Vessigny Secondary pulled off the biggest upset of the 2004 RBTT Intercol competition thus far, knocking off Secondary Schools Football League South Zone runners-up Princes Town Senior Comprehensive 3-1 on penalties yesterday to book their place in the zonal semi-finals, albeit in controversial circumstances.
Their encounter at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, though a happy occasion for Vessigny, was marred by an incident in which a Princes Town supporter-incensed by a contentious decision by the referee to discount a P/Town penalty in the decisive shoot-out-spat in the face of one of the referee's assistants as the officials entered the tunnel en route to the dressing rooms after the game.
The underdogs, who ended the league just outside the relegation zone, began the first match of yesterday's double-header in determined fashion, attacking P/Town very early. But their frontline, who had had the better of the opening exchanges, left a lot to be desired as they muffed several promising challenges in the first period.
P/Town also had their splashes of brilliance, but some sluggish and unenthusiastic play allowed their opponents to avert danger time and time again.
Their best attempt of the first half came from a Timothy John free kick, but his effort sailed overbar from a dangerous position about 19 metres out.
An otherwise largely dull first half containing a rash of injudicious tackles from both sides produced no goals.
The second half was a bit more entertaining, Gerron McKnight skimming the Vessigny bar in the 47th minute, while P/Town custodian Renwick Rondell was instrumental in denying Vessigny striker Khalil Commissiong in the 61st minute, holding onto a strong shot at his far post.
In the 76th, P/Town's Keon Glasgow was ejected for a glaring tackle down his team's left flank, where his senseless sliding challenge upended Kurt Williams.
But some searching Vessigny runs ended fruitless-mainly through some poor finishing, as well as sound goalkeeping from Rondell. But neither team could find the net in regulation time, and the game moved into extra time.
After a drab ten-minute first half, Tsion Thomas's low shot was blocked by Rondell by a reflex save with his legs, then Timmy Hernandez headed overbar from a Vessigny corner in the 101st minute.
Three minutes later Vessigny 'keeper Kona Modeste had to be at his best to prevent Ryan Forbes' brilliant header from reaching its mark.
It came down to kicks from the penalty spot to decide and Karym Balthazar stepped up to convert for Vessigny. But misses from Alvin Alexander and Hernandez, and a conversion from Akil Bruce after two previous misses put P/Town level at 1-1.
Kurt Williams put Vessigny 2-1 up before the dubious save where Ryan Forbes's attempt appeared initially pushed, but bungled into the net by Modeste.
The attempt, though, was discounted, to P/Town's dismay, before Maurice Boodoo scored Vessigny's third to put them in the South Zone Intercol semi-finals.
In the second match of the evening at the same venue, St Benedict's College kept their nerve after conceding in the 71st minute to Moruga Composite to win the encounter 2-1.
Amin Julien put Moruga ahead late in the second half, but four minutes later, Adrian Paul equalised in the 75th, before Akil Belfon sent his team into the "semis" with a 79th minute penalty.
Today's Intercol action will feature 2003 champions St Anthony's College as they begin their National Intercol title defence against lowly Tranquillity Government Secondary at 3 p.m., while an unpredictable Malick Senior Comprehensive tackle QRC in the second match of the double-header from 5 p.m. at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
In Central Zone Intercol play, Tabaquite Composite and Chaguanas Senior Comprehensive slug it out at the Ato Boldon Stadium from 3 p.m., before Carapichaima Senior Comprehensive meet Union Claxton Bay Secondary from 5 p.m. at the same ground.