Michard Denies Empire

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A diving save from Grenades’ Michard Barrett to deny Cool & Smooth Empire’s Zeno Solomon from the penalty spot in the final seconds of their Premier Division clash, on Sunday, was just the last of several the goalkeeper had as he denied the former champions three crucial points.

It was the second game of a double-header contested at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) and Barrett stole the show, making several specular saves throughout the contest.

Grenades ceased the early initiative when, in minute 14, Kyle Edwards ran past two defenders on the eastern end of the penalty area before slamming his effort into the roof of the net to take his team into the half with a 1-0 cushion.

An early second half effort from midfielder Justin “Trini” Pereira from just outside the 18 yards box seem destined for the back of the net but the Jamaican custodian brilliantly dove to his right to catch the ball in midflight before firmly hitting the turf.

Barrett, a member of Jamaica’s Harbour View FC, made another impossible save when he somehow managed to put a close-range volley over the crossbar even though the show was hit with significant power.

Empire eventually found the equaliser in minute 62 when Jevon Joseph hit into the left corner from just around the penalty spot.

But when referee Vanroy Burnes pointed to the spot in added time after an Empire player went down in the box, many in the grounds thought it was all over.

Barrett however had other plans, diving low to his right to block Solomon’s attempts before hustling to his feet to keep out an intended rebound from the St Vincent import.

Both teams move to 19 points after 11 matches but Empire are third due to a superior goal difference.

Meanwhile, in Sunday’s opening contest, front-runners Cool & Smooth/AC Delco Greenbay Hoppers were held to a nil-all draw by Fitzroy Rewinding Pigotts Bullets. Hoppers move to 29 points at the top of the standings while Bullets edge onto 13 points in position seven.

On Saturday, LIME Old Road continued their pursuit with a 2-0 victory over bottom of the table Five Islands.

Goals from Rasheed Jules in minute 41 and Stephan Smith in minute 44 secured what was their sixth consecutive victory as they move to 21 points, seven points adrift Hoppers.

Coach Vincent “Nabu” Samuel said his players are realising that the competition is far from over.

“With seven games to go, anything is possible and as you would have alluded to earlier in your deliberations, the teams at the bottom are definitely grasping and anything can happen on that small field,” he said.

Also, on Saturday, SAP won their first match in four showings, beating Fort Road 1-0. The lone strike of the contest came from Trevor Tonge in minute 78.

Head Coach Janiel “Board” Simon said the team has struggled with cohesion issues all season.

“If you notice, when these teams begin to set in and crawl around you and then anything could have happened so anything can happen at this point in time,” he said.

“It’s an aging team and one of the biggest factors for me this season is to mix the youths with the older players but I think it’s finally getting together. Also, we have gone through a bad period with a lot of injuries and not just one or two key players but between five to six starting players and that played a major part,” he added.

SAP moves to 14 points and sixth on the standings while Fort Road remains on eight points and eighth on the standings.