Football: Land Marine Cup-St Francis sink 10-man The Lions to reach semis


The Lions though will feel aggrieved with referee Nelson Emile who was again at the centre of controversy after he sent off their defender Darrel Lesperance in the first half and ordered coach Gavin Jeanne and manager Davis Khan off the substitutes’ bench and into the stands for over protesting.

The Lions were slightly the better side before these incidents and they drew first blood in the fourth minute as Darrel Damoo outsped his marker to cut the ball back to captain Randolph Lablache who fired past goalkeeper Bertrand Morel for a 1-0 lead.

In the eighth minute, Damoo almost scored with a cross-cum-shot which threatened to dip into the net forcing Morel into emergency action as he crashed into the post to tip the ball over the bar.
Captain Lablache played the resulting corner to Darrel Lesperance who hooked the ball to Ahmed Maurice whose volley was parried into another corner by Morel.

St Francis’ first real chance came in the ninth minute as Trevor Vidot laid the ball to Malagasy Branli Zizi whose long range effort was stopped by goalkeeper Jerome Dingwall.

Ten minutes later, St Francis again threatened from Radley Monthy’s lofted free-kick which Ryan Antat flicked on. However Branli Zizi’s close-range shot was blocked into corner by Dingwall.

In the 26th minute, the match took a nasty turn of events after St Francis’ Antat fouled Darrel Lesperance who went to ground and caught the St Francis midfielder with his boot in the face in what looked like a retaliation. Referee Nelson Emile therefore booked Antat and showed Lesperance a straight red card applying the law of the game to the letter.

This decision did not go down well with The Lions’ players and officials as they protested their teammate’s innocence and felt the official was against them as they had been hard done by a few earlier decisions which had not gone their way.

The Lions were again furious with the official in the 32nd minute when St Francis’ Malagasy defender Malamo Ducaud elbowed Damoo in the face as he was pushed off the ball and no foul was given.

The Lions coach Gavin Jeanne was angered as he made his feelings known to referee Emile. After a lengthy argument between the two, coach Jeanne was sent to the stands and was soon followed by manager Khan for venting his frustration at the official.

St Francis therefore started to show more purpose and in the 34th minute, Branli Zizi’s shot was pushed out by goalkeeper Dingwall but the ball was still heading for goal as defender Darren Payet cleared the danger.

Four minutes later, Dingwall produced a fantastic flying save to tip over Antat’s goal-bound shot to keep his team in the lead.

From the corner, Radley Monthy’s curling corner grazed the crossbar as The Lions hang on. In the 41st minute, The Lions could have extended their lead and it all started from a short corner played by captain Lablache to Rashim Padayachy who picked out Damoo who, in the clear, headed over the crossbar.

St Francis should have levelled the score in the 44th minute as The Lions’ defender Ahmed Maurice headed a long ball to Branli Zizi who hurried his shot which flew over the crossbar.

With Nicolas Atala and Alexander Albert coming on, St Francis changed to a three-man defence as they pushed more players forward.

St Francis’ gamble paid dividends as they equalised in the 61st minute from a well-taken free-kick by Malagasy Ducaud whose shot went in off the post to make it 1-1.

St Francis were now more determined and in the 66th minute Radley Monthy set up Antat whose strong shot was pushed out by Dingwall.

The Lions were relying on the counter and in the 72nd minute Damoo raced forward to link up with Denis Auguste who turned a defender but he blazed over the crossbar.

In the 74th minute, St Francis went agonisingly close to take the lead as Antat filtered a pass to Branli Zizi who looked offside but it was not given and the striker rounded goalkeeper Dingwall but his shot was cleared by defender Ahmed Maurice who appeared to block the ball with his hand.

Two minutes later, St Francis’ pressure paid off as Radley Monthy’s long ball into The Lions’ penalty area was cleared as far as substitute Albert who rifled a superb shot which crashed into the roof of the net for a 2-1 score.

St Francis now tried to defend their advantage but Andrew Onezia almost levelled matters in the 81st minute with a dipping free-kick which goalkeeper Morel turned over the crossbar.

In the 88th minute, The Lions equalised after a good move down the right involving Rashim Padayachy and captain Lablache who raced clear and his low shot beat goalkeeper Morel to make it 2-2.

As most were bracing for extra time, St Francis hit back a minute later as Malagasy Hery showed persistence to dispossess Onezia who brought him down in the penalty area. Referee Emile pointed to the penalty spot and Branli Zizi took the responsibility to bury his shot into the net for a final 3-2 scoreline.

St Francis now await the winners of the St Michel-Anse Reunion clash in the semifinal.

R. J-L.

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