Cayman picks up first point in Nations League qualifiers

Midfielder Theron Wood gets to the ball ahead of St Lucia's Lester Joseph.

The Cayman Islands picked up their first point in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying with a draw against St Lucia in their home debut of the competition on Saturday, 17 November.

Although no goals were scored, the game had moments of excitement. Spectators were still getting to their seats when a chance for the hosts ended with the ball hitting the cross bar.

An early chance for the hosts brought the crowd to life.

Forward Mark Ebanks looked determined to get his first goal of the campaign but pushing forward toward the goal in the first half, the last man to score for the Cayman Islands in international competition, pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury and would play no further part.

There were several opportunities for both sides but neither had their best finishing on display. A case in point, Michael Martin found himself with just the keeper to beat late in the game with Cayman’s best chance but the moment got the better of him as his shot was high of the mark.

Michael Martin watches as his shot sails high.

A scoreless encounter saw the teams split the points. St Lucia moved on to four points after a win against Antigua and Barbuda and then a loss to Haiti. This was Cayman’s best result after losses to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic during the first two rounds of qualifying.

Defender Joshewa Frederick, who was one of the stars in the game for the home side, was full of praise for his teammates. “We gave everything. We can’t complain with the result, the boys [ground] it out until the end, that’s all you can ask for.”

Highlights: Cayman Islands 0 – 0 St. Lucia#CNL #TheDreamStartsNow

Posted by Nations League on Saturday, November 17, 2018

Goalkeeper Ramon Sealy agreed. “We knew that we had to fight…I can see a lot of guys pushing to the end. That’s the fight that we need to have going forward.”

Cayman Islands starting XI
Back row: (L-R) Theron Wood, Joshewa Frederick, Ramon Sealy, Andres Ruiz, Jonah Ebanks, Tyleter Lee. Front row: Karl Solomon, Michael Martin, Brian Martin, Jermaine Wilson, Mark Ebanks.

Coming in, he said ball possession was something the team needed to work on. They maintained possession 42 percent of the time, their highest through three games. “It was pretty even. They had their chances, we had ours [but] they had a bit more of the possession than we would have liked,” Sealy said.

Official attendance was listed at 1,510 spectators who came to rally the home side.

“The home crowd was amazing. This was my first time playing in front of Cayman [for the national team] and I absolutely loved it,” Frederick said.

Sealy added: “It was good to finally get out here and perform in front of them. It’s been about three and a half years and they really came out and showed us the support. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the goal that we wanted to win the game. We had a few chances but we didn’t put them away but that’s the game.”

St Lucia’s captain, midfielder Zaine Pierre, gave his assessment to “We outplayed them but unfortunately, we could not get the ball in the back of the net. We are very disappointed to not come out with the win tonight but we just have to keep our heads up and look forward to the next game.”

A near capacity TE McField Grandstand.

Meantime, Sealy who captained Cayman through the first two games of Nations League qualifying is hoping to build on the performance for in their next home game in March. “We have a point now, so maybe we can go and get a win versus Montserrat, so that would put us in a good position going forward,” he said.

There will also be questions about the selection process, as Wesley Robinson was made to sit on the substitutes bench until the second half, while attacking midfielder Christopher Reeves, who played in the prior two games, was not among the 21 players dressed for the game.

St Lucia starters.

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