THE 2019 Terminix Super League ended in dramatic fashion, on Saturday, as sixth-placed Matura ReUnited converted a stoppage time penalty to earn a 2-2 draw against Bethel United to keep the latter in second position on the standings and hand Prisons FC the title.
Prisons FC and Bethel United, of Tobago, both ended on 29 points after 12 rounds of action, but Prisons FC won the title because of a superior goal difference. Prisons ended the season with a goal difference of +26 compared to +13 by Bethel.
The match did not end in good spirits as the Bethel players hurled insults at referee Rashby McFie. Bethel players felt the penalty was soft and it should not have been given. Some of the players also felt that because McFie is a member of Prisons he gave Matura the stoppage time penalty to earn Matura the draw and hand Prisons the crown.
One player was heard saying, "He is a prisons officer, he want Prisons to win." Joel Hoyte converted the penalty in the seventh minute of stoppage time to equalise for Matura ReUnited after Irvin Reyes was fouled just inside the box. Earlier in the match, Reyes gave Matura the lead in the 13th minute, before Tee Jay Cadiz levelled the match for Bethel in the 31st minute. Shaquille Cox gave Bethel their first lead of the match with a 65th minute strike. A number of Bethel players fell to the ground injured in the latter stages of the match which may have led to the seven minutes of stoppage time.
Reserve goalkeeper for Bethel Keston Saul, speaking with Newsday after the match, said the referee did not have the best match but Bethel could have converted their chances. "He (referee) could have done better, I am not putting blame (on him) because we had opportunities to score and to win but we still had it hard because I understand – I don't know if it is true – that the referee is also a prisons officer and we are fighting with Prisons for the league."
The match referee also told Newsday that one of the linesmen is also from the prisons service.
There was some confusion with the standings over the past two weeks. On December 15, the TT Super League competition manager, Richard Piper, issued a media release, at 6.21 pm, announcing Prisons were the 2019 champions after their game against Police FC, at the YTC Ground in Arouca, ended in a 2-2 draw. It meant Prisons moved to 29 points, four more than nearest challengers Bethel United, who had a match in hand.
However, at 6.50 pm on the same day, the league sent another release, indicating Bethel were successful in appealing the disciplinary committee’s decision to award Police the win in their November 10 clash.
That game between Bethel and Police, which took place at the Mt Gomery Recreation Ground, ended 2-0 in Bethel’s favour. However, Police protested the unfit conditions at the venue and were later awarded a 3-0 win, by default, from the disciplinary committee.
Bethel’s successful appeal put them just one point behind Prisons heading into Saturday's match against Matura ReUnited.
Saul said the team was not distracted by the changes in the points standings during the last two weeks. "We still had our focus and the task that we had to do because we know that we wanted to come out to play to win the league."
Prisons FC coach Anderson Veronique, was happy his team won the title, but said he tried to put the confusion with the standings behind him. "About a week ago I put that to rest, I moved on from that."
Veronique said he was satisfied with his team's efforts, saying his players had three matches in the space of seven days earlier in the campaign and earning seven points out of a possible nine points during that week help set up the title run.
Despite the heartbreaking end to the season, Saul said it was a memorable one for Bethel.
"The season was good for us because since we are in the Super League it is the highest that we have ever come although we had intentions of winning it, but tough luck today."