Bodden Town out but impressed

Bodden Town were knocked out of the Caribbean Football Union competition over the weekend but they can hold their heads high as the first Cayman Islands team to have won a match in this extremely tough tournament that attracts the best teams in the region.

Considering how young Bodden Town are – average age 22 – they did exceptionally well against the Puerto Rican side River Plate over the two legs.

The damage was done in the first match, on Friday, at the TE McField Annex when Bodden Town lost 2-0 with goals by Chris Megaloudis in the second minute and Frantz Francois in the 63rd. That game was held up for 20 minutes as captain Yefrey Calderon was taken to hospital after a nasty clash left him severely concussed.

Thankfully, Calderon was fit enough two days later not only to lead his side to a 1-0 victory, but was the scorer too, with a superb header from an Arvid Harris corner, in the 75th minute. Watched by minister of sport Mark Scotland, who is also the Bodden Town president, they played their hearts out over the two legs, but it wasn’t quite enough.

With the seconds ticking away, Calderon sprinted back to the centre spot, no time to celebrate, but try as they might, Bodden Town could not find another and went out 2-1 on aggregate.

Without central defender Luigi Hernandez and striker Theron Wood who were recalled from duty at semi-professional club Ashford Town in England for these two matches but could not get clearance to play, Bodden Town felt their absence, but to their credit played with much more spirit in the second game after technical director Elbert McLean shuffled the squad. At least they had stand out keeper Ramon Sealy back from college in the US to rely on.

River Plate deserve props too, because a third of their squad could not make the trip from Argentina because of visa problems and one of the two keepers they brought had to play outfield to help the depleted squad. The team had never played together either, drawing players affiliated to the club from the US and Puerto Rico.

But they are full-time and semi-pro players and their average age is 25 so they should have had the edge in fitness, technique and experience, yet Bodden Town’s youngsters were never outclassed and it bodes well for them and any other Cayman teams who enter the competition in the future.

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The brave Bodden Town team for the second game. Back, from left, Yefrey Calderon, Denny Bailey, Ramon Sealy, Rashad Rankine, Craig Bodden. Front, Karl Solomon, Tevon Levien, Charlo McLean, Maynor Rodriguez, Arvid Harris, Jake Bennett-Rivera.
PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD
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