Sports — 19 February 2013

Week 2 is in the books for the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2012-2013 Closing Season, and already there are only 2 teams still undefeated – defending champion Belmopan Bandits FC and Belize Defense Force FC.

With last season’s MVP Woodrow West exploring his options in the U.S., defending champions Belmopan Bandits turned to seasoned veteran William Johnson, who broke his leg in the first game of a Super League season a couple years ago with City Boys United. And, despite a couple close calls, Johnson and the Bandits are off to a stellar start, being the only team not to concede a goal so far in the competition. On Saturday night at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, the home-standing Bandits took advantage of a penalty opportunity, when striker Brandon Peyrefitte was taken down in the eighteen, and David Trapp converted for Bandits at the 27th minute. The equalizer almost came early in second half, when San Felipe defender Andrew Allen sent a swerving center that Johnson had difficulty corralling; but recently inserted San Felipe striker Eder Evans was too eager to strike the high bouncing ball in front of an open goal, and mis-fired. A Brandon-Peyrefitte free kick from the left side in the closing moments found an open Ian Gaynair on the right side, and Gaynair made no mistake, directing his header down in the right corner to close the curtain on San Felipe, 2-nil, at the 89th minute.

The other Saturday night encounter was farther west at the Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo, where visiting San Ignacio United grabbed the 1-nil victory over Verdes FC on a goal by Leonard Valdez (48’).

The other two PLB games were on Sunday afternoon.

The surprise striker early in this season has to be Belize Defense Force FC’s Paul Nunez, who struck twice in the season opener last week; and again yesterday, at the Norman Broaster Stadium in San Ignacio, Paul had the golden touch, opening the scoring for BDF at the 42nd minute. Luis “Baca” Torres equalized for Placencia at the 56th minute, but Shane Flores got the game winner for BDF in injury time (90+’) for the 2-1 army victory.

Here at the MCC Grounds in Belize City, fans had to wait until the resumption after half-time to witness the much anticipated return to action of veteran legend Norman “Tilliman” Pipersburgh in the FC Belize uniform against the star-studded Police United FC squad. Only Cristobal Gilharry of FC Belize is from the national team, while Police United’s roster includes 5 national team members – Trevor “Burger” Lennon, Evan Mariano, Devon Makin, Andres Makin, Jr., and Shannon Flowers. Another, striker Danny Jimenez, is considered a sure bet for the national team, except that Danny was unable to attend training due to Police internship duties. Neither Burger nor midfielder Amin August, Jr. saw action for Police yesterday, due to red cards last week. Another veteran star joining the FC Belize campaign yesterday was Mark “Kelo” Leslie, himself, like Tilliman, a former national team player. The only goal of the game came at the 30th minute, when FC Belize’s diminutive but feisty striker, little John King ran down a ball near the left goal line and managed to center it on the ground across the goal. San Felipe goalkeeper Keith Allen dived to collect the ball, but it bounced free of his grasp momentarily, and trailing FC Belize striker Michael Hernandez pounced on the loose ball and drove it into the net for the 1-nil lead. The score was almost equalized two minutes later, when Evan Mariano’s corner from the right side was met by Devon Makin with a low right-footed volley that saw FC Belize goalie Glenford Chimilio make a diving save; but the ball bounced high and was still about to cross the goal line, when sweeper Leon “Chow” Cadle cleared to save the day for FC Belize.

The net did not tighten again in the game, but there were many more “oohs” and “aaahs” from the MCC crowd on both ends, as there were a number of near misses and a few attempts that went far wide of the target. Though obviously not yet comfortable coming off the bench, Tilliman proved that he still has the feather touch and laser precision in “setting the table” with beautiful run through passes for the young FC Belize strikers Stephen Baizer and John King, neither of whom was able to finish effectively.

The season is young, but already there are some big match-ups this weekend that fans are talking about – Bandits vs Police, a repeat of last season’s finals; and FC Belize vs BDF, an old -time City rivalry, from the days when BDF used to play their home games at the MCC.

Week 3 schedule:
Saturday, February 23
7:30 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits FC vs Police United FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, February 24
3:30 p.m. – Placencia Assassins FC vs Verdes FC – Placencia Football Field
3:30 p.m. – San Ignacio United FC vs FC San Felipe Barcelona – Norman Broaster Stadium
4:00 p.m. – FC Belize vs Belize Defense Force FC – MCC Grounds

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