BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Nov. 26, 2015–Two back matches, one from Week 8 – Belmopan Bandits vs Verdes at the FFB Stadium, and one from Week 9 – BDF vs Police United at the Norman Broaster Stadium, were played last night; and the results have ended the playoff hopes for BDF, and confirmed the 4 teams that will enter the Premier League of Belize (PLB) Opening Season 2015-2016 playoffs.
Police United 1:0 BDF
Desperate for a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, BDF held Police United scoreless until the 71st minute at the Norman Broaster, when Police’s Harrison “Cafu” Roches found the back of the net, resulting in a Police United 1-nil win. Police are now at the top of the standings, while BDF, at 8 points, can no longer make the playoffs.
Bmp Bandits 1:1 Verdes FC
Meanwhile at the FFB Stadium, Verdes FC, with 12 points going into their contest with home standing Belmopan Bandits FC, could not feel secure, as BDF could still make 14 pts with two victories in their remaining games. Uncertain of the results in San Ignacio, Verdes was playing for the win; and so were the Bandits, who, with 14 pts could take no chances against a BDF late surge to end the regular season.
Preceded by a heavy twenty minute downpour, according to reports received, it was a moist and heavy pitch at the FFB Stadium last night, where a scanty hundred plus fans were well entertained by a very intense physical as well as tactical battle between two evenly matched teams. There were no water puddles to stop the ball rolling, but the film of water on the ground under the grass cover was enough to detract from short passing effectiveness, leading to many turnovers, and rendering the long ball, most effectively employed by Bandits sweeper Elroy Smith, a formidable offensive weapon, especially in counterattack. It was one of those long drops by Smith into the Verdes territory that saw Bandits left midfield/winger Evan Mariano out-jump the smaller Verdes right defender Ryan Gill and deflect the air ball behind the defensive wall, where the streaking veteran, Jerome “Jarro” James got a step ahead of Verdes’ sweeper Cristobal Gilharry, and right away sent his shot to the right corner past a diving Yusef Guerra in goal for Verdes. 1-nil, Bandits, at the 25th minute.
It was almost 2-nil a couple minutes later, when Jarro got a similar opportunity on the right side, but he hesitated, and when Guerra came out of his goal to narrow the angle, Jarro’s lob went high over the cross bar.
But perhaps the best opportunity in first half came just 8 minutes into the ball game, when a heavily marked Deon McCaulay sent a through pass for Verdes left midfielder Nahjib Guerra; but Guerra, surprised by the sudden golden opportunity, delayed long enough for Bandits sweeper, Elroy Smith to block his attempt.
The game saw a lot of rough, even dirty tactics, some of which appeared to escape referee Christopher Reid, and eventually resulted in a frustrated Denmark Casey, the Bandits star midfielder, being ejected at the 85th minute after his repeated verbal complaints and harsh words to referee Reid about the physical abuse he was enduring at the hands of Verdes’ midfielders Silva and Mendez.
In first half, the Bandits midfield of Evan Mariano, Denmark Casey, Khalil Velasquez and Ian Gaynair (alternating with Tyrone Pandy in defence) was “mano-mano” with Verdes’ Ricardo “Cheety” Jimenez, Brazilian Yoras Silva, captain Rodney Pacheco and Nahjib Guerra; but with the insertion of dribbling wizard Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton for Cheety early in second half, the “balance of power” noticeably shifted. Bandits responded with their first substitution, young Edmund Pandy, Jr. for the veteran Evan Mariano in midfield, but a minute later Verdes’ Deon McCaulay was the recipient of a “break-through” pass following an intercepted Bandits’ pass in Verdes’ half, and Deon was clinical in execution, beating oncoming Bandits goalie Jerry Trejo, and then avoiding two defenders with his low shot to the right corner, to tie up the score at 1-1 at the 66th minute. Three minutes later, the Bandits responded with another change, this time going offensive with attacker Highking Roberts in place of defender Shane Armstrong; but Bredda continued to be a headache, teaming up with Silva in the Verdes attack; and when Silva drew the Bandits goalie on his drive on the right side, and sent a high cross to the left side, it seemed to be a certain goal, as Deon was trailing the play all the way, and was practically on the goal line when his would-be tap in rebounded off the chest of a diving Trejo, who had somehow reached the other side of the goal in time for the deflection. Trejo also faced one-on-one situations, and came out successful against close range attempts from Bredda, whose shot went high, as well as Jarret Davis and Nahjib Guerra, whose shots were easily collected.
On the other end, Verdes’ Yusef Guerra was also busy and severely tested by a low bullet from the top of the eighteen by Bandits midfielder Khalil Velasquez; but a diving Guerra stretched his arms to full length and just managed to push it off past the right goal post at the 78th minute.
It was a very keen contest that could have gone either way, and the 1-1 draw reflects that. There was a lot of fine talent on display on both sides, which could have made for an even more entertaining match on a more dry pitch. But our Player of Game has to be 20 year old Bandits goalkeeper, Jerry Trejo, who hails from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, and was most instrumental in avoiding a Verdes win.
Goals: Belmopan Bandits FC – Jerome “Jarro” James 25’; Verdes FC – Deon McCaulay 66’.
Belmopan Bandits FC – #22 Jerry Trejo (goalkeeper); #17 Evral Trapp; #8 Elroy Smith; #23 Tyrone Pandy (#3 Norman Anderson at 77’); #4 Shane Armstrong (#9 Highking Roberts at 69’); #6 Evan Mariano (#14 Edmond Pandy, Jr. at 65’); #12 Denmark Casey; #11 Khalil Velasquez; #7 Ian Gaynair; #5 Elroy Kuylen; #15 Jerome James. Coach – Jorge Nunez.
Verdes FC – #22 Yusef Guerra (goalkeeper); #26 Willian Nascimento; #30 Chris Gilharry; #34 Ryan Gill; #6 Rodney Pacheco; #7 Nahjib Guerra; #3 San Mendez; #25 Yoras Silva; #8 Ricardo Jimenez (#24 Gilroy Thurton at 49’); #9 Deon McCaulay; #10 Jarret Davis (#20 Marlon Molina at 84’). Coach – Walter Salazar.
Week 10 decides playoff seedings
The draw, and with the result in San Ignacio, means that 4 teams – Police United, Placencia Texmar Assassins, Belmopan Bandits and Verdes FC – have definitely qualified for the playoffs (see standings below); and their last remaining games this weekend will determine the playoff semifinal seedings, #1 facing #4, and #2 facing #3.
Week 10 to end regular season:
Saturday, November 28
7:30 p.m. – Wagiya FC vs Placencia Assassins FC – Michael Ashcroft Stadium
7:30 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits FC vs BDF FC – FFB Stadium
Sunday November 29
4:00 p.m. – Police United FC vs Verdes FC – Norman Broaster Stadium