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Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Pres cops Big-Five title
A disputable own goal from reliable St Mary’s College goalkeeper Christian Attong moments left in regulation time, determined the outcome of what was an evenly contested BGTT First Citizens Secondary Schools Football League Big-Five final, which went in the way of a 2-1 victory for Presentation College of San Fernando, yesterday.
The Lions of South, which lost the Big-Five final last year, made their efforts count on this occasion but it came to the despair of St Mary’s College, which saw four members of its coaching and managerial staff sent off for protesting what looked like a ghost goal.
The second match of a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, followed a less intense but classy 1-0 win for St Augustine Secondary over Bishop’s High of Tobago, through a goal from Naiomee Guerra.
The second match, which too was of high quality for the most part, closed in less desirable fashion.
The Saints custodian, Attong, whose handling of the ball had been almost flawless throughout the course of the match, was on the receiving end of a barge by Presentation College of San Fernando forward Shackiel Henry close to the goal-line, with roughly five minutes remaining in the fixture, and while no appeals were seen from the Presentation College players for a goal as Attong seemed to be on his line, the referee took a look across to his assistant, who instead of awarding Attong a foul, judged the event as an own-goal.
The match took a halt as officials of St Mary’s College protested in unison, questioning both the referee and his assistant. They, including a furious head coach Jason Edwards and assistant Ryan Shim, were sent to the stands.
The end of the fixture brought jubilation to the hundreds of Presentation supporters, but it also brought a flock of players and football staff of St Mary’s to the faces of the referees, prompting police action. One police officer pulled out a baton, while a St Mary’s player questioned the official.
The sour incident did injustice to what was a keen contest played between the two schools. Neither team outclassed the other. Even as Presentation opened the scoring with a deserved goal in the 47th minute from a headed effort by Jared Gordon from close range, St Mary’s never lost confidence.
The Saints responded in the 58th minute from a penalty from Rashad Hyacinth, after Pres defender Makeem Huggins clattered into Chinua Bernard, whose back was turned to goal.
“Pres” enjoyed better possession during some spells of the first half, but its most influential players including Henry and midfielder Angel Williams, were not as effective as they have been throughout the season.
St Mary’s had the earliest opportunity to take the lead in the 11th minute when Bernard connected with a Sebastien Cabral headed pass but the striker’s volley in the box edged above the crossbar. However, in the 27th minute, Presentation came even closer to a goal, when a shot from the edge of the penalty box from Yohance Alexander rocked the crossbar, before Attong held onto the rebound.
Presentation had another sight on goal with an effort from Jared Gordon with 10 minutes left in the first half, but the midfielder’s shot was softened by Saints captain Myles Yorke, who brilliantly marshalled his defense throughout the encounter.
The second half brought more daring efforts from both sides, which had to settle on a thick stadium surface. The ball moved slowly and players from both teams had to play more aerial balls to create chances.
The opening two goals came from set plays, and the final goal, from a direct cross, which seemed to be safely handled by Attong. The Saints attempted to push forward once again, following the controversial incident, but it was Presentation’s day. The team won its first national league title, while CIC’s drought for the same trophy will extend to 23 years.
It is the second Big-Five match which has stirred controversy. Presentation College, was not supposed to play Carapichaima East in the semifinal which it won 3-0. The Central Zone league title was won by Chaguanas North Secondary, which received a letter the day before the Big Five semifinal stating that it was deducted nine points for the alleged fielding of ineligible players.
However, the letter was sent by the credentials committee, which does not have the jurisdiction to make a judgment. The disciplinary committee is the body required to make such a judgment. The SSFL later acknowledged its error.
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