A stoppage time free kick saw a hard fought Barbados Tridents side lose 3-2 to Montserrat in their opening 2023/2024 CONCACAF Nations League match in League B, Group B at the Wildey Turf last night.
It took just six minutes for the visitors to open the scoring as 33-year-old centre forward and captain Lyle Taylor made no mistake from close range after some tidy work down the left flank to create the opportunity. The celebrations on the Montserrat bench were still going on when Elijah Downey equalised for the Tridents with a delicate finish just 60 seconds later. After skipping past two opponents, Thierry Gale spotted Downey making a clever run into the box from midfield and fed it into him. Downey took the ball in his stride and slotted it through the legs of opposing goalkeeper Kymani Nelson before wheeling away to the adoring support.
Barbadians would get a further illustration of what their million dollar man was all about when he applied the finishing touches to a well-worked goal to put Barbados ahead in the 26th minute. Gale cushioned a lofted pass down the left channel into his path which took right wing back Julian McDonald out of the game. From there he played a one-two around central defender Nico Gordon with striker Hallam Hope whose wall pass allowed Gale to have the easiest of finishes into the bottom right corner.
Buoyed by being in front, Barbados continued to attack down the left hand side but failed to provide Gale with any real opportunities to commit a disjoined Montserrat defence that looked out at sea. As half time approached, the Tridents left the back door open when seeking a third and they were nearly punished as a shot from Joey Taylor crashed off the post.
In the second half the game became more transitional as both teams looked to exploit any space left in behind. There were calls for a Barbadian penalty to be awarded as Oldham striker Hope appeared to be fouled in the box by keeper Nelson. Barbados’ number nine knew deep down that would have been avoided had he slotted away his chance 1v1 just moments earlier. As chances and opportunities continued to be spurned by the hosts, heads started to drop as this side so unfamiliar with winning failed to pounce on a chance to do just that.
That particular miss proved costly as once again, crosses into the box would be the downfall of the Barbados national team. Nobody dealt with an aerial cross into the area and substitute Adrian Clifton crept in at the back post to equalise at 2-2 and take the momentum.
It was always going to take a moment of magic to decide this evenly fought contest and that moment arose in the 92nd minute, twenty five yards out from goal. Halftime substitute Ranaldo Trim gave away a needless free kick in the dying embers of the game that could have been won just moments earlier as a cross flashed across the Montserrat box.
Free agent Lyle Taylor showed exactly why he was on the books of Premier League club Nottingham Forest when he bent a magnificent free kick into the top right corner, leaving goalkeeper Liam Brathwaite rooted to the spot. It was the captain’s 12th goal for his nation in just his 14th appearance and his fourth in CONCACAF Nations League matches.
The Barbados Tridents will look to pick up their first points of the group stage on Sunday when they face Nicaragua at the Nicaragua National Football Stadium. Nicaragua were 2-0 winners last night over the Dominican Republic thanks to goals from Matias Moldskred Belli and Oscar Acevedo.