Thursday, April 26, 2012
ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A powerful second half display by the Antigua Barracuda FC, led by two strikes from Stefan Smith, was enough to secure victory against the visiting Charlotte Eagles at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Thursday night. A late strike from the visitors piled the pressure on the home team but Antigua held on to earn three valuable points.
Antigua was able to take the lead as early as the 12th minute, a cross from Matthew Aldred providing the perfect opportunity for Peter Byers to nod pass Eric Reed in the Charlotte goal. If that was the impetus the visitors needed it certainly provided the perfect platform for them to launch a new level of play, much to the delight of the home crowd. A free kick by Jorge Herrera was a sign of things to come as he rattled the upright with a carefully constructed maneuver shortly after Antigua had taken the lead. Then in the 37th minute, another free kick from Herrera on the edge of the penalty area provided the equaliser, with a dipping delivery that gave Molvin James no chance in the Barracuda goal leaving the teams tied at the halftime break.
Upon resumption, Antigua seemed more urgent and determined to get a positive result out of the game, and within 10 minutes, the in-form Smith latched on to a pass from Byers to strike low and hard pass Reed. As if sensing an opportunity to finish off the opposition, the home team pushed forward to seal the game. In the 60th minute, following a long throw from the hard-working Byers which was allowed to bounce pass the Eagles' defense, Smith again powered home to give the home team a two-goal cushion.
But that was far from the end of the night for the Eagles. They pressed and pushed forward with some insightful play, while the Barracudas defended stoutly. The chances came and went, but in the 78th minute, substitute Luke Williams scored to provide a grandstand finish.
With tiring legs on both sides, a number of chances were missed by both teams in the closing stages. Charlotte had the best of them, seeing a chance cleared off the line by the Barracudas’ defense, but in the end Antigua prevailed to take all the points.
The two teams meet again on Saturday in the second game of the doubleheader, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. The game can also be seen live via USL Live on UNATION.