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Keith Griffith, the Barbados-born coach of Joe Public FC, has pleaded with the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League to postpone the upcoming First Citizens Cup Final to next Sunday to give his team a few days rest from their hectic match schedule.
Griffith's appeal came immediately after Joe Public's slender 1-0 victory over Pro League leaders CLICO San Juan Jabloteh in their First Citizens Cup semi-final on Friday night at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.

A 47th minute Gregory Richardson goal gave the Eastern Lions victory against a game Jabloteh, who pressed the action despite being reduced to ten players following the 31st minute dismissal of striker Jerol Forbes.

Griffith said that after playing the Montreal Impact in very cold conditions in Canada on Wednesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League, Joe Public had to travel all day and arrived "jet-lagged" on Thursday night, before playing their Cup semi against Jabloteh a day later.

Next on their schedule is a Champions League home game on Wednesday, with the Cup final scheduled for Friday.

The coach added that Joe Public were representing both Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean when playing in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and begged the authorities' understanding.

Some of his players, he said, needed a rest after recently playing a series of matches with the T&T and Jamaica national teams, as well as both in the Pro League and Champions League.

"We will hope that the sponsors and the Pro League will understand the human side of it and probably give us a few days, because we are playing Olympia (Honduras champions) at home on Wednesday...and we would like to play the Final (First Citizens) on Sunday."

"When we play on the 24th (FC Olympia) and if we have to play this final (versus W Connection) on the 26th, then on Monday (September 29) we leave for Mexico (to play Atlante). So it is really tough. So we will prefer to have the game put back a few days, not for our favour, but for the human part of the situation."

Griffith, 64, felt Joe Public's First Citizens semi-final was both entertaining and exciting, but argued that the better team won.

Indeed, there was little to separate the bitter rivals until Forbes put in a tough tackle on defender Jason Springer near the Joe Public corner flag and was red-carded by referee Austin Perelion.

The ref was also involved in a few other controversial moments. First, he played just 43 minutes in the first half; got in the way and almost set up an equaliser for Jabloteh's Devon Jamerson; and also disallowed what looked like the equaliser from Jabloteh's Karlon Murray with about two minutes left.

Despite going a man down early, Jabloteh remained competitive and produced a flurry of chances immediately after Forbes' dismissal.

Striker Noel Williams had a clear sight on the Joe Public goal, but hit a left-footer over the bar, and soon after Joe Public keeper Alejandro Figueroa made a double save to keep both last season's top player Marvin Oliver and Williams from scoring.

It was just two minutes into the second half when pacy Guyanese Richardson used a minimum of space to beat keeper Cleon John at the near post with a low shot. Moments later, Richardson's speed almost set up another after he cut the ball back from the bye-line to Shane Calderon, whose stab sent it too close to John.

Once behind, Jabloteh again created a couple good chances. But Joe Public's Jamaican striker Roen Nelson had two clear chances after coming on in the second half and really should have killed the game.

Twice Nelson cleared the Jabloteh defenders, but found keeper John too good. And it all might have turned sour for Joe Public had Murray's goal stood after he forced in Trent Noel's cross at the back post in the 88th minute.

Some fans argued that Murray forced in the ball with his torso, but the match official ruled he had illegally handled it.
Referee Perelion feeds the Lions.
Questionable officiating taints Cup semis.
By: Lasana Liburd (Express).

If Austin Perelion was a safety inspector in a country with a penchant for accountability, he may have been unemployable after his work on Friday night at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella. But Perelion does not make life-altering decisions. He is a football referee.

Nobody died on Friday night. But the 30-odd people employed by CLICO San Juan Jabloteh Football Club-and possibly their relatives, supporters and loved ones-were unlikely to have slept well.

Jabloteh, who are a powerhouse in the T&T Pro League but rarely dominant in knockout competitions, were ousted from the First Citizens Cup semi-final after a 1-0 loss to rivals, bmobile Joe Public.

But Jabloteh coach Terry Fenwick might still be wondering about several curious refereeing decisions, including the 31st minute expulsion of key striker Jerol Forbes and a late disallowed "goal".

Joe Public may have won anyway. The "Eastern Lions" created good scoring opportunities in either half and could have easily managed a second goal. But it is the "what ifs" that hurts most, particularly when the influential factor is not a teammate or direct competitor.

Perelion did a disservice to a fine, competitive match.

It is a pity because, although I never met the official, I always enjoyed his work. Perelion might have lacked Noel Bynoe's presence or Neil Brizan's athleticism but he seemed to have personality to spare.

