St George’s spot on against Cougars
St George’s 0 Devonshire Cougars 0
St George’s won 3-2 on penalties aet
St George’s dug deep from the penalty spot to pull off a victory for their player-coach Jarreau Hayward who was taken to the hospital in the opening minutes with a suspected broken leg.
The East Enders, who claimed top-flight scalps in the first round over the past two seasons when they beat Boulevard and Somerset, earned another at Wellington Oval yesterday where they beat Cougars in the day’s biggest upset to advance to the quarter-finals.
News of the victory would have given Hayward some comfort after going to the hospital by ambulance in considerable pain after blocking a loose ball with Allan Douglas. The match was held up for about 25 minutes after the sixth-minute incident.
St George’s found a suitable replacement in defence in the experienced Ernest Signor, as Cougars held the upper hand but could not find a way through the defence marshalled by Signor and Freddy Hall in goal.
St George’s kept their cool during the penalty shoot-out, converting their first three kicks through Macai Simmons, David Signor and Kyle Denbrook while Cougars notched through Jomeko Mallory before Hall saved goalkeeper Lovintz Tota’s kick.
After Demetre Daniels scored, pressure built on Cougars when Zeko White’s fourth effort hit the crossbar, although there was some relief when substitute Jahki Brangman also failed to convert his team’s fourth kick.
St George’s won with a kick to spare after Mark Steede smashed his team’s last effort kick against the crossbar, sparking wild scenes of celebration by St George’s.
“We’ve definitely been in a few penalty shoot-outs, and I also experienced that [overseas], but you never know on the day,” said Hall, a former Limerick and Toronto FC player.
“I’m just glad we were able to get the result. One of the big things we kept saying was that we were going to do it for our coach. How he went down really shook us up, but I’m glad the guys responded well and got a positive result.”
St George’s, who have never reached the FA Cup final, lost to Cougars in the first round in 2016. No doubt the result that hurt them the most was the 1995 loss to Cougars in the semi-final when a controversial late goal by Wali Salaam gave the same team a 2-1 victory at White Hill Field.
Hall’s uncle, Troy Hall, played in goal that day for St George’s and was involved in the controversial goal when Salaam’s inswinging corner rebounded off the far post and back into the arms of Hall, before officials deemed that it crossed the line, leading to wild protests by St George’s.
“We were just talking about that, the semi-finals is the furthest we’ve gone,” Freddy Hall said. “It just shows that if we’re committed and work hard as a team then anything is possible.” St George’s were outplayed for most of the match as Cougars created the better chances. However, Hall and his defence were solid.
Daniels put an effort just over the crossbar in the first half as Cougars looked the better team as St George’s tried to regain their composure after the loss of their coach.
Extra time also failed to produce a goal as the light began to fade. Hall blocked a shot from substitute Nyeem Simmons in the second period before substitute Mark Steede lifted his effort over the bar.
“I have to give it to our defence and midfield ... tracking back and making tackles,” Hall added. “It was a good shift that the guys put in. Ernest hasn’t been able to train as much able to train as much because of work. It was a huge game by Ernest, leading us from the back.”