The Coca-Cola-sponsored Barbados Secondary School Football Under-19 League match between hosts Combermere School and Lester Vaughan ended prematurely this afternoon after the game turned into a violent confrontation involving players from both teams.
Police from the nearby District A Station were called in to placate the situation after the top-flight Division One game got ugly. It all occurred in the 51st minute when Jahmali Hutson of Lester Vaughan responded aggressively to a reckless tackle from Combermere defender Ramon Toppin. It got quite physical between these two at this stage and some of their teammates then joined in the ensuing melee.
Before the game degenerated into fisticuffs, Lester Vaughan had scored first in the 15th minute of play, and Combermere responded with the equalizer through national Under-20 player Andre Applewhaite in the 33rd minute. The talented midfielder then gave Combermere a 2-1 advantage when he completed a brace on the stroke of half-time in the 45th minute.
But tournament organizers have plenty of questions to answer. Inexplicably, there was no official referee present for the scheduled secondary school league encounter. The match which kicked off just after 4.p.m. was officiated by Combermere cricket coach Keon Wiltshire who carried the game without any objections from either team.
It was an extremely physical exchange with a series of dangerous tackles, and there were several indiscipline moments that would have taken a more experienced referee to calm the players down and exert greater control of the match-up.
Whether Wiltshire had the requisite experience of an official or accredited referee was brought into question as there were too many instances where players should have been cautioned with yellow or red cards for a series of senseless and dangerous tackles. The repeated unsavoury language from one Lester Vaughan defender was another prime example of the game being allowed to get out of control. One adult on the sidelines who tried to intervene became the victim of a vitriolic outburst from the same defender.
That adult subsequently called the police after being threatened by the Lester Vaughan defender who had to be restrained numerous times by his coach Adrian Mapp and other teammates.
The defender escaped what should have been an automatic red card seconds before the first half ended when he attacked a Combermere player. Instead, he walked off the field and later returned at the beginning of the second half which was a palpable error on the part of coach Mapp to send him back on.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY afterwards Mapp said his team came to play football and had never been previously involved in such a scenario before.
Defensively, the two teams were strong, and Combermere with seven national Under-17 players in their squad dominated the midfield with Applewhaite and Nathan Skeete working the flanks while Devonte Richards effectively marshaled the center.
After Lester Vaughan with two wins, one draw and a loss so far in the league took a 1-0 lead, Combermere wasted no time in finding the equalizer. Constant pressure in Lester Vaughan’s goal area resulted in Applewhaite being brought down inside the danger zone. He then ensured parity in the fixture by burying his well taken shot into the back of the net from the 12-yard spot.
Then Combermere with three wins, a draw and a loss took the lead compliments Applewhaite again. Positioned on the left, he capitalized on a goal- scoring opportunity after a superbly struck shot from Skeete was initially denied by custodian Stephan Elliot. Applewhaite then made the best possible use of the rebound that came his way.
Efforts by Barbados Today to reach the president of the BSSFL Wren Ramsay after the melee was unsuccessful up to publication time.