Barbados, Grenada draw in women’s friendly

Barbados’ Felicia Jarvis (right) contests a ball with visiting Grenada captain/defender Chelsea La Touche during their friendly on December 23, 2014, in Bridgetown.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 24 – Barbados rallied to draw visiting Grenada 1-1 in a women’s international friendly on Tuesday at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex.

The match was Barbados’ first since a 1-0 loss at Puerto Rico on May 25, while Grenada played to its third away stalemate in five days after knotting St. Vincent & the Grenadines (1-1, 0-0) on December 19 and 21.

Following a goalless first half, the game came to life after the break.  Merissa Charles put the Grenadians ahead in the 62nd minute, running away from her marker and slotting past goalkeeper Kamilah Burke.

One minute later, Kimberley Ellis equalised after a swift counterattack launched by substitute Shontelle Small, who went down the right and played a delightful cross to the far post.

After Grenada hit the woodwork through Jemeilla John, the host had the perfect opportunity to grab the win three minutes left in normal time.  Another substitute, Rihanna Cyrus, was brought down in the area by Grenada captain Chelsey Latouche, but the resulting penalty kick by newly-appointed captain Gabriella Lopez crashed off the cross bar and out for a goal kick.

“I like the result,” said Grenada head coach Franklyn Simpson.  “I think the two young teams were very combative and it would have been an injustice for any one of these girls to go away knowing they lost the game.  I would have loved to have won, but, really, in fair play, a draw was the best result.”

Though Barbados was left ruing several missed opportunities, Lopez said there were positives to take from the encounter.

“Watching players develop from where they were in the [domestic] league to international play was a positive,” she noted.  “A lot of players got experience for the first time and I think that will be good for them.  We’re looking forward to playing Dominica in January and the girls would have already had this game under their belts in 2014, so 2015 is a bright year for us.”

Lopez came close early in the second half with a left-footed drive that just flew wide of the uprights and, moments later, Tianna Hackett produced a weak right-footed effort with a clear sight of goal.

Ellis had a shot blocked during a goal-mouth scramble and then headed wide in the 55th minute from a Hackett corner, as Barbados ramped up the pressure.