Goals Difference Separate U14 Football Team from CFU Challenge Semis | Island Sun

Goals Difference Separate U14 Football Team from CFU Challenge Semis

Caption: Blake Kirk, left, scored the first goal, Othneil Gillings two while Michael Findlay and Tiondre Frett also scored PHOTO: Priya Mohamed  

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Despite an unbeaten run, a BVI U14 Football team narrowly missed the Caribbean Football Union Challenge semifinals, losing out to Anguilla who had two more goals, after they played to a 0-0 draw as Anguilla topped the group with nine points to the BVI’s eight points.   

Blake Kirk and Othniel Gillings scored first and second half goals in the BVI’s 2-1 opening victory over the U.S. Virgin Islands, then they played the Turks and Caicos Islands to a 0-0 draw. Gillings had his second score of the tournament when he connected in the 27th minute, as BVI settled for a 1-1 draw with Anguilla. Against St. Maarten,  Michael Findlay scored in the 39th to give the BVI a 1-0 halftime lead, before Tiondre Frett added a free kick in the 47th, for the BVI’s 2-0 victory.   

“I thought we were excellent today from start to finish. We got in on a good front foot and we were really aggressive,” Technical Director Dan Neville told Island Sun Sports after the St. Maarten game. “We never really let them settle into a rhythm, closed them down quickly, never allowed them any time so they couldn’t settle into a rhythm which really played into our hands. St. Maarten is a good team, they have done well in the tournament, but I think our attitude and willingness really came through for us.”

The BVI had hoped St. Maarten showed their earlier aggression against Anguilla with a victory, so they could advance—but they didn’t.

Neville praised the staff led by Head Coach Cassandra “Cass” Gregg who he said ‘set up the team brilliantly’ and has in-game decisions ‘spot on,’ while Goalkeeper Coach Morris Mark gave great insight with his opposition analysis. Wayne Phillips and Jeffrey “Zambi” Demming he said prepared the team brilliantly in the conditioning department and physio Levy James made sure that players were recovered in time to play back to back games which is ‘no mean feat,’ as they played four games in five days.

“I think it was a really big joint effort by the staff turning in the type of performances that they did,” he said. “With Priya (Mohamed) in the background doing the organizing, the organization process has been excellent and that makes a big difference and I think she can take a lot of credit for that. So I think the staff keenly came together and along with the players got us the results we needed.”

Neville said he’s ‘absolutely proud’ of the players and staff, who he said have been a credit to themselves, their families, the Football Association and the country in general.

“I think it has been an excellent learning curve for the players and staff in terms of where they are, what can be achieved,” he said. “I think the challenge now, these moments are great, I think we have to savor them, but they’ve now gone and we now have to put a lot of preparation into the CONCACAF U15 tournament next year.”

He added:  “We’ve done well in this tournament because of the preparation leading up to it. We didn’t just turn up and gave a good account of ourselves. This has been months and months of planning by Cass and her staff and I think we’re bearing fruit now, but the counter has been reset to zero and the challenge is to work hard again and create the next moment.”