Antigua Barracuda end season with win

The first half was largely a quiet, uneventful affair with only goalkeeper Keita De castro having to rush off his line once to clear from the onrushing Blues attack.

The presence of Chukwudi Chijundu up front from the start, highlighting the absence of Peter Byers in the visitors’ line-up, presented their only successful option in the previous meeting between both teams.

Meanwhile the home team having employed Christian, the oldest member of the team as a central defender in Los Angeles, started with him in that role in anticipation of Byers’ power and speed up front. That quickly changed with Christian switching to right back in exchange with captain George Dublin.

On resumption of play in the second half, another change was effected by head coach Tom Curtis, with Christian placed in his more familiar role up front, as Cowin Mathurin was substituted and Roy Gregory slotted in at right back.

It proved to be the turning point as quickly the home team got into its stride and strung a number of passes together in search of the crucial breakthrough.

The pressure finally paid off from a corner taken by Randolph “Ettie” Burton as an emphatic header at the back post by Christian broke the tie and gave the game the boost it needed.

Following a spell of good play by both teams, a fast break by Stefan Smith 13 minutes later allowed him to calmly turn his defender and slot the ball perfectly into the path of Christian, who completed his brace with a low strike to the right of Blues goalkeeper Oscar Duatt.

Christian, in his third different position of the night, confirmed his status as player of the game.

The stuffing was now well and truly knocked out of the visitors and they seemed just hoping for the final whistle. The best though was yet to come.

Defending a corner awarded to the visitors, Orlando Mitchum provided the pass to Thomas on the edge of his own 18-yard box.

From there Thomas raced up field evading four Blues players and finally turning and twisting Blues defender Nelson Akwari before driving home a low, powerful, curling shot, on the edge of the penalty area, to the absolute delight of the small crowd, the perfect ending to a night and a season that offered much promise.

It proved to be the last kick of the game but the last word we give to head coach Curtis who said, “It only takes a spark to get the fire going. Tonight Ranjae provided that energy and (Thomas’) goal was for me the goal of the season. We will be much better, much stronger, next year.”

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