NORTH SOUND, Antigua – Behind two strikes from Stefan Smith and a powerful free kick from Quinton Griffith, the Antigua Barracuda FC defeated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 3-1 on Sunday afternoon at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to secure their first points of the 2012 USL PRO season. A late consolation goal from Mike Green was all the visitors could muster as the two teams split a pair of games over the Easter weekend.
As in Friday’s contest it was another slow start as both teams to time to get into their rhythm, but for the second game running the home team was presented with a chance to go ahead from the penalty spot after Stefan Smith was brought down in the area as he went for a header. As in the previous game, Peter Byers stepped up and although he sent Riverhounds goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap the wrong way, he shot the ball wide of the left post, stunning the local crowd.
Fortunately for the Barracudas they did not bow their heads and in the 31st minute, a powerfully struck free kick into the right side of the net from Quinton Griffith beat Gilstrap to the delight of the crowd. This injected new life into the ’Cudas as they poured forward in numbers. It was Orlando Mitchum and his ability to hold off a Pittsburgh defender on a surging run from midfield that paved the way for the second strike, as Mitchum’s pass allowed Smith to cut inside and fire a drive low and hard to beat Gilstrap at his near post in the 43rd minute.
It was a new look Pittsburgh team that resumed the second half with the introduction of Seth C’Debaca and Jason Kutney to the line-up. For much of the early going Pittsburgh controlled the play and forced Antigua goalkeeper Molvin James into action. The diminutive Tino Nunez caused the Barracudas defense particular concern, but even as they absorbed the pressure they managed to find a breakaway goal with Byers doing excellent work on the flanks to set up Smith to record his second strike of the match and seal the victory with nine minutes to go.
The Riverhounds got a consolation goal through Green in the 88th minute as he danced into the penalty area and finished into the right corner of the net, but Antigua’s strong first-half performance proved enough to carry it to victory.
“This was exactly what we needed,” said Antigua coach Tom Curtis. “We were very unlucky the other night, we hit the post three times and their ’keeper had a really good night, but I can’t fault my player for their display tonight, it was an outstanding effort”.
Antigua Barracuda FC next plays the Charlotte Eagles on Thursday, April 26th and Saturday, April 28th in a doubleheader at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. The Riverhounds’ next outing is the club’s 2012 home opener, against the Dayton Dutch Lions on Saturday, April 26th and Saturday, April 28th in a doubleheader at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Courtesy United Soccer Leagues (USL).com