Empire holds champions to a draw

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Cool and Smooth ACT Empire held the defending champions, Asot’s Arcade Parham to a 2-2 draw on Sunday at the Antigua Recreation Grounds. The feature match of the triple-header in the Antigua Barbuda Football Association Premier league saw Empire draw first blood with a goal by Eugine Kirwan in the 20th minute.
Empire kept up the momentum, but with a defensive error opened the door for the champs who equalised just six minutes after with a Kerija Benjamin strike. With the second half underway, both teams kept up the pace with a number of shots on goal but it would be Parham who gained the edge scoring in the 54th minute as Tevaughn “Peter Reds” Harriette chipped the ball over the goalkeeper who was to quick to run off his line.
Hope would however come for the struggling Empire team as Rakeem Joseph would find the back of the net in the 77th minute to give the former champions their first point of the season. Parham, despite gaining one point remain at the top of the 10-team standings with 11 points boasting a better goal difference to Hoppers with 6 who also have 11 points. Cool and Smooth Global Bank of Commerce Greenbay Hoppers found themselves in the winner’s circle after defeating Sugar Ridge SAP, 2-1.
Haden Holligan scored twice for the victors in the 30th and 43rd minute while national player, Peter “Big Pete” Byers was the lone goal scorer for SAP scoring in extra time of the first half. Rolston “Lexy” Phoenix, Head Coach of Hoppers spoke with OBSERVER media about his team’s performance. “We came out very strong in the first and lost sight in the second half but we still took the three points.
We will continue to take it step by step and one game at a time.” The former player now turned Head Coach also spoke on the role captain Tamorley ”Ziggy” Thomas plays and how he felt with their current position. “Ziggy knows that there is more pressure on him now especially with a few of our players leaving so you will see him playing a number of positions and that’s all we can ask of him to go out and lead.” “I am very happy with the current position we are in. You know a lot of people were saying Hoppers doesn’t have a team now at the beginning of the season so it feels good to prove them wrong.” Hoppers now sit in second place while SAP dropped to 5th place with seven points.
In the other match on Sunday, Richie Rich Five Islands picked up their third win in their last three showings as they trumped Wadadli Events Services Oyster Veg International Swetes, 1-0. The lone goal came from Yoandir Puga in the 54th minute. “The game was a tough one especially playing at 3 p.m., Swetes was very physical but our players took in everything and were working along with the coach.
I am happy and enjoying how we’ve been playing thus far,” stated Fernando Abraham, a member of the management staff for Five Islands. Five Islands now sit in the third position two points behind both Hoppers and Parham. Abraham also spoke on his team’s current standings. “I am happy with our current position and we are just going to continue to push the guys to work hard to stay the top three.”
Swetes dropped to 9th place with 4 points after five showings. In matches on Saturday, Sandals INET Imobile Grenades kept hope alive with a late goal to draw with Harney Motors Tryum, 1-1. Mark Browne was the witness wonder for Grenades while Mervyn Hazelwood scored for Tryum. Fitzroy Rewinding Pigotts Bullets upset Drahz KFC Old Road defeating them, 3-2. Troy Reid (34th), Lyndon Thwaites (90+3) and Marvin Martin (90+4) all scored for the victors. Rashad Jules scored twice for Old Road.

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