Second half goals by Alpha United duo Anthony “Awo” Abrams who was the captain on the night and winger Dwight Peters earned the youthful Jaguars a hard fought 2-2 draw against Martinique at the Stade Georges on Wednesday evening in the city of St. Luces.
“It would have been crazy after fighting so well to come away with a loss,” stated a relieved Jamaal Shabazz, Head Coach of the Guyana national team.
“The game can best be described as a tale of two halves,” he commented.
”Defensively we were a disaster in the first half, an accident waiting to happen. But second half the guys did very well, displayed great character and we controlled the game,” stated Shabazz.
Martinique who were coming off back to back victories against Antigua and Guadeloupe had the Golden Jaguars on the back foot from the whistle, forcing goalkeeper Richard Reynolds to bring off some good saves to keep his team in the game. However loose defending saw Martinique go ahead in the 23rd minute. Dwight Peters came close to scoring 10 minutes later, but after out running the Martinique defence he saw his deftly taken lob go just outside the post.
On the stroke of halftime, Anthony Abrams missed a sitter. He dribbled past the goalkeeper and from the left side of the six-yard box miss-kicked the ball and saw his repeat effort cleared off the line.
The teams went into the interval with Martinique leading 1-0 much to the joy of their home fans.
Commenting on his team’s second half approach Shabazz stated: “We focused on applying more pressure higher up the field in the second half and urged the guys to fight back as soon as the ball was lost. This gave us more possession and with the way we dominated the game we should have scored at least twice, to put us in a comfortable position.”
It was Abrams who became a hero in the 61st minute, slotting home after being put through by Konata Mannings in midfield. So far in 2012 during these Caribbean tours, Abrams has maintained solid goal-scoring form, having scored in previous encounters versus Grenada, Tobago and French Guiana.
With the score level at 1-1, Mannings saw his free kick just skim the post, while teenagers Daniel Wilson and Trayon Bobb came close to scoring with Guyana running rings around the Martinique defence.
With Martinique pinned back and the fourth official signaling four minutes of extra time, the Frenchmen struck against the run of play to score making it 2-1.
But staring down the barrel of defeat the Golden Jaguars fought to the end. Dwight Peters played a combination move with mid-fielder Travis “Zorro” Grant and then wiggled his way past three defenders to score a spectacular equalizer in the last minute of extra time.
“I think we deserved to come away with a result and I am satisfied that the guys gave a good hard fought performance. Our fitness level is improving thanks to the work of the local staff and the fact that guys are playing in the Super League,” Shabazz elaborated.
“We look to the game against Guadeloupe today with a view of bringing in some younger lads into the firing line again, this is what the doctor has ordered,” he added.
Guyana will meet Guadeloupe tonight at 8:00pm in Guadeloupe. Guadeloupe have qualified for the last two Gold Cup Tournaments finishing runners-up to Jamaica in the last Digicel Caribbean Cup Tournament.
Guyana’s team vs Martinique:
Richard Reynolds/ Devor Dennis /Quincy Madramootoo/Colin Nelson/ Julien Edwards/Dwight Peters/Konata Mannings/Kester Jacobs/ Trayon Bobb/ Daniel Wilson/ Anthony Abrams (captain)
Substitutes: Anthony Benfield for Dennis (halftime), Eon Alleyne for Abrams (75th minute), Travis Grant for Konata Mannings (80th minute), Kris Camacho for Trayon Bobb (82minute), Pernell Schultz for Daniel Wilson (83rd minute), Brion Baker for Kester Jacobs (85th minute).