The Bajan Tridents were able to stop the USVI Dashing Eagles from soaring last night, with a spectacular second-half free-kick courtesy striker Nick Blackman in the 55th minute.
Playing in their third Concacaf Nation’s League encounter, the Barbados Football Association’s senior men’s team are now back in the driver’s seat having secured a much-needed victory at the Wildey Turf.
Captain for the night, 22-year-old Akeem Hill, stepped up to the plate and commanded the home side with poise and flair, as though he was made for the role.
The Israel-based Blackman stepped up to the ball from about 28 yards out, and nonchalantly sailed the ball over the wall of USVI players pocketing into the top of the left corner. While the Dashing Eagles goalie Lionel Brown took a dive for the ball, he was not quick enough on the draw.
Before the lone goal of the night that sent the home crowd into a frenzy, Haden Holligan made a clinical error in the 25th minute when he ended up deep in USVI territory, knocking one off the post in the danger zone.
USVI had some chances, which they failed to capitalize on, but they managed to pressure the Tridents, proving that recent changes to their squad were to their advantage. And while the Tridents had six shots on target, in comparison to USVI’s one, the ball went just wide of its mark.
Following Blackman’s left-footed free-kick midway into the second-half substitutes T-Shane Lorde and Rashad Jules had a good run up the left flank. Lorde crossed to Jules, who sent the ball inside the box to Lashley, but the latter’s header was stopped by a resolute Brown who was adamant that nothing was getting past him after the home side’s goal.
At the post-game press conference, Tridents’ Head Coach Russell Latapy said while he was happy for the win, USVI was a difficult team to beat.
“USVI came and sat in and made it very difficult for us to break them down. I thought we controlled the game pretty much from start to finish, but 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 games,” he said.
Meanwhile, USVI’s striker JC Mack, while describing Blackman’s free-kick as “quality” said he was proud of his team’s performance.
“We knew if we made one mistake Barbados has the quality to do things like that. It was a little bit painful, but what I loved about our team, and it’s something we brought with the new staff and the new vibe of our island is, when something happens we don’t go into our shell. We say how do we fix this; what do we do now? And that’s something from this game that I am very proud of.
“If you remember the last time we came here, we played really well for a long time and once one mistake happened; boom, boom, boom. And it turned out to be three. Today one mistake happened and we started to shake and we started to get more opportunities. So I am very proud of our guys for changing the mentality and what we’re doing with our program,” he said.
This victory now puts the Tridents at the top of Group A with six points in League C following (French) Saint Martin’s 3-0 flogging of the Cayman Islands Turtles earlier in the day.
“We see in the first game today what happened, which was a much unexpected result for us. I was happy that we were able to capitalize on that and now we are back in the driving seat and our destiny is in our hands,” Latapy said resolutely.
The Tridents leave the island today to play in the return game against USVI in St Croix on Tuesday.