by EZRA STUARTUNBELIEVABLE and unsatisfactory!
Barbados’ football plummeted to a new low as Dominica emphatically swept the two-match friendly international series at the National Stadium on Sunday night.
After Saturday’s historic 2-0 victory, the team from the Land of Many Rivers were overflowing with joy with a come-fro-behind 3-1 thrashing of the Bajan Tridents.
What made the two losses – a mere ten days ahead of the first Digicel group qualifier in St Vincent – even more disheartening and disgraceful was that the Dominicans, lightweights in Caribbean soccer, won for the first time against opponents ranked 57 places above them and in their backyard.
In eight previous matches between the teams, dating back to 1994, Barbados had won six and drawn two while scoring 14 goals and conceding three.
Even though the team is without a technical advisor, there can be no excuses this time as Barbados’ coach Thomas Jordan fielded his strongest line-up.
Striker Curlson Benjamin was a thorn in Barbados’ side with a hat-trick in the 35th, 45th and 74th after Mario Harte had given Barbados a 1-0 lead after 21 minutes.
Former captain John “Nobby” Parris joined Barry Skeete in the centre of the defence while wingbacks, the experienced Bryan Neblett and Omar Neblett started.
Jeffrey Williams and the recalled Rudy Grosvenor started as the wide midfield players on the right and left side respectively, with captain Norman Forde in the centre while Harte, started upfront with the goal-shy Riviere Williams.
Barbados looked a lot more purposeful in the first 20 minutes as they dominated Dominica with superior ball possession while stringing together passes and distributing the ball cleverly.
Grosvenor was a live-wire with some speedy runs down the left side but Barbados still lacked the clinical finish as Neblett and Riviere Williams wasted opportunities after getting free inside the penalty area. The 32-year-old impressed with his twists and turns and it was from one of his runs which resulted in Harte giving Barbados the lead in the 21st minute with an easy tap-in after a melee in the Dominica six-yard box. But everything soon fell apart and their impressive play fizzled out as Dominica equalised with a swift counter-attack from a Barbados corner.
Lester Langlais quickly pushed a loose ball to Benjamin, who sped past Burgess in the centre of the field and won a race with Neblett towards goalkeeper Alvin Rouse.
Rouse hesitated in coming off his line to challenge the speedy Dominican striker, who easily slotted to make it 1-1 in the 35th minute.Not even the replacement of their inspirational goal-keeping captain Glenson Prince due to a bleeding nose by Owen Oscar, weakened Dominica.
It seemed to have fortified them as on the stroke of half-time, Benjamin delivered another telling blow with a solo effort. The 25-year-old Bath-estate resident danced his way around the Barbados defence on the right side of the penalty area, before expertly placing his left foot shot into Rouse’s far corner for a 2-1 half-time lead.
And shortly after Benjamin put the final nail in Barbados’ coffin. Parris shrugged off his marker, who was holding his shirt, but then with plenty of time and space, inexplicably made a weak back pass to Rouse.
Rouse had averted danger from a similar play earlier but this time, an elert Benjamin intercepted and calmly buried his gift goal.