The Charlotte Eagles took their first victory of the USL PRO season as an own goal by Antigua Barracuda FC defender Luke Blakely in the sixth minute and a stab home by Eagles forward Daryl Roberts in the 57th minute, which also deflected off the feet of Blakely, gave them a 2-0 victory at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday night.
In a game where the Eagles had clearly learnt some valuable lessons from the team’s first meeting on Thursday night, the Eagles controlled the play for most of the first half, denying space for the powerful Antiguan forwards Peter Byers and Stefan Smith, and denying possession to the Antiguan midfield.
With patient build up play and effective use of the flanks, they out-maneuvered the home team to find an opening. When it came, the opening arrived with a slice of good fortune as Blakely, in an attempt to clear the ball, deflected it into the back of his own net from a low cross from the left that left goalkeeper Molvin James helpless.
The home crowd was looking for a response from the home team, but for the rest of the half, they failed to provide the required spark, much to the disappointment of their fans.
Barracudas coach Tom Curtis rang the changes at halftime, introducing Lawson Robinson and Tamorley Thomas in the hope of lifting the team. But 12 minutes into the second half, the Barracuda defense failed to clear a simple cross and Roberts’ low shot from the left side of the penalty area deflected off the feet of Blakely and into the net to add to his nightmare night.
All was not lost for Antigua, as a handball in the Eagles’ penalty area provided Antigua with its third penalty in four matches in the 60th minute. In the previous games Byers had missed both, and the in-form Smith followed suit clearing the crossbar with his attempt.
“Tonight we were flat and just could not find that extra effort to duplicate the good performance from Thursday night,” said Curtis. “We are a better team than that but it was not our night. Give credit to Charlotte, they were better than us on the night.”
Antigua will now engage in a road trip that will see the team matchup against Wilmington Hammerheads this Wednesday night at Legion Stadium, followed by a trip to face the Charleston Battery on Friday night at Blackbaud Stadium. Before the Barracudas return home, they will also be competing in the CONCACAF Champions League in Trinidad, from May 6th to 10th.
Charlotte will remain on the road as they visit the Rochester Rhinos next Saturday at Sahlen’s Stadium.