By Franklin Wilson in Florida, USA
Compliments of Industrial Safety Supplies,
Secure Innovation & Concepts and Fitness Express
Even their best performance to date did not produce the desired win as the young Guyanese team lost to Curacao after scoring first yesterday when action on day eight of the Concacaf Under-20 Championship USA 2018 continued at the IMG Academy, Bradenton Florida, USA.
Playing on Field #11 for the first time and coming up against Curacao who, like the Guyanese were chasing their first win after two matches each, the young Golden Jaguars made five changes to their starting X1 from the last match with Jamain Cumberbatch (Goalkeeper), Javier Smith (defender), Lionel Holder (defender) and Chris Macey (midfielder) replacing Johnathan Vaughn, Nixon Robertson, Ryan Hackett and Ryan Dowding.
The plan was to be attacking against the more stocky Curacao boys and it paid early dividends for the Guyanese who, like in the Cayman Islands match, got on the scoring sheets first. Again it was Kelsey Benjamin playing up front who fired in the first goal in the 7th minute, his second of the tournament.
It capped a fine period for the Guyanese who were very positive up to that point. But three minutes later, poor work at the back by Guyana allowed Curacao’s Carolith Fermina the chance to pull his team level in the 10th minute.
Indecisive work in the defensive third has been one of Guyana’s biggest challenges in the tournament so far and yesterday was no different. On 27 minutes, an uncalled infringement perpetrated by Nicholas McArthur which resulted in a free kick saw the Curacao team taking full advantage of the set piece to score the go ahead goal, this time it was Mgehon Valpoort who slapped the ball past Cumberbatch between the uprights.
Two minutes later, Guyana were forced to make its first substitution when Kwai Marsh-Brown who was brought into midfield for the match from his usual defensive role replaced by Job Caesar. Marsh-Brown was on the receiving end of a tackle which resulted in him suffering an ankle injury about two minutes before being replaced.
Curacao by then were in control of proceedings, putting together passes in bunches as they swung the ball from the flanks to the middle. Guyana, on the other hand were seemingly content to give the ball away quite easily.
Being called for yet another infringement not far away from goal in the 33rd minute saw the Guyanese again paying for the lapse in concentration. The only difference this time was that they scored against themselves. The throw into the box resulted in Cecil Jackman slicing the ball past his countryman to the dismay of himself and teammates, a goal which gifted Curacao a 3-1 lead.
Some solace came the way of the Golden Jaguars on the stroke of halftime, when, on the end of a forceful period they were able to reduce the deficit to a single goal. Admirable work by Kelsey Benjamin who constantly took on the Curacao defenders with encouraging success saw him working his way into the box and with the goalie, Kevin Juliana advancing, passed to fellow forward Thair Britton who completed the job clinically; Guyana 2 Curacao 3.
In their two previous matches, Guyana have been scored upon on the stroke of half time by Guatemala and Cayman Islands but this time around, turned it around the other way.
The half time period brought some much needed respite for both teams in very humid conditions, during the half players from both teams capitalized on the many breaks to keep themselves hydrated; the match kicked off at 14:45hrs Florida time, one hour later in Guyana.
Head Coach Wayne Dover, took the time to refresh the players memories of the tactical plan and the need for awareness in the various positions. On resumption, Curacao again made Guyana pay for poor work at the back in the 56th minute.
The last post was left unattended which presented Jaron Vicario the opening to tuck the ball into the back of the nets which he did happily to restore his teams two goal cushion at 4-2. It was a period that Guyana were dominating when they gave up another goal.
However, the young Jaguars were not daunted and almost immediately rebounded when their third goal came on the end of aggressive playing by Thair Britton who achieved his double in the 57th minute.
Britton belligerently ran down goalie Juliana after a ball was played back to him and in his haste to clear the ball before Britton got to him, blasted the ball into the Guyanese strikers body and the ball rebounded back into the open goal much to the dismay of Curacao but the joy of Guyana; Guyana 3 Curacao 4.
The plan of the Guyanese was clear as they continued to run down their opponents coming close on numerous occasions. Ryan Hackett was introduced to the match in the 64th minute at the expense of Nicholas McArthur to add fresh legs to the attack.
But yet again, even as Guyana dominated, indecisiveness in the attacking third and midfield put paid to their chances of pressing for what would have been a well deserving draw and even full points since their opponents displayed signs of vulnerability.
But that was not to be, Curacao held on to their narrow one goal advantage to walk away with full points and their first win of the tournament. Guyana remain at the bottom of the five team group without a point going into their final match tomorrow against El Salvador (current group leaders with 9 points from 2 wins) at 19:45hrs at the IMG Soccer Stadium.
Meanwhile in other results yesterday, Cayman Islands drew 2-2 with Guatemala and St Kitts beat Canada 2-1.
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