22nd March 2016
Caribbean Cup Qualifier, First Round
Providence Stadium, Providence, Guyana
Guyana 7-0 Anguilla
Anguilla were soundly beaten and outclassed in their opening Caribbean Cup qualifier in Guyana yesterday, struggling from the off against a Guyana side that kept them at arm’s length throughout.
Guyana are the team who inflicted Anguilla’s record defeat – a 14-0 thumping in 1998 – and at times during the first half in particular, it appeared as though the record books may be troubled again.
Dwight Peters opened the scoring for Guyana in the 11th minute latching on to a pass from Vurnon Millls, before Christopher Nurse added a second with a fine header from a Neil Danns corner just three minutes later. The first ten minutes probably represented Anguilla’s best of the match, if that isn’t an obvious statement given it was the only period Anguilla weren’t trailing.
But it was also the only period where they were able to get a hold of the ball for any spell at all, other than the occasional and brief foray forwards. Thereafter, the superior Golden Jaguars of Guyana restricted Anguilla to no more than a handful of passes on the rare occasions they gained possession before snatching it back and launching frequent raids on Kasem Thompson’s goal.
Luckily for Thompson, many of the shots raining in on his goal were off target though he was called into action frequently. Peters added a third with another header on the half hour before Danns fired in the fourth moments later. Gregory Richardson, who apparently goes by the nickname “Jackie Chan” made it 5-0 on the stroke of half-time, as Anguilla must have been fearing a real drubbing.
But following the experienced lead of the Anguillan captain Kevin Hawley, our intrepid islanders rallied and fared a bit better in the second half. Not in terms of attacking intent sadly – they recorded no shots on goal in the entire match – but at least in terms of harrying the Guyana players and avoiding the kind of loss that appeared inevitable at times.
Just two more strikes found their way into Thompson’s net, Mills adding his own second shortly after the interval before Thompson was unable to hold on to a fierce effort from Devon Millington, with the rebound netted by substitute Marcel Barrington for a 7-0 lead in the 65th minute.
Kevin Hawley’s influence was vital after that as he helped ensure his less experienced colleagues kept going all the way to the end, avoiding a potentially soul destroying defeat. 7-0 is bad, but it could easily have been a lot worse. A double-digit loss would have been devastating to the likes of 15-year-old Keanu Richardson, who made his international debut in this match; a sign of the new process of squad renewal being undertaken by Anguilla.
Hawley commented afterwards: “In the second half we were able to regain our composure and play a much more fruitful game. Overall, we have building blocks; this is only our second game in the last six weeks, we have not been together for a very long time but there are lots of positives to take from the game.”
Next up are Puerto Rico, and in typical Caribbean style, a last minute change of schedule and structure means that what was previously billed as three matches in Guyana now sees each country hosting one fixture. Anguilla will host Puerto Rico on Saturday 26th March in The Valley, before Guyana travel to Puerto Rico to complete the group next Tuesday.
As pointed out to me on Twitter Anguilla nay have lost on the pitch but they are the winners off it in terms of beauty. Maybe so. If only the national team could muster up something even half as stunning as their island they might be on to a winner…