The 4-3 win for the Bahamas over Antigua and Barbuda was not your grandparents’ form of beach soccer, with sides forcibly scoring goals, taking the lead, and shutting down strikers, all at different points in the match. Antigua and Barbuda played with just that much more intensity in the opening periods but they could not sustain it as the Bahamas stayed close enough to strike late and earn the win. With the three points that came along with the victory, the Bahamas has 6 with one game remaining.
Their final group stage game will be on Tuesday against the USA. The Bahamas secured their place in the next round with the win. Antigua and Barbuda did has yet to win in the tournament but they will get another chance on Tuesday against Barbados.
The Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda do not have a problem scoring as their offenses have been effective in the past and the opening minutes of this match showed that they could attack like well-oiled machines as they each notched goals, though Antigua and Barbuda scored the first two and held onto a slim 2-1 advantage going into the final minutes of the period.
The period came to an end with the same score, Antigua and Barbuda leading 2-1, as neither side could beat the other for another goal. The Rake and Scrape Boys found the equalizer early in the middle frame, only to see the third goal from Murray of Antigua and Barbuda put them in another one goal deficit.
The heart of the match arrived with only one goal separating the teams, as Antigua and Barbuda led 3-2. The Bahamans had a chance to level matters at three on a penalty but a great save kept Antigua and Barbuda in the lead. The Bahamas would not miss on their next attempt, though it was a much more difficult shot from distance, and the score ended up 3-3 at the end of two periods.
The pleasantries were out of the way and both teams looked comfortable with the opponent in front of them and the very calm opening to the period showed that neither side wanted to give up the next goal, which could be the most important of the match. Antigua and Barbuda were the first to cede a goal in the final frame and it was the goal that gave the Rake and Scrape Boys their first lead all day.
The goal created the spark that Antigua and Barbuda wanted, but the Bahamas were able to counter and even snuff out most of the dangerous chances. Antigua and Barbuda were not able to get the most out of their offense, not like had earlier and the final period and match ended with the Bahamas up 4-3.
Goals: 0-1: Murray, min. 10 (1); 0-2: Murray, min. 7 (1); 1-2: St Fleur, min. 7 (1); 2-2: Hanna, min. 10 (2); 2-3: Murray, min. 8 (3); 3-3: St Fleur, min. 4 (2); 4-3: Williamson, min. 9 (3).
Photo credit: Manuel Queimadelos/beachsoccer.com