Before travelling to Hamilton for the first leg of his side's preliminary series with Bermuda on Sunday, Cayman Island boss Carl Brown made clear his overall hopes for the trip.
"If we can't take all three points back home we'd
like to make sure we don't leave all of them over there,"
the former Jamaica coach told
In the end, a late equaliser from Allean Grant made quite sure that the Caymanian part-timers would be heading back for their 30 March return leg on home soil with real hopes of completing a huge upset.
In a hint of things to come, the visitors came out in positive mood right from the start at the National Stadium in Hamilton on Sunday. Jedd Ebanks took the first shot in anger and from some distance, testing Bermudan keeper Timmy Figureido with just seconds gone.
The much-fancied home boys soon began to take hold of the match,
though, even without star MLS man Khano Smith who failed to recover
in time from groin surgery. With ten minutes gone, Ireland-based
net minder Tuda Murphy found his Cayman goal under threat with
attacks coming thick and fast. Keishan Bean and Tyrell Burgess both
went close to scoring.
The Gombey Warriors made the pressure pay in minute 18 when Burgess, of local side North Village Rams, met a cross from the right and slammed home the first goal of the CONCACAF qualifying rounds.
After piling it on for the rest of the first half, the Bermudans picked up doing the same in the second period. Former Wolves striker John Barry Nusum and Domico Coddington, deputising for the convalescing Smith, both went close before the 60th-minute mark.
In the end the home side, who controlled the match and asked most of the questions, were made to pay for their profligate finishing.
Allean Grant of Latinos FC in the Cayman league drew the
visitors level with only four minutes left on the clock. The
impressive Eric Brown sent in an inch-perfect cross that was
knocked in by the well-placed striker to a roar of delight from the
"We set out to make sure that we did not lose and this result will do our confidence wonders," said Cayman coach Brown after the game. "When we went down I was a bit concerned and I felt we were on the back foot, but we hung in there and got the result we were looking for," added defender Thomas Elliot.
On the other side of the coin, Bermuda boss Keith Tucker was not the happiest man at the post-game press conference. "That's soccer for you," he huffed. "You can dominate an entire game but if you don't put your chances away they will come back to haunt you, and today that's exactly what happened."