After three goalless games, the Cayman Islands national senior men’s squad finally got on the scoreboard Friday (22 March) in a gritty 2-1 loss to Montserrat in the final game of the CONCACAF Nations League qualification stage held at the Ed Bush Playing Field.
The loss solidifies Cayman (0-1-3) in the ‘C League’ of the inaugural Nations League starting in September finishing 29 out of 34 teams. Monsterrat (3-0-1) fell to 11th overall, missing out on their first Gold Cup appearance by a +3 goal differential to El Salvador for the final spot.
In the first half, Cayman struggled to move the ball up the pitch with a long ball approach against a physical Emerald Boys defense. In the 40th minute, a Montserrat free kick soared into the Cayman box, striking midfielder Matthew Suberan on the forearm. Forward Adrian Clifton buried the ensuing penalty to give Montserrat a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Cayman finally broke through as Michael Martin led a counterattack into Montserrat territory finding a streaking Mark Ebanks down the wing who chipped past goalkeeper Corrin Brooks for the equalizer.
Later in the second, a failed clearance attempt between keeper Ramon Sealy and defender Lucas Christian saw Montserrat’s Bradley Woods pounce on a deflection for a brilliant 20-foot strike to retake the lead for good.
“We were working on their strengths which was the long ball for a couple of week and we equalized” said Ebanks. “Unfortunately, we gave away the game but you live and you learn.”
Montserrat, who are rostered by many English-born semi-professional players, applauded Cayman’s effort.
“We play a very different game to the rest of the Caribbean nations, we aren’t afraid to mix it, or play a physical game,” said Lyle Taylor, who plays for English League One Charlton Athletic. “Cayman stood up to that really well, and provided a stern test for us. They were probably one of better of the four teams we played, and that’s saying something.”
Montserrat will play in the ‘B-League’ of the CONCACAF Nations League. The CONCACAF Nations League draw will take place 27 March.
Note: This was the first international goal scored by the Cayman Islands senior national men’s football team since 25th March 2015. Cayman played to a 1-1 draw versus Belize as part of qualification for the 2018 World Cup. The goal was scored by Mark Ebanks.