In a highly-controversial semi-final duel, Grenada on Sunday trounced St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 3-0, to advance to the grand finale of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Premier League Soccer (CPLS) championship at the Old Boys and Girls High School Grounds on Maple Street in Brooklyn.
Both teams were locked 0-0 until the 25th minute, when referee Carlos Contreras, relying on the opinion of the linesman, on the right flank, controversially awarded Grenada’s first goal.
That action resulted in uproar among the Vincentian players and fans, who disputed that the ball had entered the goal and rebounded into play after a free kick, from the right flank, by Grenadian Ariel Jacobs, about 10 yards outside the penalty box.
The Vincentians claimed that the ball had struck the top of the upper right corner and ricocheted into play, but the Grenadians dismissed that notion, stating that the ball had, in fact, hit the bar inside the “V” in the upper right pole.
With play held up, amid the controversy, Contreras then issued a red card to Vincentian goal keeper Marcus Williams, ejecting him from further involvement in the game.
That intensified the ire among the Vincentian players. claiming that the red card was unnecessary – that Contreras, if anything, should have instead issued a yellow card, or warning.
Contreras subsequently told Caribbean Life that Williams had spat in his face – a claim disputed by the Vincentian players and coaching staff. Williams declined to comment when asked why he was dejected from play.
Play was then held up for about 15 minutes, with the Vincentians refusing to take the field, only for the referee to blow the half-time whistle.
During the interval, many of the Vincentian players said they were prepared to abandon the game over what they deemed to be unfair refereeing.
But after pleading from the coaching and management staff, all players, except captain Rayvon Jack and sweeper Senard Bowens, agreed to re-take the field.
It meant, therefore, that the Vincentians were forced to commence the second half without their premier goal keeper – substituted by Devorn Samuel, who reportedly had little or no experience in goal keeping.
With now only 10 players, the Vincentians endured more ferocious attacks by the Grenadians, who added two more goals in the second half off the boots of Devron Frederick (53rd min.) and Clive Murray (87th min.).
But even with a depleted squad, the Vincentians made several attempts at goal, failing, however, to elude Grenadian goal keeper Josh Charles.
Still, with the wide margin of victory, Grenada’s Assistant Coach Marcus Julien was dissatisfied with his team’s performance.
“Despite the opportunities in the first half, it was an ok game, because we can play better,” he said in a post-match interview.
On the other hand, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Head Coach Stanley “Luxie” Morris, a Vincentian sports ambassador, said Jack and Bowens could have tilted the game in his team’s favor.
“If we had those two players on, we would have won the game,” said the former national soccer caption and team manager in the defunct Caribbean Soccer Cup in Brooklyn.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines will now seek the third spot in the championship on Sunday against Guyana at the same venue, while Grenada will try to capture the Cup, when they battle Nigeria in the latter match of Sunday’s double-header.
Nigeria earned their grand finale berth be beating Guyana, 1-0, in last Sunday’s other semi-final encounter.