Late flourish sets stage for U-23 Boyz win over Cayman

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Monday, March 09, 2015

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CATHERINE HALL, St James -- A late flourish of goals, three in the final five minutes of regulation time, carried Jamaica's Under-23s to a less than convincing 4-0 win over their Cayman Islands counterparts in their CONCACAF Olympic qualifying warm-up friendly series at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Sunday evening.

The decent turn out of fans had little to cheer for most of the game which was played at a pedestrian pace for long periods.

Romario Williams in the 30th minute and three second-half substitutes -- Leon bailey in the 85th, Christopher Ingram in the 87th and Kendon Anderson in the 90th -- scored for the home team.

Miguel Coley, coach of Jamaica, admitted his charges looked less than a cohesive unit in the first half: explaining they had just been together a week and some players had joined camp only the day before.

"I was pleased with the second half, we looked more fluid and the content was very good," he said. "I think the personnel that went on in the second half looked a lot better than those who started, so that is something to look at as this is still a selection process. But I was pleased with the second half."

With about four months to go before they start competition, Coley said the players had time to get their act together. "The qualifiers start in July, and we hope to get at least 10 practice games to see how we match up and test ourselves,"he said.

There are plans, he said, to play local teams and even the local-based national senior team during the period, while he hopes there will be an international camp and games leading up to the start of their phase of qualifying.

Coley, who coaches schoolboy champions Jamaica College, said he was pleased with the talent at his disposal at the national level. "I am satisfied with who we have now, but we have some that can come in, like Alvas Powell, Jamar Loza and Andre Lewis, to name a few... we hope they can fit into the system and play for the country and fight for results," noted Coley.

Cayman coach, Alexander Gonzales, was happy with what he saw of his team after their 3-1 loss to Red Stripe Premier League side Montego Bay United hours after arriving in the island on Friday.

"We are very pleased with the shape and the discipline we saw tonight as that's more or less what we plan to do moving forward," the Cuban-born coach told the Jamaica Observer through an interpreter.

"We know that we need to get some additional people in, perhaps more mature players when we make substitutions," he added.

Cayman will play Belize in the first round of the Olympic qualifying tournament later this month, and Gonzales said the four-day camp here was good for his charges. "We are pleased with the tour... we do not take into account the first game as we know the players were very tired and we expected that, but playing against a much better Jamaican Under 23 team, we take confidence in the performance especially in the first 75 minutes of the game."

Despite dominating the possession, Jamaica had little to show as a few good saves from starting goalkeeper Ramon Sealey and faulty shooting from the Jamaicans kept them off the score sheet.

Williams dragged a shot wide in the sixth minute, while Sealey came off his line to block another shot two minutes later and Sean McFarlane headed a ball just high in the 12th minute.

The deadlock was broken in the 30th minute when Junior Flemmings got by two defenders on the right and crossed the ball to Williams, who controlled just on the edge of the 18-yards area and fired past Sealey.

Damion Lowe should have added a second in the 42nd minute, but he fired high from a corner taken by Hugh Evans.

The visitors had the best chance in the 68th minute when Andres Ruiz, who had scored against MBU, shook off two defenders on the left and his shot beat goalkeeper Nico Campbell, but hit the top of the crossbar and went out.

Jamaica eventually added a second goal in the 85th minute when Bailey, who replaced Jason Wright in the 61st minute, beat substitute goalkeeper Danner Taylor with a free-kick from about 22 yards, the ball going under the diving custodian.

It was 3-0 two minutes later when Ingram curled a ball from the left side just outside the 18-yard box high into the far corner giving Taylor no chance.

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