Jamaica blanks Antigua & Barbuda in Caribbean Cup

Action from the Caribbean Cup match between Jamaica (yellow jersey) and Antigua & Barbuda on November 14, 2014, in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Jamaica scored two goals in the first half to earn a 3-0 win over Antigua & Barbuda in 2014 Caribbean Cup Group B play on Friday at the Montego Bay Sport Complex.

The win lifted the Reggae Boyz into a first-place tie on four points with Haiti, which downed Martinique, also 3-0, earlier in the evening.  The Martinicans and Antigua have collected one point each.

Looking a different team from the one that drew 1-1 with Martinique in Wednesday’s opener, the tournament host mixed hard-driving wing play with committed support from the middle.

Team captain Rodolph Austin had a goal and an assist, while Kemar Lawrence and Darren Mattocks also got their names on the scoresheet.

Lawrence opened the scoring in the 29th minute, receiving Rodolph’s free kick in the penalty box and turning to beat goalkeeper Molvin James with an unruffled finish.

The Jamaicans doubled their advantage just a minute before the break thanks to the work of Dane Richards, who enjoyed an outstanding evening.  The Norway-based attacker delivered a low ball from the right that Mattocks slotted past a helpless James for his second goal in as many games.

Without allowing the half-time interval have deleterious effect on its attacking inclinations, Jamaica stayed on the front foot.

In the 65th minute, Jobi McAnuff drilled a shot from 23-yards into the chest of James.  The ball popped upwards air as the goalkeeper fell backwards, but he was able to reel it in.

Simon Dawkins would then get free in left side of the box, only to see his 76th effort be thwarted by the cat-like reflexes of a diving James.

The 25-year-old netminder was at his best again two minutes later, making a point-blank save off a Richards attempt that was a result of an impressive sprint.

Seconds after Hughan Gray crashed a rocket off the Antiguan woodwork, Austin rose high in the 87th minute to punctuate the scoreline with a header off a left-sided cross.

Places in next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup are still up for grabs, setting up a decisive doubleheader on Sunday as Antigua will face Martinique and Jamaica will meet Haiti on in the last day of group play.