There was Berkshire representation in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers last week with three Maidenhead United players lining up for duty.
With Windsor’s Luke Paris in action for Anguilla and Maidenhead United’s Jerry Wiltshire featuring for the British Virgin Islands in Group C of the qualifiers for Qatar 2022, his club colleagues James Comley and Rohan Ince have been in action for Montserrat in Group A.
The British Overseas Territory has a population of just 4,649 and is probably more famous for the 1997 volcanic eruption which makes the southern half of the island uninhabitable to this day than it is for football. However, the side ranked 183 in the world by FIFA has made a bright start to their campaign to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Last Wednesday 24th March saw a ‘Leeward Islands derby’ between the Emerald Boys and Antigua & Barbuda, a country with more than twenty times the population of Montserrat to call upon. Comley and Ince both played the full 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw which looks credible on paper but which Comley described as a “disappointing performance from ourselves”.
The Emerald Boys led twice thanks to a brace from Nottingham Forest’s well-travelled striker Lyle Taylor, but they were pegged back twice by the Antiguans. Comley reflected “We conceded poor goals that are unlike us”. The Montserrat team then faced El Salvador on Sunday night, a team which has qualified for two world cups (in 1970 and 1982) and will surely be favourites to win the group. Speaking ahead of that game Comley predicted: “It will be a tough game. We’ve played each other 3 times in last 2-and-a-half years with them scoring last-minute winners twice. So we will need to be mentally switched on for 90 minutes.”
The boot however was on the other foot on Sunday night. Taylor’s 89th minute equaliser earned Montserrat a point in a 1-1 draw, with Comley once again starting alongside his club-mate and former Brighton player Ince. Ex Magpies Adrian Clifton and Dean Mason also featured alongside Fleetwood Town legend Nathan Pond, now at AFC Fylde.
Wiltshire’s BVI side meanwhile were well beaten by Guatemala by three goals to nil on Saturday night but will have higher hopes of success against St Vincent and the Grenadines this evening. The international trio will then return to CONCACAF action in June following the completion of the National League season.
Anguilla? They were beaten 6-0 by Dominican Republic with Paris playing the 90 minutes in group D.
Read more: ‘It’s phenomenal’: how six Londoners are on verge of glory with Montserrat (The Guardian)