Sat, Aug

Two sendings off, one for either side brought a dead game to life.

The first, the ejection of Naparima College main man Kezi Lara altered the match, and perhaps even the championship race in the South Zone of the BG T&T Secondary Schools Football League.

Until Lara was dismissed in the 65th minute, for what seemed from distance, an innocuous clash in midfield with an opponent from Princes Town Senior Comprehensive, the two top of the table sides were level at 1-1. By the end of the game, P.Town were 3-1 winners and just a single point behind "Naps" with four games to play.

The plot down South thickened even further with St Benedict's College's crucial 3-2 road win at previously second Mayaro Composite. Goals by Kendel Penny, Robert O'Brien and Matthew Bartholomew also took the "La Romaine Lions" (18 points) to within a point of Naparima. But P.Town will be second on goal difference.

The Princes Town boys will be ecstatic with that success, especially since it was the first their great rivals have suffered this season.

But in truth, Lara's indiscretion had as much to do with the final result as P.Town's play, if even indirectly.

Long before then however, the Naps No.10 had shown his better side.

Having hit a double on Saturday against Mayaro, he scored the game's first goal after 17 minutes yesterday, holding off his marker on the right side of the penalty area, cutting inside, thus eliminating him and the advancing P.Town goalkeeper Renwick Rondell, and shooting into a poorly protected net.

The Lara effort was only the second goal attempt of the contest. And with the fourth, the first for Princes Town, the scores were leveled.

Lara's brother and skipper Dezi was at fault, being dispossessed by Ronald Whisky who quickly slipped the ball into the path of Neptune who neatly stabbed a shot past Naps keeper Leston Shade.

There was little else to distinguish the half. Perhaps two games in three days was too much of a strain for the players.

And things seemed to be going from bad to worse in a rapidly deteriorating second period until Lara, already with a red card this season, was given his marching orders.

That gave fresh hope to P.Town. The "Green Hornets" moved with greater purpose, and 11 minutes after the Lara dismissal, they took the lead.

Keeper Shade's unsure handling eventually let him down fatally when he failed to hold a fairly tame shot from distance and Neptune was on spot to smack the rebound into the rood of the net.

So thrilled was he with his double, that he ran around in barebacked celebration which promptly earned him a second yellow card and an early shower.

It was 10-10 on the field and 2-1 on the scoreboard.

Naps had been given an unexpected lifeline. But without Lara, they could find no point of focus for their desperation. And in about the third minute of injury time in deep gloom, Cillon Moore, darkened the Naps mood with a low drilled shot past Shade.

The game was over. But the race in South is on.