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Bermuda survive scare as Simons hits hat-trick

Bermuda 4 Guadeloupe 3

Rai Simons reaffirmed his reputation as the “bright young thing” of Bermudian football after helping himself to a hat-trick against Guadeloupe in the opening game of the CFU Under-20 World Cup qualifiers yesterday.

Bermuda, who led the game 4-1 at one point courtesy of Simons' deadly finishing, breathed a sigh of relief at the final whistle, having endured a nail-biting finish after two late goals from a bellicose Guadeloupe.

Regarded by some as Bermuda's main rivals to finishing top of group two, which also includes hosts Dominican Republic and Antigua, Guadeloupe were gifted an early goal when a poor clearance from Jaquille Hill, the Bermuda goalkeeper, fell invitingly for an opposing striker.

But Bermuda restored parity almost immediately when Jaz Ratteray-Smith, the pacey Somerset Trojans winger, latched on to a through ball to poke beyond the outrushing Guadeloupe goalkeeper.

Simons, whose game seems to have come on leaps and bounds since signing professional terms for English Non-League side Ilkeston, opened his account moments before the interval after being released by a defence-splitting pass from Zaire Burchall, of Dandy Town. Soon after the restart, Simons gave Bermuda a two-goal cushion and then competed his hat-trick midway through the second period, finishing off a free-flowing passing move involving five of his team-mates.

Quintonio Lema, considered by Dennis Brown, the Bermuda coach, as one of the most promising right backs the Island has produced in a long time, delivered the all-important cross for Simons to tap home with the simplest of finishes.

Bermuda, who made a double substitution on 64 minutes with Kiuno Cann and Justin Donawa replacing Jibre Salaam and Chae Brangman, then conceded a soft goal after their back four was punished after being caught napping.

Brown responded by making his final change with Chikosi Basden coming on for Burchall, but the switch failed to quell Guadeloupe's momentum with Bermuda conceding again after failing to clear their lines from a corner in the final minute.

It proved too little, too late for Guadeloupe, with Bermuda hanging on for a victory that represents a major fillip in their hopes of advancing to the final round of qualifying.

The winners of each group and the two best second-placed teams will advance to Trinidad & Tobago in September.

Brown, who had expressed concerns on his Facebook page about the poor conditions at the team's hotel the day before the game, will be hoping his side can build on their hard-fought win when they play the Dominican Republic tomorrow at 5.30pm.

“Overall [it was] a good result for the team but [there were] also some lessons learned ... no matter what the lead, we must not fall asleep,” Brown said.

“We showed good character to bounce right back after going down 1-0.

“We lapsed for a few moments to let them back in the game but we hung tough to finish [with the victory]. There's no time for us to be content; we must push on.”

Goal hero: Simons, right, gave Bermuda a bright start in the Dominican Republic

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Published June 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm (Updated June 25, 2014 at 11:29 pm)

Bermuda survive scare as Simons hits hat-trick

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