Bermuda end qualifiers on high note
Little more than 48 hours after his FA Cup wonder goal, Nahki Wells smashed home another screamer to help Bermuda finish their World Cup qualifying campaign on a winning note.
Wells, whose stunning goal at the weekend gave Bradford victory over Rochdale, struck from 25-yards to wrong-foot Barbados goalkeeper Bentley Springer at the start of the second half.
Bermuda skipper Khano Smith doubled the lead with a penalty for the second straight game 17 minutes later, after Springer had brought down substitute striker Antwan Russell.
Barbados, who were the designated home team after requesting to switch the fixture to save costs, grabbed a late consolation goal when Sheridon Grosvenor followed up a Carl Joseph free kick that cannoned off the woodwork.
With little at stake for either side, the match inevitably resembled a pre-season friendly at times with Bermuda certainly lacking the urgency they displayed in their earlier qualifiers.
Although, one player who must have missed the memo that last night's match at the National Sports Centre was no more than an exercise in playing for pride was show-stopper Wells.
The 21-year-old, fresh from his goalscoring exploits for Bradford, stood out like a beacon amidst the ordinariness, reaffirming his growing reputation as the bright young thing of Bermuda football.
Wells, who only arrived on the Island on Sunday, was the fulcrum at the heart of most of Bermuda's best moves, creating a wonderful chance with a defence-splitting pass for Domico Coddington whose first-time strike was well saved by Springer.
The former Dandy Town man then went close to scoring himself when he bamboozled his marker with some quick feet before curling a left foot effort inches wide of the far post.
Wells then released Lashun Dill down the right whose centre was hooked onto the crossbar, and then set up Kwame Steede with a neat cutback which the Devonshire Cougars midfielder somehow stabbed wide with just the keeper to beat.
Guileless and bereft of imagination, Barbados rarely threatened during the first period other than a close range effort by Kyle Gibson, which was blocked by Bermuda keeper Tahj Bell. And it was no surprise when Bermuda look the lead through Wells, who repeated his weekend's trick of scoring from distance, letting fly with a drive which dipped beyond the outstretched glove of Springer.
In truth, Wells' strike wasn't packed with the same dynamite as the one which lit up the Coral Windows Stadium on Saturday, not to mention that Springer completely misjudged the trajectory of the ball.
Nevertheless, it still had plenty of bums-off seat brilliance about it with Wells admitting his confidence in his shooting radar is sky high at the moment. “During the break I was told to let a shot off if I had the chance and the first real effort I had went in,” said Wells.
“It was a good goal but more importantly we got the win. During the first half I tried to be unselfish and I think we were unlucky not to have been leading at half-time.
“We didn't have too much to play for other than pride and moving up the (FIFA) rankings, but it was a good way to end the campaign.”
Bermuda doubled their lead midway through the second half when Russell latched on to a hoofed clearance from Smith, racing clear of the Barbados backline before being tripped in the box by the outrushing Springer.
Just as he did against the Bajan Tridents on Remembrance Day, Smith showed nerves of steel and stepped up to stroke the ball past Springer for his third goal for the qualifying campaign.
In the absence of John Barry Nusum, who had limped off earlier in the half, Bermuda were looking less than assured in defence with Barbados showing slightly more attacking intent during the latter stages of the match.
Moments before the final whistle Smith gave away a free kick on just outside the Bermuda box which was hammered against the post by Joseph. The loose ball fell invitingly to Grosvenor who fired home from the edge of the box.
But it was too little too late for Barbados who suffered their sixth successive qualifying defeat against a Bermuda team who have now won three of their last four games.
Bermuda are second in Group B, one point ahead of Trinidad who play Guyana today. Guyana have already won the group having taken 13 points from five games.
For a video clip of Wells' goal click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9biADFWTtu8
Barbados: B Springer, M Ranaldo, D Griffith, M Harte (D Mars, 72), J Parris (Capt), B Skeete, J Straker, R Miller, K Gibson, T Parris (C Joseph, 68), S Grosvenor
Substitutes not used: R Burgess
Goals: S Grovesnor, 90
Bookings: K Gibson, 66, T Parris, 69, B Springer, 76 Lovell, 85
Bermuda: T Bell, T Burgess, J Barry Nusum (A Russell, 56) K Smith (Capt), T Manders, K Steede, L Dill (A Simmons, 65), D Coddington (D Ming, 56), N Wells
Substitutes not used: D Eve, S Darrell, K Tucker, M Waldron, Q Maynard
Goals: Wells, 45, Smith (pen) 72
Bookings: Nusum, 52, Smith 76
Referee: R Moreno (Panama)
Man of the match: Wells (Bermuda)