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Progression up for grabs as World Cup Qualifiers conclude tonight!

Anguilla had to be at their defensive best for much of the game before holding on for the deserved win. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Brittany Peters and the BVI defense put up a battling display in appalling pitch conditions. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Brittany Peters and the BVI defense put up a battling display in appalling pitch conditions. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Kai Jamie Jacobs completed her hat trick from the penalty spot in the Antigua's 4-0 defeat of the BVI. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Kai Jamie Jacobs completed her hat trick from the penalty spot in the Antigua's 4-0 defeat of the BVI. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Peters made several crucial saves and blocks in each half of the game to keep the score respectable. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Peters made several crucial saves and blocks in each half of the game to keep the score respectable. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Cadeejah Proctor looks to launch another attack despite close attention from Lavern Fahie. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Cadeejah Proctor looks to launch another attack despite close attention from Lavern Fahie. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Roxanna Bradshaw and Brittany Lawrence tussle for the ball during Anguilla's 2-1 win over St Kitts/Nevis. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Roxanna Bradshaw and Brittany Lawrence tussle for the ball during Anguilla's 2-1 win over St Kitts/Nevis. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Anguilla's No. 10 colleen Johnson was in the thick of the action, thwarting many of SKN's attacks. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Anguilla's No. 10 colleen Johnson was in the thick of the action, thwarting many of SKN's attacks. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Right until the final whistle SKN looked to grab the equalizer with Chioma Henry inches away from getting her head to the ball in front of Josette Carty in goal. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
Right until the final whistle SKN looked to grab the equalizer with Chioma Henry inches away from getting her head to the ball in front of Josette Carty in goal. Photo: Charlie E. Jackson/VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Technically, all four teams involved in the Women’s U-20 World Cup Qualifying round being played on the A.O. Shirley Ground today, Saturday July 20, 2013 can claim a top two finish and reach the next stage.

Anguilla currently hold top spot with 6 points from two wins, St Kitts/Nevis sit second on 3 points ahead of Antigua and Barbuda who also have 3, on goal difference. Host Nation, the BVI, have lost both their games so far, but with a huge win over St Kitts and other results going their way, can still progress.

Anguilla has a goal difference of +6, St Kitts/Nevis +3, Antigua and Barbuda +/- 0 and the BVI -8. So a 6 – 0 victory for the BVI and Anguilla beating Antigua by 3 goals, would be just one set of scorelines that could see the BVI leapfrog into the top two places.

Either result may seem a little far-fetched given current form, but football can be a funny old game as borne out by Anguilla’s 2-1 victory over St Kitts/Nevis in match 3 on Thursday afternoon.

Heavy overnight and early morning rains had left the ground looking more like a quagmire and it was quite a surprise that the officials got the game started on time, but it was no surprise that St Kitts were fastest out of the blocks and laid siege to Anguilla’s goal.

Inside the first 10 minutes, Brittany Lawrence saw a goal bound shot blocked by Jackeedah Bryan and then moments later Janea Pine saw her shot rebound off the post with the keeper well beaten.

Anguilla’s first chance to open the scoring came from a long range effort from Roxanna Bradshaw in the 10th minute which Quintana Estridge, in goal, fumbled as she slipped and then scrambled clear.

Spurred on by the threat SKN mounted a fast attack with Phoenitia Browne, Shinell McCalla and Lawrence combining to feed Leranja Wilkinson whose shot went just wide.

Browne then went on a barn storming run from just inside the Anguilla half, beating two defenders and then firing a powerful low drive that was saved almost simultaneously by Josette Carty and her post. Pine then thought she had a good claim for a penalty, claiming she was tripped by Carty as she prepared to shoot. However, the Referee waived away her protests.

Two minutes later and Anguilla made SKN pay for those wasted opportunities when from a corner out on the right, which was fired across the goal mouth by Bradshaw Tarvia Phillips, a defender sliced the ball into her own net.

Straight from the restart SKN piled on the pressure and a Lawrence corner was finally cleared despite Browne’s assertion she was fouled in the box, but then Browne, Wilkinson and Pine interchanged passes across the middle of the park to send Lawrence free on goal. She made no mistake slotting the ball home with the inside of her right boot and giving Carty no chance.

Browne, McCalla, and Pine all saw chances go begging, before once again against the run of play, Anguilla regained the lead through Tamisha Richardson.

