Newcomers Five Islands FC, are the leaders of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) Premier Division after winning a fourth straight match to climb to 12 points after six outings. Their latest victory came on Sunday when they defeated Tryum FC 3-1 in the opening match of a doubleheader at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG), pushing the former champions to the top of the 10 team standings via goal difference.
Daniel Calvi put Five Islands ahead on minute seven before Samuel Semper gave them a two-goal cushion with a 27th minute conversion. Striker Sander Cervantes put the icing on the cake on minute 80 with a close range effort. One member of the coaching staff, Fernando Abraham, hopes his team will not get carried away with their new found status but would rather, seek to grow from strength to strength.
“There are no weak teams, as far as we are concerned in this league. All of the teams are good teams and we are prepared to work hard against every team to try and be victorious. At the end of the day, football is football and some days you are going to be really good while other days you are not going to be so good, you are going to lose or draw a game. We just want to stick together as a team, as one family and just work together and just try and achieve as much as we can,” he said.
Five islands have scored 11 times while giving up six for a goal difference of plus five, one more than second placed Greenbay Hoppers who have a plus four goal difference. Tryum, who had their lone strike in the contest from Mervyn Hazlewood, remain on five points and second from bottom in the standings. Meanwhile, in Sunday’s feature match, reigning champions Parham FC suffered their first loss of the competition, crashing to a 2- 1 defeat at the hands of former champions Old Road. Parham have managed to play from behind to win on several occasions this season, but bowed to early pressure from Old Road, giving up both goals within the first 30 minutes of play.
Striker Stefan Smith put Old Road ahead in as early as the 10th minute when he converted from the penalty spot while, just 18 minutes later, Rashad Jules increased Old Road’s advantage going into the interval. The defending champions found motivation in minute 66 when Nazir McBurnette pulled a goal back. It was, however, not meant to be a typical fairytale ending this time around for the Parham men as they were unable to find the crucial second goal.
One member of the Old Road coaching staff, Chesley Browne, said the game plan was simply to attack from the start of the contest. “We seem to come out strong against what you may call the stronger teams and when we meet what you may call the lesser teams we seem to let our guards down and seem to be [too] relaxed when we come up against those teams but when we play against the so called big names we seem to bring our A-game. Those are the games we really need to win if we want to compete in this competition,” the coach said. The win, only Old Road’s second in six showings moves them to fifth in the standings with eight points while Parham remain on 11 points and have fallen to third in the standings.
Old Road have lost two and drawn two of their matches and Browne said they must work on how the players approach some matches. “Watching Parham for the last couple of games we noticed they tend to start very slow so from the onset that’s what we spoke about before the game. We were going to go at them hard in the first 10 to 15 minutes and see what happens.
It paid off where we got a penalty early and then we scored another goal and then they were on their back foot [the defensive] for most of the first half,” he said. In other Premier division matches over the Christmas weekend, Grenades defeated Empire 3-2 on Sunday while Greenbay Hoppers and Pigotts Bullets played to a nil-all draw. On Friday last week, SAP and Swetes played to a 1-1 draw