Being so geographically close, these two teams are very familiar with each other, and traditionally St. Martin has come out on top in the vast majority of previous meetings. Not very often have they played in such difficult conditions, heavy rainfall just before kick-off made this former baseball ground an extremely tricky surface.
Anguilla opened brightly with the conditions immediately playing their part, a relatively routine ball for the St. Martin keeper was very nearly spilled to the on rushing attackers but Franck Martin managed to reclaim the ball just before they could pounce. St. Martin soon came into the game and completely dominated the next fifteen minutes. The danger signs were evident when Vigneau played a dangerous ball across the face of the goal but no forward could get the vital touch, a chance goes begging. On fourteen minutes the deadlock was broken by Virgile from St. Martin with a very similar strike to his goal on Saturday, a rocket of a shot with his right foot diagonally across the box rifled into the top left hand corner. This was actually better than his first goal and was arguably the strike of the tournament so far.
Back came Anguilla nearly straight from tip-off, a speculative ball into the box resulted in Rodgers’s determination forcing the ball through to Brooks, managed to dig the ball out from under his feet and place a side footed effort low and hard to the keeper’s left, the equalizer for Anguilla. This was a great reaction to going one down from Coach Scott Cooper’s side.
The match was in a balance at this point with both teams seeking the vital opening, Anguilla had won a number of free kicks and on 37 minutes took the lead from an excellent delivery and an even better finish from the head of Brooks as he glanced home from close range. The warning signs had been there for St. Martin, Anguilla had threatened on a number of occasions, and have been very strong from set pieces. Anguilla now had the lead for the second time in this Group, the question was did they have the self-belief to hold on this time.
In the second half it was all St. Martin, they literally had Anguilla pinned back. They came out firing right from the start, within two minutes Chamlet was through but missed a glorious chance. The Goalkeeper did well to deny him but also needed the help of his defense to get the ball over the end line to safety. On 53 minutes St. Martin were through again and this time the keeper was stranded but a brilliant diving block from Kelsick prevented what seemed destined for the back of the net. Vigneau and the rest of the St. Martin team must have begun to wonder was it going to be one of those nights.
While Chalmet and the St. Martin midfield were in complete control at this point, the Anguilla defense actually became more comfortable, they showed immense spirit to keep St. Martin at bay. In fact St. Martin’s best chances fell in the opening minutes of the half. While it was an outstanding defensive display from the entire team, Anguilla’s two central defenders Hawley and Jeffers were a tower of strength.
In the final few minutes, while Anguilla was mostly defending, they actually came close to scoring a third, again from a set piece. The final play of the game saw a corner floated in from St. Martin but the Anguilla defense stood firm, and when the final whistle blew you the joy and excitement from the Anguilla team was clear to see. Coach Cooper commended on his team’s performance “these guys can consider themselves national heroes tonight, their work rate and determination was immense, and the finishing, when we had our chances, was first rate.” Brooks, Anguilla’s scorer of their first goal said “I was delighted to get the goal but more pleased with the victory, this will give football a great boost in Anguilla, we have worked very hard for the Digicel Cup, so it was great to get this reward.”
Well done Anguilla!