It wasn't for the faint of heart, but Boom Champions Fuego are the new leaders in the Women's Premier League. The 94.1fm franchise team was able to come from behind to eke out an important 2-1 win against the Chancellor Angels when action in the WPL resumed on Wednesday evening, at the Northern Recreation Ground in Diego Martin.
The action early on lived up to the hype, as both teams had won their opening matches two weeks ago and were fully aware that another win would put them two points clear. The Angels had much more of the opening exchanges, picking up from where they felt off from their opening night against Wave FC.
They were solid from the back and dominated going forward as well. Jacqueline Poucel almost created the opener much in the way she orchestrated Angel's second goal in their last outing. She burst forward from the defence, and found skipper Maylee Attin Johnson whose lob beat the keeper but sailed just wide of the post.
The enthusiastic crowd didn't have to wait long for the breakthrough however. Tanesia Vassell pole-axed Kandice Franklin in the penalty area to concede a penalty, which was confidently converted by Mc Gregor, who sent the Brazilian keeper Leticia Bussato, the wrong way.
The goal seemed to wake up the Fuego defence and midfield, as they started to string more passes together with Jamaican Christina Murray being the chief architect in ball-retention. Five minutes later, Fuego equalised through their centre back Izquierda whose glancing header from a corner, beat Tynetta Mc Koy in goal. Fuego capitalised once more from another corner on the half hour, when Prescott with her back to goal, swivelled and steered her shot into the left-hand corner.
Angels were already unsettled at that point, and their frustrations continued to mount in the second period.
Skipper Attin-Johnson hustled and harried all night and in some cases, literally tried to carve out opportunities on her own. Her teammates also seemed to lose the plot with a lot of needless fouls as they battled for control of the midfield. The frustration boiled over into a dismissal — Rafaela De Vargas dragged down her opponent near the centre circle for her second bookable offence.
The Angels were in the ascendancy before that point. Vargas ironically, could have been a hero but her chance created by Maylee's intelligently-taken quick free kick was saved.
The red card however set the tone for a disappointing second period, as the Fuego players, who looked jaded, could not take full of advantage of their numerical superiority. Amidst the shirt-pulling and late challenges, Murray's passing continued to be a threat.
When Fuego coach Richard Hood sent winger Claudia Sancedo on for defender Jamila Matlin, it was clearly an attempt to kill the contest with another goal which almost succeeded; Sancedo crashing a shot off the bar at the death. The final whistle blew on two sets of exhausted players, with Fuego consolidating top spot after two rounds.
"I think there were some good moments, but fatigue set in a bit," said Hood. "We have been pushing them hard, and the girls were complaining about their legs."
The result saw the Angels drop to fourth place, while Fuego moved to the summit.
The competition will continue today, at the Ojoe Road Recreation Ground in Sangre Grande. The SCG Dragons will face Petrotrin Oilers in the first match of the double-header at 6pm, while at 8pm, CNGC Rush tackle Wave FC, who are looking for their first points in the competition.
Fuego 2 (Ermelinda Izquierda 26, Anastasia Prescott 31) v Angels 1 (Jodi-Ann McGregor 19 pen)
Player of the Match: Leticia “Lele” Bussato (Fuego).
Boom Champions Fuego: 1.Leticia Bussato; 15.Patrice Superville, 4.Linda, 3.Anastasia Prescott, 16.Tanesia Vassell; 10.Tasha St Louis (capt), 11.Christina Murray; 9.Shanelle Warrick (18.Denisha Thomas 76th); 5.Jamila Matlin (14.Claudia Saucedo 69th), 12.Jo Marie Lewis (7.Zaudita Kaza-Amlak 88th), 8.Kamilinha.
Unused Substitutes: 21.Priscilla Tapia Castillo (GK), 2.Diamond Henderson, 6.Nickisha James.
Coach: Richard Hood
Chancellor Angels: 1.Tynetta McKoy (25.Beth Seaman 84th); 6.Alyssa Bodhoo, 2.Ayanna Russell, 8. Jaclyn Poucel, 4.Jodie Redgrave; 7.Peta Gaye Soman, 20.Tamar Watson (13.Bruna Da Silva 84th); 10.Jodi Ann McGregor; 15.Kandace Franklin, 9.Maylee Attin-Johnson (capt), 16.Rafaela De Vargas [red card 64].
Unused Substitutes: 3.Tkeyah Phillip, 17.Sharain Cummings.
Coach: Anthony Creece
Referee: Crystal Sobers
1st Boom Champions Fuego — 6pts
2nd CNGC Rush — 4pts
3rd Petrotrin Oilers — 4pts
4th Chancellor Angels — 3pts
5th Wave FC — 0pts
6th Dragons — 0pts
SCG Dragons v Petrotrin Oilers, 6pm, Ojoe Road, Sangre Grande;
CNGC Rush v Wave FC, 8pm, Ojoe Road, Sangre Grande.