Sweet Revenge For Southern "Saint's"

Shaun Fuentes
Date Published: 
Trinidad Guardian

South Zone generals St. Benedict's College survived a late second half assault from defending Coca-Cola Intercol champions St Anthony's College, to eventually end up 4-2 winners on penalty kicks in their semi-final clash at the Hasely Craword Stadium on Saturday evening.

The venue was filled with passionate supporters of both sides. The 'Tigers" were being backed by their rhythm section. capable of creating a party atmosphere. But when the Point Fortin Engine Room launched their first beat, they had won the musical battle.

The fete had now started for the huge band of Benedict's followers and the evening fittingly ended that way. With a real Intercol fever bursting through the air , the La Romain 'Big Truck" got into early stride as early as the tenth minute when Quinton Walcott nicely headed past goalkeeper McKeil Germain from a left sided corner.

Benedict's could hardly have wished for a better opening but still they needed to show discipline against the indomitable 'Tigers'. Not that the hunger of the La Romaine boys was ever likely to be abated.Their opponents on the day appeared to be shocked by the early goal, but nonetheless were able to get into their own soon after and Sean Cooper's saw his low shot well gathered by Benedict's custodian Perry Martin.

The 'Tigers' ran themselves into opposition territory for long periods before the break but their front pair of Cooper and Damien Westfield were unable to get anything past the Benedict's back line of Lee Baptiste, Dwayne Millington, Anthony Haynes. They were defending impressively , if increasingly desperately.

Following the re-start, St Anthony's almost found the equalizer when Randy Samaroo's header following a pass by Kevin Pierre almost sneaked in .However, nothing seemed to be going the way of coach Nigel Grosvenor's unit.

Germain would come up big on a couple of occasions midway through the second period, saving well to shots by Silvio Spann and Dwayne Millington.. While the 'Tigers' looked a threatening prospect whenever they moved forward, Benedict's had not given up their own ambitions of scoring and their enterprise found its fulfillment when Kendell Davis turned nicely in the 18 yard box and shot with precision past a stranded Germain.

This sent their supporters into a huge frenzy.But the never say die attitude of the Westmoorings outfit soon came into play. While the time was running low, enough of it was left to contain the late drama. Two minutes later substitute Brandon Phelps met a Gary Gibbings free kick and slotted home, setting the the stage for a gripping final fifteen minutes. The Benedict's unit breathed a sigh of relief when Gibbings forced Martin to push over bar from a left sided free kick.

The 'Tigers' began to mount enormous pressure on their opponents and when their fortuitous equalizer did come, it was a deserving one of that.Five minutes before the end, Phelps neatly got around two Benedict's defenders on the left flank before finding Pierre inside the area. The end result was an equalizer and mad celebrations for the St Anthony's fans around the Stadium. Suddenly there was a feeling around the ground that the "Big Truck" was on the verge of shotting down just before the big stage.

The final whistle arrived and it meant sudden-death extra time. Both teams fought valiantly for the golden goal but there would be none of that .Westfield was expelled by referee Lincoln Ramnarine from action for violent conduct The miss of the entire Intercol occurred when Cooper took the ball from almost half line and fought his way past a heap of defenders, When well inside the area he chose to pass to an unmarked Phelps, who failed to make proper contact.

DiaHunte also came close for the Southerners when his glancing header narrowly missed the left post. Isa Ar Razi, who had made several dangerous forays from the midfield area, went close when his shot was blocked out by the defence.

Then it all came down to the penalty kicks to decide this game of considerate appeal.

One would recall 1995 when Benedict's got past the same opponents 7-6 on kicks following a 0-0 tie in a quarter final affair at Skinner Park How they feared during the shots of death.

Spann (Benedict's) - calmy slots the ball to the left of Germain Samaroo(Tigers) - levels the score at 1-1

Ar Razi - nervously walks up to the spot . He makes no mistake, shooting right of Germain, signals to his supporters.

Gibbings - shot crashes off the cross bar, cannot believe his luck,

Benedict's fans goes wild.

Hunte - converts comfortably, Benedict's up3-1

Phelps - converts, brings his team to within one

Haynes - makes no mistake, shooting to the right of Germain

Pierre - must score, Benedict's crowd, urging on their 'keeper, chanting

'Perry, Perry." Pierre directs his shot inches wide of Perry's right post.

Benedict's supporters erupts into scenes of mad celebrations, "Tigers" left
in shock and disbelief.

The Southern 'Saints" will be remembered for a display that was remarkable for it's pride and there are various explanations for their durability. It might have been a question of Benedict's honour. Surely it was a form of sweet revenge for the Southerners after falling 2-1 in last year's final to the 'Tigers.'

While St Anthony's deserved credit for their spirit and quality of play, the evening was really about the Benedict's players who fought until they dropped, ran themselves into the ground and were heroes all.

'Princes' set date with Benedict's

Princes Town Senior Comprehensive did themselves proud in the opening affair of the semi-final double header when they came away with a 1-0 victory over Signal Hill SC.

The 'Green Hornets" stung as early as the 2nd minute, to the delight of their supporters and the shock of the Tobago boys. Following a right sided corner, the ball fell to skipper Dwight De Leon who slipped the ball for Kempton Thompson and he shot well past goalkeeper Kern Duncan.

This put the visitors on the backfoot and P/Town almost increased their lead in the 29th minute when Marcus Alleyne neatly turned inside two defenders but his shot lacked enough power to beat Duncan.

A few minutes later, Signal Hill almost levelled the terms when Keon Price's shot cannoned off the cross bar and defender De Leon arrived in time to avert the danger.

De Leon was as solid as a rock throughout the contest and his efforts were ably assisted by an exceptional performance between the upright by custodian Ricardo Johnson.

Johnson came up big following the half time interval, saving well to couple of shots by Shelton Williams. His importance was emphasized again in the 73rd minute when he pushed away a penalty attempt by Signal Hill skipper Addison Baird.

P/Town were neat, economical and quick in their play. Kyle Benjamin,Terron Abner and De Leon held firm at the back. Up front their attack prospered at times with Andre Marshal, Marcus Alleyne, Thompson and substitute Anton Ramnarine all threatening at times to add to the scoreline. Their midfield was decorated by the presence of Vijay Samaroo. He looked a complete midfielder armed with a innovative mind and and a vision to pick out teammates with ease.

However, the ponytail figure could not believe his faith when referee Robin Murray, handed his a yellow card in the first half. Being his second booking in as many matches, it meant that he would be out of next Wednesday's all South final against St Benedict's College.

With the knowing of missing a National Intercol final , the player fell to the turf, shedding tears and had to be consoled by teammates and school principal Joe Sirju following the final whistle.

"Ain't nobody, ain't nobody better than P/Town," their supporters chanted throughout. It will be left to be seen if the 'Princes' will have the requirements to turn themselves into Kings on Wednesday in the 'big one' against Southern rivals St. Benedict's College.