Five Islands gets first win as Empire’s hardship continues

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By Neto Baptiste
Premier Division newcomers, Five Islands FC, picked up their first victory of the competition when they rallied to a 3-1 win over Pigott’s Bullets at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) on Sunday.
Playing in the dreaded “hot sun” encounter which started at 3 p.m., Five Islands had suffered previous losses to SAP and Parham in earlier weeks but came out strong against the game favourites who had enjoyed a win and a draw in two matches.
Striker Sander Cervantes netted twice for Five Islands, hitting the back of the net in minutes 44 and 63 after Yoandir Puga had given them a 12th minute lead.
Avier Christian scored the lone goal for Bullets on minute 67.
President of the Five Islands FC and one member of the coaching staff, Fernando Abraham, said his players are determined to remain in the top flight and will fight for every gettable point.
“When you get there, if you’re not prepared, you will go right back down and we’re trying our best to be prepared so we don’t go right back down again. We suffered that fate last year or year before and we don’t want that to happen again,” he said.
“Once you get to the Premier Division and you realise that the teams are bringing in players, and you decide not to bring in players, then you are going to have a problem because that four or five players from the outside added to what you have will make your team much better than what it was in the First Division. If you don’t do that, then you must have probably the best players in Antigua to play in your team,” he added.
Five Islands moves to three points and eighth on the 10-team standings while Bullets remains on four points and seventh on the standings.
Meanwhile, the woes continued for former champions Empire, falling 1- 0 to neighbours and rivals Greenbay Hoppers when they clashed in the second match of the day’s triple-header.
The lone strike of the contest came from Kendell Pennyfeather who slotted home from the penalty spot in minute 11, handing Empire a third straight defeat in as many matches.
Hoppers shares the number one spot on the standings with Parham as they both have seven points after two victories and one draw each. They have both scored six times while giving up three goals each for a goal difference of plus
Coach Rolston “Lexy” Phoenix said that the match did not live up to expectation but he welcomed the victory.
“Maybe because it is so early in the season and a lot of our guys are new and are youths so they don’t really understand what the derby is all about, but we got three points and that is what it is really about, so we are just taking it one game at a time. I was pleased with certain aspects, certain parts of the game play and how the guys are shutting down on top and in the middle,” he said.
In Sunday’s feature contest, a late conversion from striker and last season’s chief marksman Stefan Smith, ensured that Old Road avoided defeat against rivals Grenades.
Smith netted in added time to hand his team a 1-1 draw after Rakeem Henry had put Grenades ahead in as early as the fifth minute.
Both teams are now on five points with Old Road in third and Grenades in the number four position.

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