Football: Barclays league division one-St Louis Suns shatter St Michel’s unbeaten run


Brian Dorby … St Louis Suns’ saviourThis rescheduled match did not draw the usual big crowd but on the pitch, it was a fiercely contested battle which resulted in a red card for St Michel’s captain Nigel Freminot late in the game to compound a bad day for the defending league champions.

St Michel started brightly though and should have opened the scoring in the fifth minute from a long cross by Alex Nibourette which sailed over St Louis Suns’ defender Jonathan Bibi and dropped to Wilnes Brutus, but from three metres out, he made a meal of his shot.

Three minutes later, Nibourette threatened as he cut inside a defender but he shot with his weak right foot and goalkeeper Elvis Leopold saved easily.

St Louis Suns slowly crept into the match and in the 12th minute, Ryan Antat played a quick throw-in to Mervin Mathiot who slipped a pass to captain Trevor Poiret whose strong shot was deflected into corner.

Ten minutes later, St Louis Suns put a string of passes together to release Fabien Cadeau who raced clear but Henny Dufresne produced a great recovery tackle to thwart the danger.

In the 29th minute, Mathiot should have done better from Bibi’s long ball as he held off Allen Larue’s challenge but blazed the ball over the crossbar from a good scoring position.

St Michel had a gilt-edge opportunity in the 40th minute from Karl Hall’s pin-point cross to Nelson Laurence whose control skill wrong-footed the out-rushing Leopold.  As the ball rolled slowly goalwards, Nadim Lucas managed in the nick of time to boot the ball away and save his team from conceding a comical goal.

Seconds later, Brutus was furious with the officials for not awarding his team a corner after his ground-level shot was touched into corner by Leopold.

St Michel’s Malagasy defender Jimmy Radafison rode his luck in the 44th minute as he appeared to elbow Antat and referee Bernard Camille awarded a free-kick but did not issue another yellow card to the former St Louis Suns defender.

The St Louis Suns players pleaded for the player to be expelled as he had been booked earlier.

The second half was a more intriguing affair and St Michel should have gone ahead in the 50th minute from a well-worked short corner between Anacoura and Hall whose deep cross fell to the unmarked Laurence at the far post but he headed wide with the goal begging.

Laurence was guilty of another bad miss in the 65th minute as he pounced on Lucas’ mistake but flashed his shot across the face of goal.

The league champions were made to pay as they were caught napping in defence in the 70th minute as Denis Barbé played a glorious defence-splitting 35m pass to the marauding Brian Dorby who had sneaked in behind the St Michel defence to slot the ball past a hapless goalie Gino Melanie for a shocking 1-0 lead for St Louis Suns.

Tempers flared as both sets of players tried to get the better of each other and in the 76th minute Cadeau and Brutus had to be held back by Don Anacoura. The two players were lucky just to receive a yellow card after exchanging punches.

St Michel huffed and puffed as St Louis Suns packed their defence and almost scored a breakaway goal in the 88th minute as Antat flicked a long ball into the path of captain Poiret. The latter bore on goal and looked odds on to score a second but was stopped in his stride by captain Freminot who committed a professional foul by tugging back the 2010 footballer of the year, denying him a clear scoring opportunity.

Referee Camille blew his whistle as Poiret went to the ground and dished out a straight red card to give the St Michel captain his marching orders.

St Michel’s last chance to secure at least a point to preserve their unbeaten run should have resulted from three consecutive free-kicks in the dying minutes but St Louis Suns held firm for a rare, but nonetheless important victory over their bitter rivals. The win has helped them move off the bottom of the league table and into seventh position with a game in hand over their closest rivals. It was a victory greeted with much joy by the St Louis Suns faithful.

Coach Marc Mathiot was happy that his team’s determination helped them beat a tough opponent.

“Our strategy worked well today as we stopped St Michel from playing their usual game and we hit them on the counter,” coach Mathiot told Sports Nation as he praised his team for their work-rate to close down St Michel and pull off an unlikely win.

As for St Michel’s manager Andrew Jean-Louis, he was gracious in defeat.

“St Louis Suns’ victory will reignite the league race and it is good for them as they battle relegation. I hope this loss will be a wake-up call for my players and show them that there is still a lot to do before we can secure the league crown,” said manager Jean-Louis.

He added that his team missed some decent chances though they did not play too badly but were undone by a lapse of concentration in defence.

The defeat was St Michel’s first this year in all competitions but one which will be welcomed by other title challengers as they attempt to close the gap on the Anse Aux Pins-based team.

R. J-L.

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