St George’s determined to continue their climb up the table
Two seasons after getting promoted, St George's Colts are beginning to establish themselves in the Premier Division, focusing more this season on the teams above them, rather than looking nervously over their shoulders at the teams near the bottom of the table.
Promoted in 2020 with champions Devonshire Colts, St George’s are looking to reach the 20-point mark when they meet the other Colts tonight 8pm, in a make-up match at Devonshire Rec.
The teams last met in November 2020 when Devonshire Colts came away 4-2 winners at Police Field, but this season, the balance has shifted with George’s comfortably in mid-table. Victory tonight would take them up to fourth in the standings, ahead of North Village, who have played three games more.
"Right now our priority is to try to get as high up in the standings as possible and just continue improving," said coach Jarreau Hayward. "Progress is everything for us right now and if we keep improving, keep progressing, then the results will show in the tables."
St George's are one of the few teams in the Premier Division never to have won the league, even in the old BFA First Division, going back to 1963-64. According to the BFA records, their highest finish was a second-place finish behind champions Somerset Trojans in 1969-70.
Over the years, St George's have lost some of their top players to clubs ‘up the country’ but that trend is changing now.
This season, Jarazinho Bassett returned from Southampton Rangers and Tyrell Burgess joined them from X-Roads, two of the clubs hardest hit in the transfer period, with Rangers losing 17 players and X-Roads 16.
Jahron Dickinson, who also had a brief stint at X-Roads before returning a couple of seasons ago, was the team's hero last weekend when he netted in the 90th minute to give them a 1-0 win over North Village. Youngster Tre McCallan, who had just come on as a substitute, made the pass that put Dickinson through.
"We wanted to have some control, but it wasn't really working out, so we ended up going with some speed at the end,“ the coach explained after the game.
”We knew Village had some tired legs at the end, so we brought on the youngster and he made it happen for us.
“We chose a slightly different tactic, it almost worked out, but we also always knew we could go to plan B. That's what we did and it worked out."
The club has also had to deal with the death of one of their influential players, Osagi Bascome, who was killed in December.
Hayward was a key player in defence for the club before a broken leg suffered in a FA Cup match against Devonshire Cougars in January 2019 ended his career. Now he is helping to transform the team into respectable opponents, a team that could finish as high as fourth.
"With our games in hand, we'll have to see where we stand after that," said Hayward, careful not to get carried away. "Honestly, the main goal is just progress and as long as we continue to evolve, the programme, the individuals, the team, then we're happy.
"We're already happy with the season, but we obviously still want more. Coming into this season, we weren't worried about safety, we were thinking about finishing as high as possible in the tables and that continues to remain our focus."
At the other end of the pitch, St George's rely on the experience of goalkeeper Freddy Hall anchoring a defence that has conceded just twelve goals in ten matches, one of the best defensive records in the division.
"I thought the backline did a really good of keeping a clean sheet," Hayward said of Sunday's match, which was their fourth clean sheet this season.
"I don't think Freddy was tested too much. We're really happy, a couple of youngsters got a chance to play and we're really showing our team has more depth now. Now it's about recovering because we have another big match on Thursday."
St George’s play in another make-up match next Wednesday, when they take on Somerset at the Rec (8pm) in a match that was originally scheduled for December 19.
The BFA also announced yesterday that Robin Hood will play PHC in another rescheduled match next Wednesday, at Goose Gosling Field at 9pm.