic started the second half heading towards the southern goal with a sense of purpose and they were denied a goal from 40 yards out from a powerful free, as Dwaine “Tall-man” Sandy, presently playing professional in Guyana, tipped it over the cross bar full stretch.
After that free kick, Team SVG was rattled and chalked up 5 yellow cards between the 56th minute and 66th minute due to poor timing by the five players, which result in the cautions.
In the 68th minute of play, hearts were in Team SVG’s collective mouth when a free kick was struck with tremendous power by the most outstanding player on the DR team, which struck the crossbar, allowing Team SVG breathe easy again.
Team SVG missed two clear chances on the break to put the game away, only for the DR to dominate the last 10 minutes of the game, hindered by Team SVG’s young and diehard defence, aided by Dwaine Sandy, who had an outstanding 90+ minutes in goal.
At the final whistle, the three diamonds, blue, gold and green stood victorious.
Team SVG played a brave and courageous game by playing for each other as coach Cornelius Huggins stood on the touchline proudly, against a well-drilled, experienced team with overseas base players from Spain and MLS League.
The discipline of the team took them over the first huddle of what promises to be a keen competition.
The next game will be played at the Antigua Recreation Ground on Friday at 5 p.m. against Anguilla, who were beaten 6-0 by the powerful Antiguans, who are sporting five UK-based players, one MLS and three players base with Caledonia in Trinidad pro league.