St. Kitts-Nevis defended their home turf and in the process sent out a strong message to Barbados, the other teams in group D, that they intend to ensure that all host countries of the opening groups of the 2008 Digicel Caribbean Championships (DCC), advance to stage two.
The host team was in rampaging form, inflicting a 4-0 whipping of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) on Wednesday evening at the Warner Park in the opening game of DCC Group D, which is the final group of the opening stage.
The Kittitians could have easily won the encounter by a much wider margin were it not for numerous missed chances, at least four being one-on-one opportunities with BVI goalkeeper and captain, Montgomery Butler, who in the estimation of St. Kitts head coach Lester Morris, was the Most Valuable Player of the losing side.
Butler’s heroics between the uprights ensured the score line was not larger as he nullified a number of ominous runs by the St. Kitts-Nevis strikers after his defense buckled under the constant pressure.
The first ten minutes of the game saw both sides scratching around seeking to wrest the advantage, the robust like Virgin Islands players trying to get the better of the home team who took some time to settle in.
But the fans did not have to wait for too long to celebrate as after 15 minutes of exchanges, Jevon Francis gleefully accepted a well taken corner by captain George Isaac to fire his shot past Butler, easing the tension that was building up among the fans.
The Kittitians thereafter, imposed their will on the BVI team and were holding possession of the ball for longer periods, and at one time set up camp in the BVI half for about 20 minutes.
In the 25th minute, Captain Isaac fed the ball to Francis halfway in the BVI half only to see the latter put the ball straight to Butler. A couple of minutes later, Francis sent another fine pass that saw Orlando Mitchum breaking clear of the high BVI defense but indecision of the part of Mitchum saw BVI’s Venton James catching up with him to dispossess him while he was yards away from the goal.
Jason Lake of the home team again was set up with the ball and embarked on another enterprising run which looked like goal number two but Butler again capitalized on indecision to spoil the effort.
Zevon Archibald took matters into his own hands in the 31st minute from another enterprising attack and did not wait to enter the box, letting off a well placed shot from the top of the box above the arc to the far post to put his country 2-0 up.
Five minutes later, Francis went wide of the uprights again as St. Kitts continued their dominance over BVI, who looked very weak and un-penetrative up front, never threatening the home team’s defense and goalkeeper, Julani Archibald to any extent.
BVI, which boasts a number of players from other Caribbean Countries: Jamaica, St. Vincent & The Grenadines and Guyana among others, made their first change after 36 minutes, Raul Ettienne making way for Randy John.
The score line remained unchanged up to the break and on resumption BVI came out attacking, reeling off quite a few shots to the St. Kitts goal, the most threatening sent Kittitian goalie Archibald stretching to his left as he brought off a good save, the resulting corner was just the second of four the BVI would enjoy in the entire match.
But St. Kitts soon got back into their dominant stride as they held the ball at will, swinging it from side to side but again going wide of the mark when scoring opportunities were created.
Seven minutes into the second half, Butler was called into action, blocking the ball with both hands from a point blank shot, unfortunately, the ensuing rebound was blasted past him by his own teammate, Venton James, to the utter amazement of his colleagues.
The heat was turned up by the home team once again and, between the 60th and 70th minute of play, was concentrated in their opponent’s attacking third creating chance after chance but it was Butler spoiling the show for them.
Sealing the deal in the 77th minute to cap a fine win was Jevon Francis. The victory places St. Kitts at the top of the table with 3 points.
The British Virgin Islands will have to come strong against Barbados on Friday evening in the second game of the group with the final match up which will bring the curtains down on stage one of the 2008 Digicel Caribbean Championships between the host and Barbados set for Sunday.
St. Kitts: 1. Delroy Delaney, 14. Zevon Archibald (11. Stephen Clarke min 59), 2. Keithroy Richards, 16. Javin Matthew (4.Elvado Mitchum min 67), 10. Jason Lake, 7. George Issac, 13. Thrizen Leader, 9. Jevon Francis, 6. Irandy Byron, 15. Orlando Mitchum (17. Errol O’Loughlin min 79), 18. Shashi Isaac.
Subs: 01. Delroy Delaney- GK, 5. Rovin Wigley, 3. Earl Jones.
British Virgin Islands: 19. Venton James, 17. Ranelie Cain, 10. Lyndon Remy, 15. Andy Davis (8. Dwayne Ross min 79), 7. Raul Ettienne (12.Randy Johm min 36), 9. Fitzroy Daley (16. Rohan Lennon min 55), 18. Noel Issacs, 5. Elvis Williams, 14. Mervin Dainty, 11. Nano Ottley, 1. Montgomery Butler.
Subs: 13. Raymond Cummings, 4. Alex Green, 22. Henif James GK, 2. Jevorne Demming.
For match pictures and further information visit www.digicelfootball.com