Chest out-and sometimes accentuated by willfully ignoring his top button-Perelion strutted around the field like the players' equal and everyone bought it. His calm demeanor often defused situations without the use of the card. A smile or a wink with palms gesticulating towards the ground and everything always seemed alright again.

He almost made refereeing appear cool.

But it is three years since Perelion, wh o turned 50 in 2007, officiated at the highest level of the domestic game. He does not work in the bmobile Super League either.

These days, Perelion works as a referees assessor and instructor, while he only carries the whistle in South Zone fixtures. But a quirk of fate saw the official recalled for, arguably, the most keenly anticipated Cup match of the season thus far.

Julian Drayton was initially scheduled to officiate but received compassionate leave to visit his ailing father. And an early morning fitness examination for other referees meant that many of his Pro League peers might have felt leg weary-according to a match commissioner.

So Perelion got the nod.

Apart from ordering the demonstrative Fenwick to return to the bench, Perelion had a calm opening half hour as Public and Jabloteh prodded each other in a manner that augured well for the contest.

The official's first meaningful test came in the 31st minute.

Forbes attempted to dribble Public full back Jason Springer but was stripped of possession. Anxious to atone, Forbes lunged in to block the clearance only to take Springer's legs, instead.

Merere Gonzales, a former World Cup official and a FIFA instructor, explained that the three categories of foul recognition were "careless tackle", "reckless tackle" and "excessive force". Only excessive force was deemed to merit a straight red card.

"Excessive force occurs when you are showing no regard whatsoever for the safety of the opponent," Gonzales told the Sunday Express, "and the tackle is bordering on brutality-like an elbow in the head or studs into the thigh."

Forbes was certainly careless and maybe reckless too. The former brings a verbal warning while a reckless challenge is punishable by a caution. But surely Forbes' clumsy challenge was not a willful attempt to maim.

Perelion clearly thought otherwise and Jabloteh were reduced to ten players.

Two minutes into the second half, they were a goal behind Public as well after a sharp finish from talented Guyanese striker Gregory Richardson, who is surely in the form of his life at present.

Jabloteh went for broke and, in the 82nd minute, thought they drew level when Karlon Murray bundled a Trent Noel cross over the goal line. Their euphoria quickly soured as Perelion disallowed the item on the advice of his assistant Anaaz Mohammed.

It is uncertain whether Mohammed's raised flag indicated offside or a handled ball. Noel's advanced position when he crossed made an offside verdict unlikely, although not impossible, while, if the arm was used, surely Perelion was better placed to spot it.

Jabloteh's feeling of injustice was near full blown now.

Five minutes later, Noel slipped a pass for substitute Jason Marcano, who stumbled after a trip from a Public defender, but regained his balance and was about to enter the opposing penalty area when Perelion blew to award Jabloteh a free kick.

The men in green shirts and black pants were red with rage at losing what looked to be an advantage.

Perelion's closing act was to offer just one minute of extra time although there were six substitutions and at least two stoppages for medical attention during the second half.

Gonzales did not attend the Marabella match but felt it "unrealistic" that a game with so many substitutions would receive less than three minutes added on time.

"There is no specific law in allotting time for each stoppage," said Gonzales. "But the match allows for a reasonable amount of time to be added for substitutions, injuries and other stoppages in the course of the game.

"(Friday's decision) is something the referees association will have to look at otherwise we will have unnecessary controversy."

There are rarely tragedies in the back pages of the newspaper and Friday night was no different. But Perelion surely did an injustice to an enthralling match and, in the process, further undermined the status of his colleagues in black. The Pro League deserve better.
W Connection into 8th final.
By: Ian Prescott (Express).

Except for the very first edition in 2000, W Connection FC have been in all finals of the First Citizens Cup. On Friday night, W Connection reached their eighth straight First Citizens Cup final following a 2-0 victory over St Ann's Rangers at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Maraballa.

An early penalty by Dominican Republic striker Jonathan Frias was the opening item of a low-keyed affair, before his replacement Teba McKnight added further insurance by scoring a second goal in the 73rd minute, after just seven minutes on the field.

Frias converted the spot-kick which he won himself when he was chopped down by Rangers keeper Shane Mattis, while McKnight ran down the centre to stroke in a pass from Colombian utility player Christian Viveros.

Rangers pressed for the equaliser for long periods in the second half, without really threatening to score. Afterwards, W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier said he was looking forward to a tough final next Friday against Joe Public.

"The final will be tough, because Joe Public has been playing well. In the two games that I saw them play in the (CONCACAF) Champions League, I thought they played well. The last game, which they lost (versus Montreal Impact), I thought they could have won because they created more chances than their opponents," said Fevrier. "But we will make a professional preparation for this final, because we are a team who take finals seriously."