A second half implosion sent Guyana crashing out of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Caribbean Cup, surrendering a 2-0 lead to eventually lose 2-4 in extra time yesterday at the National Track and Field Centre in Leonora.
Cruising at 2-0 via an Adrian Butters double in what was clearly a game of two halves, the introduction of winger Owen Garden coupled with the sending off Walter Moore set the wheels in motion for home side’s self-destruction.
With the hosts clearly tiring, Jamaica pulled one back in the 63rd minute through Jevaugn Watson, who stabbed his effort into the roof of the net from the centre of the box, after latching onto a loose ball following a right side throw-in.
The aforesaid conversion clearly rattled the home side, with Moore typifying their frustration after picking up a red card in the 68th minute for kicking his opposing number on his leg in an attempted challenge.
Jamaica eventually capitalized on their numerical handicap and were handed a perfect opportunity to level proceedings in the 82nd minute as Brandon Beresford tripped the advancing forward in the box.
However, buoyed by a supportive crowd, custodian Kai McKenzie-Lyle kept Guyana’s lead intact with a brilliant save low to his left to send the venue into a frenzy.
The momentum at that moment translated on the opposite end as the resulting counterattack almost provided another goal to Guyana’s tally, with a powerful right foot effort from substitute Vurlon Mills forcing an acrobatic save from the Jamaica shot-stopper.
Nonetheless, the fickle nature of the sport came to the forefront as McKenzie-Lyle handed Jamaica the equalizer in the 88th minute.
His earlier moment of brilliance was easily forgotten as a right side cross from Decoy Williams sailed tamely into the left side of the net, after he was caught off his goal-line, in the process drawing the ire of the capacity crowd.
The extra time interval was all about survival for the home side as Jamaica continued to press forward to fashion the winner. As fatigue crept in, Jamaica found more attacking outlets which forced several saves from McKenzie-Lyle who at his point was trying to make amends for his blunder.
The Reggae Boyz eventually grabbed the go-ahead goal in the 116th minute as Shawn Francis scored. Once again it was another sloppy goal that was conceded, one which seemed destined from a practice game as the forward stabbed past the advancing goalkeeper after collecting a simple pass from a right side header.
At this point the home support started to make its way to the exits. Their departure however, was met with further misery as Corey Burke scored in the 120th minute with a left foot dagger into the top right corner.
Guyana ends the group fixtures in the cellar position without a point from their two matches while Jamaica climbed to the top of the group on three points. They will now oppose Suriname in their final fixture on October 13 in Kingston, Jamaica.
Prior to the unlikely finish, Guyana took the lead in the seventh minute through centre-half Butters. As good as Guyana was in the first half, the holders were horrid and easily a shadow of their championship winning outfit.
Such was Guyana’s dominance that the visitors only recorded a solitary shot in the opening half via a 40th minute effort from 30 yards out which sailed well wide of the mark.
The Golden Jaguars, though, fashioned six attempts, with three hitting the target including the double from the centre-half Butters who gave Guyana a dream start, directing a power header from the centre of the box into the left side, after collecting a right side corner-kick from Moore.
The large viewership was given another reason to rejoice half an hour into the contest as Butters made his presence felt once more. It was a finish more suited for a forward as he peeled away from his marker inside the right of the box, before placing his headed effort into the back of the net following a Beresford left side cross.
At this moment, the stadium felt like a cauldron as the home crowd bellowed continuously in support of the starting XI of which also featured the likes of Daniel Wilson [who replaced injured captain Chris Nurse], Samuel Cox, Warren Creavalle, Jake Newton, Anthony Abrams, Trayon Bobb and Anani Mohammed.
Meeting the teams before kickoff was Head of the Jamaican procession Patrick Valca and GFF President Wayne Forde.