Cup semis did not disappoint

Football semi-final cup matches are
often more exciting affairs than the final itself.

Nerves and fear of losing in the
big one tend to stifle the entertainment, but not so much in semis.

That was evident at the TE McField
Annexe on Sunday with two fabulous free-flowing FA semi-final games. The prize
was a place in the final on 25 April.

Premier side George Town took on
First Division Latinos in the first match and were given the run around in the
first half as the minnows tried to cause an upset.

Latinos had far more attempts on
goal but it was the classier George Town who came through with second half
goals from Tex Whitelocke and Justin Pierre.

These two are GT’s top scorers this
season and the main reason why they will come second to Scholars International
in the league and earlier won the Digicel Cup.

The second match between Elite and
Tigers was a stirring affair, with ten goals, three goalkeepers on one side,
two penalties, a sending off and more drama than an episode of Law & Order.

Tigers are probably the most
improved side in the Premier League this season. Usually one of the league
strugglers, this season they have roared into life and will finish in the top
half and would have got to the Digicel Cup final if not for fielding ineligible
players and being prevented from playing in the final.

Gabriel Godet opened the scoring
for Elite against Tigers and Carlos Powery equalised for Tigers.

Donovan’s brother Dominic is
Elite’s keeper. He fell awkwardly in diving for a ball and dislocated his
shoulder.

Calvin Jefford replaced him between
the sticks, even though the brilliant striker was probably more useful staying
in his regular position.

Jefford enjoys going in goal in
training matches but this decision back fired on him this time when he
re-injured his troublesome left knee ligaments and had to come off before the
break.

Alex Belcher, another outfield
player, then went in goal.

In the second half, Donovan Godet,
Gabriel’s brother, put Elite 2-1 up before Powery again equalised.

Donovan Godet looked as if he had
blasted in the winner just before the end before Tigers skipper Manlio Conolly
equalised again for Tigers from a superbly taken free-kick.

When Rene Carter made it 4-3 from a
hotly disputed penalty in injury time, it looked as if Elite were through.

Anxious not to lose and with the
match ticking out of their grasp, two-goal hero Powery over-reacted to what he
thought was  another unfair decision
against his side. 

Referee Kenville Holder felt
justified in showing a red card for Powery’s dissent. The player completely
lost it then and spat towards Holder. It didn’t hit him but exacerbated an
already terrible situation for Powery. Even though he apologised immediately,
the damage was already done.

Thankfully for 10-man Tigers Holder
awarded a penalty in the dying seconds. Up popped Jose Luis Bush and the match
went into extra time. Pulsating stuff with more excitement to unfold.

Rolly Bodden then scored directly
from a corner and Lorren Bennett sealed it with Tigers’ sixth.

“Losing Dominica and Calvin in
their respective positions made it much harder for us,” said Elite coach Greg
Ebanks. “Those injuries lost us a lot of our momentum. Calvin brings so much
energy to our team.”

Elite romped away with the league
and won the Digicel Cup last season but have not been so successful this term.

“We need some more depth in the
squad,” said Ebanks. “We need to recruit more good players and we certainly
need another quality keeper. George Town have two good keepers and we need that
too.”

Lee Ramoon, player-coach of George
Town, said: “In the first half we were flat against Latinos. We were playing
more individually than as a unit. But we did get into a groove in the second
half.

“I’m looking forward to playing
Tiger in the final. They play a high tempo game but I’m not going to focus on
them too tough and just concentrate on what we have to do.

“We have to be patient, mark them
closely and close them down.”

It’s been a great season for George
Town. They beat Bodden Town 2-1 in the Digicel Cup final, look like coming
second in the Premier League and have could be double cup winners if they tame
Tigers.

Manlio Conolly said: “Against Elite
I just kept on telling the players not to give up even though we went behind
three times and it worked.

“Before the match I kept on telling
them that we deserved to get to the final because we had worked so hard all
season, since August and sacrificed so much.

“The guys not being able to play in
the Digicel Cup final was really tough. They felt something had been snatched
from them. Some felt like it was the end of the road, their morale was down,
but I told them we had two more cups to play for.

“Carlos Powery is one of our key
players. It was out of character for him to behave how he did but people who
have not played top level football cannot possibly understand the emotions a
player goes through in those kinds of situations. He had his reasons.

“I think I will
reserve my judgement on how he should be punished.”

SPORTSbennettSTORY

Bennett got the Tigers winner.
Photo: Ron Shillingford
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