Saint Vincent and the Grenadines began the game with neat deft passes, which opened the Saint Lucia midfield, and kept the defense guessing.
However, as the game developed, the host began to encounter difficulties as Saint Lucia settled and from the tenth minute, assumed control of the game.
Led by the experienced former Caledonia AIA captain Sheldon Emmanuel, the Saint Lucia tightened their grip on the game, leaving their opponents floundering about.
The transition from defense to offense by the Saint Lucians opened up gaping holes in the Vincentian midfield, and soon the relentless pressure brought the results the team wanted, when the Vincentian defense brought down a striker just outside the 18-yard box.
Skipper Emmanuel stepped up and hit a low, dipping shot, which tore into the defensive wall. Eden Charles stretched out a long right leg, and got enough to deflect the ball pass the right of a desperately diving Kenyon Lynch in goal to give the Saint Lucia a 1-nil lead in the 24th minute.
The pressure was intensified but to their credit, at one time forcing Randy Poleon to pull off a stunning one handed save from a header.
A goal raid began down the right flank, and saw a floated pass into the Saint Lucian goal area and the resulting header forcing the goalkeeper to bring off the acrobatic save.
The action continued unabated, with the hosts holding on to go into the break just a goal down, despite many near chances by their opponents.
The second halves began with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines taking control and maintained control for a greater part of the half.
Nevertheless, the Saint Lucians kept cool heads, and with very little communications between the Vincentian back four, it was only a matter of time before disaster struck.
The captain collected a pass from the goalkeeper, advanced a few yards, and slotted a pass to one of his defenders, but failed to warn him of a marauding striker.
Pernal Williams stripped the defender from possession and from forty yards out, drove a long high floating ball to goal. Lynch not timing his jump to perfection, missed and the ball flashed passed his desperately reaching fingers millimeters below the crossbar to give Saint Lucia goal number two in the 78th minute.
Saint Lucia then had to encounter a series of goal raids, which forced Poleon to pull off another stunning save, had the Saint Lucia head coach in a post-game interview with CaribDirect.com, to say, “In my view Randy is the man of the match for he kept us in the game.”
A cluster of corner kicks kept the action in the Saint Lucia goal area but skipper Emmanuel using all of his experience, was able to marshal his troops to secure a hard-fought 2-nil victory.
In his interview with CaribDirect.com after the game, head coach Francis Lastic further stated, “The players stuck to the plan and did not lose focus after the second goal. They kept to what was discussed in the dressing room, and cudos to them for remaining focused.
Lastic himself a former national player added that the plan was to maintain possession and seek to pounce on any small opening, which presents itself.
He further singled out skipper Sheldon Emmanuel for using his experience and helped the other players whenever there were difficult moments.
Saint Lucia will now meet Grenada on Tuesday evening in may very well be a tournament decider. Earlier the Grenadians lost 2-1 to the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation President’s XI in the opening game.
Dominic Small opened the scoring for the Vincentians in the 27th minute, with Shane Rennie equalizing for the Grenadians in the 34th minute.
However, the Vincentians went into the lead in the 64th minute and held on for victory. With the 2-nil loss by the national team to Saint Lucia, many are asking the question: “How will it look if the President’s Xi defeats the national team?”
The Vincentian National Team and the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation President’s XI are scheduled to meet on Tuesday evening at the Victoria Park in the first game.
This game will be followed by Grenada versus Saint Lucia in the second game of the second night’s action of the 2013 Windward Islands Senior Men Football Tournament in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. (Robertson S. Henry / CaribDirect.com)