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Hard lesson for Learning

Ezra Stuart

Hard lesson for Learning

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Higher Learning passed Part one1 of the test in the first half but weren’t able to get full marks as they failed the final examination in the second half.
It was a hard lesson to learn as they squandered a two-goal cushion and allowed Barbados Steel Works Top Bay Settlers to earn a hard-fought 2-2 draw in the feature match of the LIME Pelican Football Challenge at the National Stadium on Sunday night.
The result pushed Top Bay Settlers to five points and left Higher Learning rooted at the bottom of the group on a solitary point.
Higher Learning initially made Settlers pay for some selfish play and inept finishing from striker Mustafa Haqq, when Dario Wilson gave them a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. Wilson easily slotted home a weak clearance from goalkeeper Bernard Howell, who tried to punch away a corner.
The speedy Haqq, who had a casual left-foot shot blocked by goalkeeper Romayne Primus in the first ten minutes, wasted a second chance to redeem himself when he went for personal glory.
Faced with empty goalbars, after taking out the advancing Primus, Haqq hit his shot onto the left post instead of passing to waiting teammates Arantes Lawrence and Curtis Odle in the penalty area.
Higher Learning doubled their lead in the 39th minute through Peter Stoute, who made a quick turn and hammered his shot high into the nets after Lionel Paul, positioned wide on the right side of midfield, drilled a loose ball from a corner across the goalmouth.
Haqq missed a third chance when he headed an Odle cross wide and it was déjà-vu at the other end, with Wilson also choosing not to pass to an unmarked teammate after a two-on-one fast-break by Higher Learning.
To add insult to injury, Wilson was injured by Howell’s challenge and had to be substituted.
Top Bay Settlers, with Kent Hall opting to coach from the bench instead of performing the dual role as coach/player, fought back admirably in the second half with the evergreen Gregory “Lalu” Goodridge leading attack after attack as he repeatedly went past Tito Jones on the left side.
The Settlers were awarded a penalty in the 62nd minute for a foul by Randy Burrowes on Lawrence. After a little delay, Haqq calmly converted, placing his spot-kick into Primus’ left corner.
Shortly after, a stinging shot by Odle was also blocked by Primus and the rebound fell to Nicholas King but he rushed the shot.
A corner by Goodridge was also cleared off the line by Jones.
With Higher Learning fortifying their defence by bringing on the rugged Shane Hinkson and Chavez Lloyd, Hall made a master substitution when he replaced defender Nicholas Collymore with a fourth striker in Ryan “Shaky” Griffith.
A free kick by Goodridge was headed on and Griffith secured the draw in the first minute of injury time by hooking the ball over Primus.
In the opening game, unbeaten Nu Look 360 Connection handed TS Strikers their second straight loss with a 2-1 triumph to move to the top of their group on five points.
Dwayne Stanford atoned for a few early misses to open the scoring in the 38th minute when he capitalized on a defensive blunder to hit past goalkeeper Omari Eastmond, who had twice blocked goal-bound efforts.
TS Strikers’ Jabarry Chandler equalized on the stroke of half-time, easily tapping home a right-side cross from Jason Blackman with his left foot that 360 Connection’s custodian Kerry Holder, who had earlier thwarted Rico Baptiste with his legs, was unable to stop.
Midfielder Anthony Cumberbatch got the winning goal for 360 Connection in the 60th minute. He beat Eastmond to his left after sweeping past left wing back Andrew Tudor.
Holder was again 360 Connection’s hero, denying Jamal Chandler a couple of times and also easily saving a header from substitute Jason Goodridge.