The final 10 minutes of the first half went goalless at either end and then more amazingly Anguilla defended for almost the entire second half to maintain their 2-1 lead and claim all 3 points.

SKN Coach Lester Morris said he was still flabbergasted after the game. “It's really unfair to be honest, if you look at the second half they got down our end only three times,” he lamented, “the pressure we mounted on them was tremendous, but having done all the hard work we were unable to get the ball between the posts.”

“The conditions of the pitch were terrible, but as I told my team it was the same for both sides. We should have scored 3 times in the first 10 minutes, but the team that scored two goals came out victorious.”

He also vowed to come out looking for the win in their last game and hoped the conditions would allow them to get the ball on the ground and get a repeat of their winning performance against Antigua in the first game.

Anguilla’s Coach Colin Johnson was very happy with the win against the more fancied SKN, but admitted to a few nervous moments in that final 45 minutes. “SKN have a number of players that play overseas and ours are all home-grown, but we recognised their strengths and worked our strategy to negate that threat to perfection. We brought the pressure on ourselves in the second period as we sat back deep, whereas I hoped we would attack a little more.”

The second game on Thursday saw the BVI take on Antigua and Barbuda, hoping for a similar “upset”, however, it was not to be as just like in the first game against Anguilla the Hosts went behind early doors.

Khadijah Morris finishing off a slick move on the equally slick and muddy surface in the 7th minute.

Throughout the first half, the BVI struggled to get anything going, often opting for a hurried clearance upfield and leaving Sapphire Flax isolated upfront. Victoria Medley Parkins enjoyed herself playing wider on the left, but even her qualities went unrewarded against the tight Antigua defense.

The home team’s defense was also standing firm though and even when breached, Brittany Peters flung herself around the box to deny Antigua. She in fact pulled off the save of the Tournament when pulling off a diving save to thwart Morris when she was clean through one on one.

Laverne Fahie and Kezia Gumbs also played well in cleaning up any danger when Peters was beaten and it took a slice of good fortune for Antigua to double their advantage in the 37th minute.

An infield bound throw from Medley Parkins was initially cut out by Antigua and then Joi Ann Thomas, who has been a revelation in defense, sliced her clearance which took Gumbs by surprise. She could only half clear, half deflect the ball and the on rushing Kai Jamie Jacobs latched onto the loose ball to hold off a challenge from Thomas to fire home past Peters and into the right hand corner of the goal.

A 2-goal lead soon became 3 early in the second half when Jacobs was on hand to slot home following a long jinking run from Morris had torn apart the BVI defense and further ignominy was to befall the BVI when Fahie pulled on the shirt of Jacobs in the box giving the referee no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Fahie also received her marching orders for a second bookable offense and will miss the last game tonight.

Jacobs blasted the ball past Peters to complete her hat trick and make it 4-0, which was how the game finished too.

The reshuffle of resources placed Kelienne Smith into a sweeper role and suddenly the BVI looked a better balanced outfit for the remainder of the game with Smith looking a natural in the position.

Antigua had chances to add to the score line, but none were successful and they may well live to rue being so wasteful as the group appears to be heading to a goal difference decider.

“I thought we dug deep to come out with the victory, but we needed more goals, especially if we wish to progress,” stated Coach Ralston Williams. “All in all though I’m happy as the first match was a disappointment (2-0 defeat to Anguilla). I’m happy we were able to come back and play well.”

Coach of the BVI, Kate Rowson, also had concerns over the lack of attacking creativity, especially now that they have to get on the score sheet against SKN to stand even an outside chance of making the second round. “We conceded early in our first game and did the same today so it’s very frustrating. The pitch was terrible, but it was the same for both sides so we can’t complain about that,” she said. “I’ve talked right from the start about applying what we do in practice during the game and it was plain for all to see that that didn’t happen. It was tough to keep possession, but at half time I spoke to the players about staying composed and not treating the ball like a hot potato. Ironically, we compacted a lot better after the sending off and the performance of Smith was a positive we can take from the game.”

Today’s final round of matches sees Antigua  and Barbuda play Anguilla at 4 P.M. and then the BVI take on SKN at 6 P.M., knowing they have to produce the game of their lives to not only stand a chance of a top two finish but also to give the football fans something to cheer about.

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