Former champions Greenbay Hoppers outplayed rivals Grenades FC on Sunday, winning 2-0 as they leaped to the top of the standings in the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) Premier Division.
Playing in the final contest of a triple-header at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG), the play between the two teams was pretty even, but Hoppers took full advantage of their scoring opportunities, netting on sides of the half to rack up their seventh win of the season and move to 25 points at the top of the division.
National midfielder, Tomarley Thomas put Hoppers ahead on minute 40 when he ran onto a low pass just inside the penalty area before hitting past the diving Prince Walter in goal for Grenades.
Grenades had an opportunity to equalise in the early stages of the second half, but even with the Hoppers defense beaten, could not get the ball over the goal line.
Just minutes later, Grenades would squander another scoring opportunity, hitting over the cross bar from deep in the penalty areas.
The Greenbay men would then put the game beyond doubt in minute 85 when Ackeel Applewaite struck low and hard past Walter who could not recover after having made an earlier save.
Coach, Rolston Phoenix, said that the aim is to remain focused on one game at a time.
“Now, we just have to take it one game at a time. We have Bullets this weekend and we can’t be preparing for Bullets and the game after Bullets at the same time. Everybody who comes up against Hoppers comes with their A game, so we have to come with our A-plus game,” he said.
Grenades remain on 23 points and fourth in the standings following what was their second loss in 13 showings.
Meanwhile, newcomers Five Islands remained within striking distance of the new leaders with an orchestrated 2-0 victory over Old Road when they met in the day’s second match.
In the somewhat one-sided affair, Five Islands had goals from striker Sander Cervantes in minute 23 and Yoandir Puga in minute 35 as they move to 24 points, just one adrift of Hoppers in the standings.
One member of the Five Islands coaching staff, Fernando Abraham said that his team will continue to prepare for what he believes will be a difficult and challenging climax to the competition.
“We’re trying to get a little closer to the top spot so I am always going out to win, because if you don’t win then you will stay in the same place you’re in and anybody can pass anybody at this present time, so we are just putting our foot on the gas pedal and moving on from there,” he said.
Old Road, who have not won in four showings, remain on 12 points and third from bottom in the 10-team standings.
In Sunday’s opening match, defending champions Parham FC, went under to Tryum FC 1-0 as Tryum seeks to steer clear of the relegation zone.
The lone strike of the contest came from Javin Sutherland in minute 52 as Tryum moves to 16 points and sixth in the standings.
Coach Leon Moses Jr. hailed his team’s performance but reminded that the fight to stave off relegation is far from over.
“We just need to continue our work, work hard on the training ground, and make sure we are ready for every game. We have to just make sure that the plans that we have are in place and we just work with it until we get to the end. We have been planning for this for the last three to four years and so we’d put some things in place and so we are working with that right now to make sure we can maintain ourselves in the Premier Division and be a competitor,” the coach said.
Parham, despite the loss, remains within striking distance with 24 points and third in the standings.