'Phantom goal' denies Harbour View
Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer
After topping last season's South Central Confederation Super League to gain promotion to the Digicel Premier League (DPL), Clarendon-based Humble Lion are showing that they belong in top-flight football, after playing to a 1-1 draw with league leaders Harbour View on Sunday at the Harbour View Mini Stadium.
With the penultimate round of the season coming to an end, Humble Lion have the distinction of being the only team to have so far avoided defeat at the hands of the Stars of the East. They are also the only team to have scored in all three encounters with the league leaders, following a 1-1 draw in the first round and a 1-0 win in the second round.
These results have left Harbour View's coach, Donovan Hayles, with a lot of respect for his opponents.
"We haven't beaten Humble Lion all season; they have done well in all three games," said Hayles.
"Humble Lion is doing well and I have a lot of respect for them. They show that they really belong in this league. So, one can only say hats off to them and it is good when a team comes up and shows that they have the quality to play in the league," he added.
It had, however, appeared that Humble Lion were in for a long night after Harbour View took the lead with the first meaningful attack of the game in the fourth minute. John Ross Edwards made a good run down the right flank before supplying a lovely cross to the back post for an unmarked Rafeik Thomas, who, despite going away from goal, was able to get off a looping header which went over the head of Humble Lion's keeper, Shawn Sawyers, and nestled in the back of the net.
Humble Lion roared back and found the equaliser the 22nd minute, albeit in a controversial manner, as it was not clear if the ball had crossed the line.
They took a long throw from close to the corner flag, which was flicked on by a Humble Lion player, resulting in a comedy of errors with several Harbour View players missing opportunities to clear and the ball hitting the back of their keeper, Michaud Barrett, before Roberto Fletcher somehow managed to get the ball over the line.
Assistant referee Keble Williams did not signal the goal, but referee Raymond Bogle viewed it as one and after some consultation he upheld that decision.
Hayles found the conversion hard to accept and viewed it as a 'phantom goal'.
"It was a phantom goal. Somehow it seems to be controversial but I can't tell from the distance I was," said Hayles.
"It was a bitter pill to swallow because looking on at the officials, the person who was in the best position seems to have not given the goal and the referee overruled him, and so it looked a phantom goal to me," he added.
Humble Lion's coach, Christopher Bender, though, was pleased with his team's showing, but was disappointed not to have got three points.
Bender said: "Commendations to the team, but in the overall context we needed three points in terms of what we are hoping to achieve. So it is fair in terms of not losing to the Harbour View team, but in the context of the overall points standing, we hoped that we could have garnered three points here."
The result saw Harbour View's (61) lead atop the standings trimmed to one point after second-place Tivoli Gardens (60) secured a 3-0 home win over St Georges, while Humble Lion (35) hung on to eighth position.