Kingston, Jamaica - Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz pulled off a great rallying act to barely hold on to clip gutsy Barbados 3-2 in their Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Challenge Series at UWI/JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Friday.
The hosts secured the victory through strikes from Kevona Reid (34th minute), Shantel Bailey (35th) and Roshana Palache (49th).
Barbados, who had lost its opening game 7-0 to Cuba on Wednesday, stunned the Jamaicans when Felecia Javis gave her team a promising start in the 29th minute.
Rianna Cyrus in minute 50 got Barbados’ other goal.
Match rusty Jamaica joined Cuba on three points, but is second in the standings on goal difference in Group B of the region-wide warm-up tournament for next month's Concacaf World Cup qualifying play-offs.
In the final game of the three-team tournament, Jamaica will face Cuba in the top-of-the-table contest at the Waterhouse Mini-Stadium on Sunday. Game time is at 5:00 pm Jamaica time.
Andrew Price, Jamaica’s assistant coach, believes the largely disappointing performance by his charges was due to “nerves” and match “rustiness”.
“When you take into consideration the fact that the national senior team hasn’t played a game in over two years and that this is a group of local players with about 10 of them making their debut, so there was a bit of nerves.
“I think we settled down a little better in the second half, we had a lot of territorial advantage, and I think we controlled the game and should have had a few more goals,” he said in a post-game interview.
Thomas Jordan, the Barbados head coach, took comfort in his team’s improved showing over Wednesday’s battering by Cuba.
“We played a lot better today (Friday) as we were more composed on the ball and we attacked a lot more than we did on Wednesday, but unfortunately our defence was the letdown and that is something we have to work on for future games,” he said.
During a spell when Barbados exerted influence on proceedings, they went ahead by taking full advantage of a defensive foul-up by Jamaica which allowed Javis to beat goalkeeper Chris-Ann Chambers.
Jolted by the goal, the Reggae Girlz went on the offensive and were rewarded when Reid timed her arrival to make the best of a lofted ball from Chevin Blair to make easy work of blasting past the Rhea Holder in the Barbados goal.
Jamaica was 2-1 up in the blink of an eye when Bailey’s blistering left-footed shot found its mark after receiving a cross from the busy Reid.
The home team closed its goal-scoring show when Palache stabbed home from close up a Reid’s right-sided corner.
Jamaica, seemingly on its way to a comfortable win, was again sloppy in addressing an offensive threat, which ended with Cyrus who beat an out-of-position Chambers.
The Turks and Caicos Islands, which was to contest Group B, withdrew from the tournament.
Group A: St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Dominica and St. Lucia
Group B: Jamaica, Cuba, Barbados
Group C: Haiti, Martinique, USVI, and Dominican Republic
Group D: Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Curacao and Martinique**
Group E: Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname and Grenada**
(**Groups D & E will play April 23-30)