St George’s determined to continue fine season

  • Cup hero:  St George’s players surround goalkeeper Freddie Hall after his heroics during a penalty shoot-out in an FA Cup tie against Devonshire Cougars at Wellington Oval last season  

(File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

    Cup hero: St George’s players surround goalkeeper Freddie Hall after his heroics during a penalty shoot-out in an FA Cup tie against Devonshire Cougars at Wellington Oval last season (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The first promotion and relegation spots could be decided in the next two weekends, with Boulevard now just a draw away from the drop and St George’s a point from securing their return to the top flight after a five-year absence.

St George’s, who will be involved in the FA Cup quarter-finals this weekend when they meet X-Roads for the second straight year, will have promotion confirmed on Sunday if Vasco take a point off fourth-place Flanagan’s Onions in a make-up match at Bernard Park.

St George’s, who last played in the top flight in 2014-15, lead the First Division by three points over Devonshire Colts, although more importantly there is a 15-point gap between them and Onions, the only other team that can catch them.

Onions have a game in hand over Vasco and two over the top two, St George’s and Devonshire Colts.

St George’s have 34 points with three games remaining, the same total Onions will finish with if they win their five remaining matches against Vasco, Ireland Rangers, Young Men’s Social Club, St George’s and Wolves. St George’s have a bye next weekend before playing Devonshire Colts and then Onions and Vasco in their final two games.

It has been a good season for the East End club, who boast the best defensive record in the two divisions, conceding just five goals in 13 league matches, with former professional goalkeeper Freddie Hall lending his experience to the defence.

“I want to be assured that we’re up, by points that can’t be reached,” club president Neil Paynter said after the team’s win over neighbours St David’s last weekend.

“When we are promoted, I’ll be very pleased, not only for the club but also the community.

“Zeko [Burgess] has played a few games but Freddie has played the majority of the games. It’s been a great season so far, we’re averaging 25 guys in training.

“The guys have really put in a commitment. It’s not over yet but as of now they have really been committed to the club.”

Promotion inevitable, St George’s can afford to concentrate on the FA Cup where they and Devonshire Colts will be the First Division representatives in the last eight of the competition. St George’s have beaten Premier Division sides Devonshire Cougars, Somerset and Boulevard in the FA Cup in the past three seasons.

Now they hope to avenge last season’s 5-0 loss to eventual finalist X-Roads in the quarter-finals.

“We’re going into that game looking for a victory, because we want to go as far as we can in the FA Cup,” Paynter said.

“If we can get a victory this weekend that would be great, but that is not our main focus, although it is something to play for. Promotion was a part of our plans, last year we fell short a bit but we have a good blend of youth and experience. If promotion happens, which I believe it will, it bodes well for the future.”

St George’s are involved in a tight title race with Devonshire Colts, the division’s top scorers, who could take over first place on goal difference next weekend when they play Social Club and St George’s have a bye. Colts could also clinch promotion that weekend.

Colts and St George’s will meet the following weekend in a match that could go a long way to deciding who finishes top.

“That’s going to be a big game but our destiny is in our hands,” Jarreau Hayward, the St George’s coach, said.

“Devonshire Colts are playing really well right now, they have one of the best coaches [Ray Jones] on the island. After the X-Roads, game we have a break and will re-evaluate things and recover from injuries and then worry about Colts.

“Right now, the most important game is X-Roads because that is the next game. We’re not setting any maximums or minimums as far as goals are concerned, we just want to win the next game and win the game after that.”

Boulevard’s relegation could be sealed next weekend when they play Somerset Eagles, the team nine points above them. Boulevard need to win their remaining four games, and have other results go in their favour, in order to have any chance of avoiding the drop.

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Published Feb 12, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 11, 2020 at 7:40 pm)

St George’s determined to continue fine season

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