Empire Wins Second Straight, Parham Clings To Narrow Lead

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Former top flight champions, Empire FC drastically improved their chances of remaining in the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) Premier Division when, on Sunday, they stunned Old Road FC 2-0 to move within one point of Pigotts Bullets at the bottom of the 10-team standings. Empire, going winless in the first half of the competition, had goals from striker Shakimba Williams who netted from the penalty spot in minute 32 and Eugene Kirwan in added time, as they recorded a second straight victory and moved to eight points.
They are now just one win away from eighth placed Swetes FC on 11 points. Empire and Swetes are set to clash in Saturday’s feature contest at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG). President of the Empire FC and a member of the coaching staff, Veron “Epilus” Edwards, said the team has since moved past its dismal first round showing and are more together as a unit. “Losing is a habit and we developed that habit in the first round. Winning is also a habit and we have developed that habit. The guys are more comfortable and like I said last week, we have sifted out the bad eggs and now we have a team that is playing as a unit. The funny thing is that most of the guys who are playing key roles including my leading goalscorer [Shakimba Williams] who is a 17-year-old, are guys who are not paid, so these guys are doing it from the heart, they are doing it for the love, for the passion and I just think we are playing better as a unit,” Edwards said.
Old Road continues to lurk dangerously close to the automatic two-team relegation zone with 12 points and seventh in the standings. Meanwhile, at the other end of the standings, defending champions Parham FC maintained their slim onepoint advantage with a 2-1 victory over Swetes FC. Nazron Hoyte had put Parham in command in the ninth minute before Tevaughn Harriette made it 2-0 in minute 54. Swetes managed to pull a goal back on minute 56 but could not find the equaliser. Parham moves to 24 points, just one point ahead of Grenades FC who were 2-0 victors over Pigotts Bullets in Sunday’s opening fixture.
Coach of the Parham team, Rowan Isaac, welcomed the slender and unnerving lead. “One point is not a comfortable lead because as you may be aware, on Saturday the lead had changed, on Sunday early, the lead changed and Sunday evening the lead changed again so as you can see it’s just topsy turvy in terms of the situation,” the coach said. Meanwhile, national youth defender Vashami Allen, netted in minute 38 while striker Astapharoy Bygrave scored in minute 81 to see Grenades to a 2-0 triumph over Bullets in the opening match of the tripleheader. Grenades are second in the standings with 23 points, just one adrift leaders Parham. Coach, Derrick “Pretty Boy” Edwards, said his team is in an ideal position heading into the peak of the competition.
“We are still in the competition because it is just one point that separates us from the top, so we are grateful for that. The Premier League is a marathon and not really a sprint, so you just have to keep pursuing what you are doing; do the things you are doing good and just try to improve on the things that you’re not doing so good,” he said. Bullets are second from bottom in the standings with just nine points from their 12 showings.

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