Antigua defied by Dominica after thrilling encounter – Huge Home Crowd served attacking football like never before: Digicel Caribbean Cup
Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica served up a hugely entertaining draw in front of a massive home crowd, which somehow remained goal less despite more goal chances and cleared lines from impossible positions than any football fan would normally see in ten games put together.
Dominica seemed to be a different side that had failed to turn up against Cuba on Wednesday evening and took the game to Antigua from the start. Showing two changes in their starting line up from Wednesday, the Dominican players were busy trying to rectify their chances for qualification to the Digicel Cup Finals.
Buoyed on by a very large home crowd of 5,637, the Antiguans threw away two great chances to open the scoring but on both occasions centre forward Peter Byers skewed his header wide when it seemed easier to score.
Dominican blushes were saved by Austrie after Prince had somehow spilled his catch from a long throw in from the right, which was cleared from under the bar when Antigua seemed to have the goal in their sights.
The miss of the half came when Leightwood crossed for Burton who had the simple task of passing the ball into the empty Dominican net, but his wild swing and miss left the ball bounce from his back heel and away.
Antigua started the second half brightly and straight from the kick off Gason Gregory was found with a beautiful through ball but his vicious shot was well parried by Prince who got down well at his front post.
On 51 minutes the Antiguan crowd at the ARG went crazy. Byers was quick to pounce on a poor short throw from keeper Prince to Thomas, stole the ball, rounded the keeper, and was just about to pull the trigger when Prince seemed to drag him down. Despite the roars from the crowd, Jamaican referee Purser waved away the protests and Dominica were off the hook from what looked like a stone wall penalty.
Byers again was foiled on 65 minutes when his shot was rolling into the net after he yet again went around the keeper, got his shot off this time, but the lack of pace on it allowed Dominican Captain Bernard to get back and slide the ball inches the other side of the post to safety.
Antigua continued to press but Bernard played the skippers role to a tee, marshalling the defence well. Despite all his heroics he relied on Prince to pull off a magnificent full length diving save to prevent substitute Jamie Thomas’s run and shot from 18 yards.
This opened the flood gates to relentless pressure and shooting from Antigua as the ball hopped around the Dominican goal which lead a charmed life. How Byers remained off the scoring list was a mystery as his header from 3 yards somehow managed to end up in the hands of Prince to the dismayed screams of the massive home crowd in this famous stadium.
The Antiguan crowd went into hysterics when Bernard broke away and played Benjamin through one on one with the keeper. As his shot deflected off Decastro in the Antigua goal the ball fell bouncing to Langlais who somehow managed to nearly hit the corner flag from 4 yards out with no keeper, in the middle of the goal and an open Antiguan net. The home fans of close to 6,000 nearly tore the famous stadium down with their screams of laughter and relief.
The anxiety levels rose as Antigua tried desperately to find that elusive goal and not contemplating the danger of the Dominican counter attack. The game flew from goal mouth to goal mouth, and Dominica almost stole it on 89 minutes when their breakaway attack and rare excursion outside their 18 yard box, saw Bertrand slide in at the back post and just missing the winning touch for the underdogs.
The final whistle was met by screams from the home side who went away delighted with the action and completely confused as to how it was possible for the result to have remained 0-0.
Group G now has one round of games left, and with Cuba and Antigua on 4 points and Dominica and Suriname on 1 point the possibilities for all teams still remain open as the teams face off to opponents on similar points. The excitement for Sundays games can only be heightened after two incredible games of football were served to the Antiguan crowd in the hallowed turf of the ARG.