By E. Glenford Prescott
St. Vincent and the Grenadines moved a step closer to winning the Windward Islands Football Association’s 2015 Men’s title after beating host and defending champions, St. Lucia 2-1 in front of a boisterous crowd at the Philip Marcellin Grounds in Vieux Fort.
The victory puts SVG on a maximum 6 points after beating Grenada 3-2 in their opening match on Tuesday. They will need only a draw today in their final match against Dominica to take the title. Dominica are on four points after beating Grenada last evening and holding St. Lucia to a draw on Tuesday.
On Thursday SVG made two changes to the team which beat Grenada with one forced, owing to the suspension of captain Dorren Hamlet.
His place goes to Vasbert Ledger and the other for productivity with the wasteful Denis Prescott being replaced by Nazir McBurnette.
Reports say that SVG moved very early to stamp their authority on the game and silence the vocal home support.
The SVG bench was forced to make some tinkering of their formation with the absence of the indefatigable Hamlet with the coaching choosing the cautious system of 4-5-1.
Just after the quarter hour mark, SVG’s Emerald “Monkey” George hit an aerial pass to Myron Samuel but the striker misdirected his pass to Kyle Edwards, which was collected by the goalkeeper.
With the play getting somewhat scrappy in the middle period it was the home team that came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute with a long-range shot, which rebounded off the crossbar.
And with the crowd still expressing anguish over the near miss, the “Piton Boys” gave the home fans a chance to lift the cork by taking the lead in the 38th minute after being the more assertive unit in the final 15 minutes leading up to the half-time whistle.
The goal reportedly came after a free-kick caught the tall Roy Richards out of position, which was picked up by Romiel Felix who beat an on rushing Winslow McDowall through his legs.
The SVG bench on half time took out the still out of sorts Damal Francis and gave Prescott a reprieve and then reverted to the tried and tested 4-4-2 formation with the latter joining Samuel in attack and George being the distributor from the spark plugs.
The combustion chamber, then with the ideal mixture, harnessed the kinetic energy then set about moving forward with purpose.
But there were still some misfiring as was the case in the 52nd minute when a build up between Edwards, Samuel and Ledger ended with Ledger muffing his shot in front of the goal.
Nazir McBurnette was replaced by Juma Jilkes on the hour and within three minutes he failed to convert what should have been an easy opportunity inside the area.
SVG came close to drawing level on several occasions but were haunted once more by the poor finishing of their strikers.
SVG then made their final substation when Shavel Cunningham was inserted for a fatigued Edwards in the 70th minute.
With time running out and the crowd getting more vocal and the St. Lucian players taking every opportunity to run the clock down, SVG drew level in the 75th minute.
The play reportedly started with Richards in the left-back position who found “SVG’s JEWEL” George with a long pass which he controlled then struck a swerving left-shot past the diving St. Lucia custodian and silence the crowd.
Five minutes from time, with the crowd still fuming, SVG went ahead with what was the match-winning goal through Samuel.
He collected a pass from George, conquered two defenders before hitting another curving shot into the St. Lucia goal to set off a three phase emotion at the Philip Marcellin Grounds in Vieux Fort; jubilation from the SVG players, disappointment from their St. Lucian counterparts and anger from the two thousand strong partisan crowd.
In the early game Dominica with goals from Julian Wade and Glenworth Elizee beat Grenada 2-1 after going behind.
Cassim Langaigne had given the Grenadian the lead in the 15th minute but Wade brought Dominica level three minutes later.
The winning goal came from Elizee in the 81st minute, which was his second goal of the tournament.
St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica are meeting today in a match to decide the winners of the tournament and this will be followed by Grenada taking on St. Lucia.