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Brittons Hill, Wales clash in League opener

Renaldo Gilkes

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It is finally here! The 2012 Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) Digicel Premier League will kick off today with a double header at the National Stadium after the parade of teams at 3 p.m.
In the opening encounter at 6 p.m., new boys Gatorade/KDG Auto Parts Dayrells Road will get their feet wet against Bagatelle, who just managed to survive relegation last season, while the feature match will be a mouth-watering clash between neighbours Mackeson Brittons Hill and ICE Wales.
Dayrells Road will be seeking to impress in their maiden season among the big boys and are quite capable of staging what one would consider an upset in this fixture.
Their roster consists of a number of players with Premiership and national experience. Custodian Andre Small comes over from Meridian Castrol Youth Milan, after missing last season. He played brilliantly in the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Council Football Classic, leading The City of Bridgetown to the title.
Small will be protected by the diminutive but powerful national defender Jomo Brathwaite, who is known for his ability to read the game, command his troops and the blistering speed he usually displays when he comes over to cover his wingbacks.
Accompanying Brathwaite in the defence will be the attack-minded Chavez Lloyd at right back, who has the capability to score as well. On the other side of defence will be another attacking player, in former Oxley and Notre Dame left wing back Christopher Sealy.
Dayrells Road’s strength lies in their midfield where they are usually very compact, aggressive and cohesive, with Ryan James and John Stoute forming a towering pair. These two are expected to sit more defensively to allow playmaker Brian Bynoe and the newly acquired fleet-footed Curtis Odle to roam and create chances for their popular strike pair of Quincy Atherley and Tristan “Fishy” Parris.
Bagatelle’s back line will again be marshalled by Nicholas Collymore and he will need all the support he can get to deal with the power and trickery of Atherley and Parris, who are likely to give goalkeeper Mario Albert a good workout.
Nicholas “Alan” King’s experience and leadership will be needed in midfield as he has lost a player of similar quality in Kirk Best, who has transferred to Wales.
It will be interesting to see if former youth national defender/midfielder Jermaine Best is positioned in that vacancy.
Bagatelle’s greatest concern is in the striking department. With Arantes Lawrence returning to Brittons Hill and the likelihood of losing St Lucian international Zaeehaeus Polius, Bagatelle may be forced to play a rather inefficient and inexperienced front line of six-footers Andre Pinder and Jamar Grazettes, who are likely to have a hard day at the office against an aggressive Dayrells Road defence.
This encounter is expected to be filled with near misses and one goal may make the difference. That one goal could come from the new boys on the block, giving them their first taste of a victory in the Premiership.
The feature match sees last season’s third- and fourth-place teams lock horns, as well as a rematch of coaching wits and tactics between two of the island’s most outstanding coaches.
This time, Lennux Ferdinand of Brittons Hill will be looking to avenge his defeat in the LIME Pelican Challenge final by upstaging 2011 Coach Of The Year Eric Alleyne.
Wales have made some valuable additions to their already unified squad. In defence, Corey McCollin formerly of Ellerton, who played under Alleyne during the Pelican Challenge, fills a void at left wing back as midfielder Duwayne Peters was often used in that position. His tenacious style of playing along with his stamina and intriguing passing add another attacking option for Wales.
Jabar Greene has improved with every season to be one of the better midfielders in the island and if he works on his attitude issues which marred him in the past, Wales can possibly go all the way.
With a supporting cast of Paul “Soup” Lovell, Corey Griffith and new transfer Best, Wales can boast a balanced midfield.
Dwayne Stanford is a threat for any defence. All he needs is a yard of space to put anyone’s lights out, therefore Gregory “Lalu” Goodridge will have to mark him closely or assign strict marking duties to either Ryan Straughn or Luther Watson. However, if too much attention is on Stanford, this will allow Dwayne “Killa” McClean some space to operate and as his nickname suggests, he will definitely put you away.
Brittons Hill also boast an elite group of forwards with the likes of Riviere Williams, Walton Burrowes and Henderson Richards having represented Barbados at the International level, along with Lawrence, who is seen as a direct replacement for the nomadic Ricky Barnes.
Brittons Hill’s liability is in midfield as they do not possess a real “No. 10” to create opportunities for their forwards or score goals from behind the forwards. Jeffrey Williams’ energy and work rate is commendable but he lacks that attacking support and that cutting edge to carve open defences, especially one as stubborn as Wales, marshalled by Julian Mottley and Shawn Clarke.
Predicting a winner in this game is a tough call as both teams are filled with quality and are led by noble tacticians who have perfected their craft.
My prediction is an entertaining 1-1 draw.