At least Cayman did not disgrace themselves. But the scoreline could have been the opposite had Cayman buried even one of three golden chances presented in the first six minutes.
Expectations were high at the newly renovated Truman Bodden Complex, with the stadium heaving to capacity with all 3,077 seats taken. Thousands more could have been sold had there been space.
Bermuda had boasted that they would get revenge in this World Cup qualifier after their ‘blip’ in the first leg that finished 1-1, but Cayman, fired up and thoroughly prepared, were intent on christening TB in style.
Alfredo Challenger, Calvin Jefford and Carson Fagan all had chances early on but nerves and poor finishing got the better of them.
Disaster struck in the 19th minute when Tuda Murphy parried out a free kick by Kwame Steede and the ball fell kindly to Devaun Degraff. The Bermudan struck again six minutes later when he headed home from a Darius Cox cross as Martin Waud challenged.
The killer third came seven minutes after the break when Tyrell Burgess crossed for captain Kwame Steede who tapped it home.
At least the locals had something to cheer about when in the 63rd minute Kevin Richards pulled down Jefford for a penalty. Substitute Marshall Forbes stepped up and calmly hit the ball low to Timmy Figuerido’s right for a consolation goal.
Cayman’s best period came in the last 25 minutes when they finally seemed to find their rhythm but by then it was too late. At least they proved they’re definitely not a pub team. The aggregate score over the two legs was 4-2.
A despondent coach Carl Brown said: ‘I believe the match speaks volumes for how much we’ve progressed. In the opening minutes we missed three chances and had we put at least one away things might have been different.’
Brown admits Cayman played better in the second half. ‘We have to look at how we can get two good 45 minutes back to back. That is what we need to do.
‘Dion Brandon has just joined us. His condition at school was not the best and he had not been training regularly with us.
‘But he’s a quality player. When he came on it was probably the time the Barmudan team was slowing down too. So it’s that, an injury he got whilst he was playing for his club in the local leagues in Florida. That prevented him from working as hard as he could. This is a whole learning experience for everyone.
‘The team will now focus on the Digicel Cup. We’ll give the team a little break and get them back. We have to get ourselves prepared and some practice games because that is the way they’ll grow.’
Jeffrey Webb, Cayman Islands Football Association president, moved heaven and earth to provide maximum resources for the team. It almost paid off and the investment is not wasted as the team can only get better.
‘I thought we had our chances and we just didn’t put them away,’ Webb said. ‘It’s that simple. It’s unfortunate but I think we can all be proud that the team has improved tremendously. I think the players will learn from this and get better and better. We have Bermuda back here in the Digicel Caribbean Cup along with St Maarten.
‘In July we host the Under-20 World Cup qualifying group with Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.’
Disappointed fans who attended the match are still positive about the future. In Singh’s Roti Restaurant soon after Necisha Lindsay said: ‘Cayman did well but I guess they need a little more training. I was really excited when they scored that penalty and thought they could pull back but I guess they just didn’t make it. I will support them in the future.’
Her friend Michelle Spencer works for sponsors Digicel and was giving out their red T-shirts. ‘I wanted Cayman to win because I wanted them to play Trinidad and Tobago in the next round to get more experience because Cayman don’t have enough experience.
‘But it was a good match. Bermuda didn’t show anything special, it was only the goal difference. For the World Cup in 2014 I know I won’t be there by that time but I think they can make it.’
* Captain Tom Elliot’s comments on page 13
CAYMAN: Tuda Murphy, Martin Waud, Thomas Elliot (capt), Jedd Ebanks, Alfredo Challenger, Junior Fisher, Allean Grant, Rene Carter, Calvin Bodden Jefford, O’Neil Taylor, Carson Fagan. Subs: Clay Coleman, Nemroy Forbes, Christ Douglas, Marshall Forbes, Eric Brown, Dion Brandon, Leighton Elliot
BERMUDA: Timmy Figuerido, Marquel Waldron, Devaun Degraff, John Nusum, Darius Cox, Kevin Richards, Omar Shakir, Khano Smith, Keishan Bean, Kwame Steede, Tyrell Burgess Subs: Damon Ming, Nigel Burgess, Domico Coddington, Seion Darrell, Stephen Astwood, Michael Parson, Reginald Lambe