GROUP A, MATCH 2: PUERTO RICO 3, ANGUILLA 1 – Hosts of the Digicel Caribbean Cup Group A on flying start
In front of a partisan crowd, hosts of the Digicel Cup Group A got off to a vital winning start. Puerto Rico are favourites to top this group and showed exactly why in the opening exchanges. Although dominating possession throughout they did stutter a bit in the second half and gave their fans some nervous moments when the score was at 2-1. Indeed the Anguilla team expressed their disappointment in the post match press conference for not getting a penalty when the referee awarded a free kick for a challenge that appeared extremely close to the edge of the square. It would have been their second penalty and Head Coach Scott Cooper commented that “it is very difficult for a referee to award two penalties to the same team in a match…..it takes a very brave referee to do just that.”
While the pitch conditions were again difficult Puerto Rico made light of this, they demonstrated a top class passing game, and showed composure on the ball at every position on the field. At times it the first half, Anguilla must have felt like they were chasing shadows. After a period of sustained pressure and a number of chances Puerto Rico’s first goal came on 27 minutes when Joshua Hansen curled an outstanding free kick from the edge of the area over the wall into the back of the net. Liddie Ryan in the Anguilla goal was stuck to the spot.
It was much of the same after the goal and their 2nd came on 31 minutes from an excellent passing interchange down the left, when the ball was centered for Christopher Megaloudis he had enough space and time to make the finish look relatively simple.
It was not until the 42nd minute when Anguilla got their first shot at the Puerto Rico goal. It was well off target, so at half-time, the question seemed to be just how many Puerto Rico could score.
While Puerto Rico had the majority of possession again in the 2nd period it was a more competitive display from Anguilla. Coach Copper must have had a few words at half-time because they did impose themselves on proceedings far more. The played with greater intensity and didn’t let the Puerto Rican’s have as much time on the ball. On 53 minutes they got their reward when Adonijah Richardson scored from the penalty spot. Anguilla played much better again following the goal, in addition to their penalty shout had a dangerous free kick whipped in from the right that caused some anxious moments in front of goal for Puerto Rico, the strength and power from Anguilla at the set piece was impressive.
Puerto Rico were far more comfortable going forward and continued to attack down the flanks in particular. Andres Cabrero was causing damage down the right with his counterpart Noah Delgado doing much the same on the left. They created a number of chances for the front men Joshua Hansen and Christopher Megaloudis but Ryan in the Anguilla goal was a match to everything thrown at him, as he pulled off a string of top quality saves. The longer it stayed at 2-1 the more nervous and anxious the home support got. They were finally put at ease when Megaloudis pounced on a bouncing ball in the penalty area to volley a shot high into the top left hand corner, an excellent finish from the striker.
The goal saw off the Anguilla challenge. They will need to bounce back quickly, in tournament play there is no time to dwell on defeats and over analyse the situation, a sentiment also expressed by Captain Ian Edwards when he said “we must take the positives from the performance and immediately focus on the next match versus Cayman on Monday”.
Adrian Whitbread Puerto Rico’s Head Coach for the evening, due to Colin Clarke being away with the Islanders, commented on how satisfied he was with his sides first half display, “we knocked the ball about very well (in the first half) and played some fantastic football”, he also went on to say, “maybe we could have been more clinical in from of goal but the team has only been together for a very short period before tonight’s match.” So Puerto Rico feel that they will get stronger, with more time to prepare and with head coach Colin Clarke returning they will be a formidable opponent. They will be looking to advance to the Digicel Cup Stage 2 as winners of the Group and if they can bring more of a cutting edge in front of goal it would take a brave person to bet against them taking top spot and progressing right through the qualifying rounds.
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Puerto Rico: 1. Terence Boss 3. Richard Martinez 5. Noah Delgado (Capt.) 6. Alexis Rivera 8. Andres Cabrero (78 minutes 7. Tyler Wilson) 10. Peter Villegas (85 minutes 16. Isaac Nieves) 11. Christopher Megaloudis 12. John Krause 13. Gadiel Figueroa 17. Cristian Arrieta 20. Joshua Hansen (81 Minutes 15. Christopher Feigenbaum)
Anguilla: 1. Ryan Liddie 2. Lester Connor 14. Jarden Abbot 13. Adonijah Richardson 8. Leon Jeffers 10. Walwyn Benjamin 11. Ian Edwards (Capt.) 12. Gracen Richardson 10. Terrence Rodgers 3. Romare Kelsick 15. Andre Griffith
Referee: Kevin Thomas – Jam
Assistant Referee 1 – Sean Thomson Palmer – Bah
Assistant Referee 2 – Ainsley Rochard – TT