After fighting for their life in the Apertura (opening) season, Arsenal shows not only signs of life, but with a couple excellent players the Roatan team has a chance at placing high in the season. Last season Arsenal took sixth place in a group of seven and barely escaped the compulsory fight from being relegated from the second division. Now, with nine games played and another three to go, Arsenal is number two, right behind Tocoa’s Real Sociedad.
The latest victory for Arsenal came in a home game on Saturday, March 26, against a visiting Sonaguera FC – the group winner from previous season and Arsenal. Pascual Noralez, who first coached Arsenal in 2004, was back as coach again and was instrumental in getting Arsenal back to the winning attitude
Jeffrey Clay James (No. 20) from Saint Helene in his first game for Arsenal scored a goal in 35 minute after chaos in the penalty area. He was signed by Arsenal after two seasons in Saint Helene Estellas.
Just minutes into the second half, after a foul on Arsenal player, team’s veteran captain Ruben Martinez, 34, had an opportunity at shooting a penalty. The Sonaguera goalie deflected Martinez’s strong shot and the visiting team took the opportunity to pressure Arsenal.
Arsenal slowed down in the second half and allowed Sonaguera to equalize. Islanders went into a defensive mode and scoring opportunities appeared only during counterattacks. This held true until minute 40 when Jovani Alvarez (no. 13) fought off two Sonaguera players and lobed it past the helpless Sonaguera goalie to make the game 2-1.
Jovani Alvarez, from Punta Gorda, is Arsenal’s top scorer with six goals in nine games. “Not even Geogie Welcome scored that many goals,” said Leyland Woods, Arsenal’s owner. Welcome has been the first Bay Islander to play in Football World Cup and has currently been picked up by France’s AS Monaco. From Coxen Hole, Georgi has played for Arsenal 2004-2008 and was then picked up by Club Motagua, and represented Honduras national selection 23 times scoring four goals. Welcome played for the Honduras national team in the South Africa World Cup.
Arsenal has been thru some hard economic times and attendance and ad support has went down considerably. This season Arseanl’s jerseys are adorned with logos of six sponsors: Anacaribe, Insular Water, Roatan Municipality, Galaxy Wave, SolGas, Serrano Industrial. “Without them we couldn’t survive,” says Leyland Woods.
The couple hundred fans that made it to the game either stand at the chain link fence, or sit nex to corrugated metal fence that surrounds the football field. It’s not easy to attract fans to the games especially if there is no place for them to sit. “It’s embarrassing. Thieves stole bleaches from the bleachers,” says Woods, pointing to the wood structures that used to serve as bleachers for the past six years. [/private]