Detre Bell spares Bermuda’s blushes in draw with Cayman Islands
Bermuda 1 Cayman Islands 1
Bermuda ended their World Cup qualifying campaign by being held to a 1-1 draw by Cayman Islands at the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, last night.
Having suffered a humbling 6-0 defeat by Surinam on Friday, hopes were high of Bermuda making amends against a nation who had lost all three of their previous group B encounters, scoring just once and conceding 17 goals in the process.
However, it was not to be as Kyle Lightbourne’s side were forced to come from behind with Kole Hall’s first international goal in the 65th minute, rescuing a point after Mark Ebanks’s 23rd-minute opener had given Cayman Islands the half-time advantage.
The result ensured that Bermuda — whose hopes of progressing from the group were ended after Friday’s defeat — finished the campaign in third place in the standings with four points, behind Surinam and group winners Canada, who move on to the next round of qualification.
Lightbourne made five changes to his starting line-up from the defeat by Surinam with goalkeeper Detre Bell handed his debut in place of Dale Eve, while Azende Furbert, Richard Jones, Justin Bell and London Jackson Steede came in for Roger Lee, Trey Tucker, Jomei Bean-Lindo and the injured Lejaun Simmons.
After the match, Lightbourne defended his selection, saying: “With our chances of qualifying gone we had to take the opportunity to look at a number of players within our squad and see what they were capable of at this level.
“In normal circumstances we should definitely be beating a side like that, I’m in no doubt about that, but I had to have a look at certain players.”
It was Cayman Islands who should have broken the deadlock in just the third minute but captain Joshewa Frederick-Charley failed to capitalise on a golden opportunity, heading a dangerous inswinging corner from the left wide.
The let-off acted a warning shot to Bermuda, who responded strongly and could have opened the scoring themselves ten minutes later. Again the opportunity came from a corner as Rahzir Jones’s delivery from right fell to Richard Jones inside the area, only for the defender to slice his effort harmlessly wide.
Lightbourne’s side failed to heed the warning from the opening opportunity as Cayman again came close from another corner from the left in the sixteenth minute. This time it was Andre McFarlane, who rose highest to head towards goal, only for Bell to deny him brilliantly with a point-blank one-handed save to his left.
Building on that momentum, Cayman found a break through in the 23rd minute as Mark Ebanks was played through on goal on the right-hand side by D'Andre Rowe, and beat the onrushing Bell with a smart finish into the far left bottom corner.
It took Bermuda until the 45th minute to finally test goalkeeper Albertini Holness with the custodian fortunate not to concede after fumbling Rahzir Jones’s free kick from the edge of the area, before managing to reclaim the ball as Willie Clemons attempted to prod home the rebound.
That proved to be the last action of the half and having survived the late scare, Cayman held the slender advantage at the interval.
Ben Pugh’s started the sharper of the two sides after the restart and created an opening almost immediately. A smart one-two released Kareem Foster down the right-hand side with his low cross finding Mark Ebanks, who could only slice his first-time effort harmlessly wide of the far upright.
Bermuda began to get a foothold on proceedings and finally began to create probing attacks. In the 60th minute Luke Robinson picked up possession on the left and drove into the area before seeing his attempted shot diverted narrowly past the far post.
However, Lightbourne’s side were given a major let-off in the 63rd minute as Mason Duval did brilliantly down the left-hand side, before picking out Kion Parchmont unmarked at the far post only for the substitute to scuff his first-time effort wide, when he should have at least tested Bell.
He was made to rue his profligacy just two minutes later as Bermuda got themselves on level terms courtesy of Hall’s first international goal, beating Holness from close range.
With ten minutes remaining Cayman Islands came inches away from retaking the lead. A straight ball down the right-hand side again released the lively Mark Ebanks, who beat the onrushing Bell to the ball, only to see his effort clip the outside of the near post.
With just 30 seconds of the five minutes added on, Bell ensured Bermuda held on for a point, spectacularly denying substitute Barry Tibbetts, whose curling effort from the edge of the area looked destined for the top left corner before the custodian managed to stretch out a firm right hand and tip the ball over the bar.
Lightbourne said: “In truth Cayman scored have two or three more and we were thankful to Detre [Bell] for making a number of really good saves. Collectively we were nowhere near good enough, it’s as simple as that.
“For some reason we didn’t make the most of some certain opportunities to create in the final third. Once they went ahead it became difficult for us, particularly the longer it took for us to get back on terms. Credit to them, they looked dangerous and could have won it. Quality wise, we just weren’t good enough.”
Bermuda: Hall 65
Cayman Islands: Ebanks 23
Bermuda (4-5-1): D Bell – R Jones (sub: J Outerbridge, 46min), T Harris, A Furbert, E Blankendal (sub: D Usher, 71) – J Bell (sub: K Bean, 71), L Steede-Jackson, W Clemons, R Smith-Jones (sub: C Robinson, 61), L Robinson – K Hall (sub: E Russell, 71). Substitutes not used: D Eve, Q Hunt, R Lee, J Bean-Lindo, L Simmons, D Richardson.
Cayman Islands (4-3-3): A Holness – C Gray, W Robinson, J Frederick-Charley, A McFarlane – M Duval, T Wood (sub: K Parchmont, 57), D Rowe (sub: B Tibbetts, 85) – K Foster, J Ebanks (sub: A Browning, 90), M Ebanks. Substitutes not used: D Lee, A Hyde, R Dixon, J Byles, T Lee. Booked: Rowe.
Referee: R Vazquez (United States).