Crusaders extend first place lead

John Browne
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But Holy Cross coach hesistates to say top spot is all wrapped up

When you dominate in every position on the field you should expect to win, so it was no surprise Holy Cross/Kirby Group blanked Feildians/Ernst and Young Orenda 3-0 in Molson Challenge Cup soccer Wednesday night at King George V Park.

Matthew Wilkins, left, of the Feildians and Holy Cross’ Jeff Slaney, right, chase after a loose ball in first-half action of their Molson Challlenge Cup soccer game at King George V Wednesday evening. The Crusaders lead 1-0 after the first-half on a goa

However, while the first-place Crusaders hold a 13-point lead on runner-up St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians, coach Jake Stanford bristled at the suggestion his team has top spot in the bag.

“Our goal is first place, but anything can happen. Until we get there, we’re not happy and we’re not there yet,” Stanford said.

“There’s still a mathematical chance of St. Lawrence or Mount Pearl catching us. So until we’ve got those points under our belts, which guarantees us first, we’re not happy,” said Stanford.

“We’ve been training pretty hard and we’ll continue to train hard. Our games are a result of our training.”

As it turned out, the final outcome of Wednesday’s match may have turned on a red card.

Referee Shannon Tobin handed out four yellow cards — two to each side — and a red card to Feildians star striker Matthew Wilkins.

With Holy Cross holding a 1-0  lead, Wilkins blasted a shot at the Crusaders goal seconds after an offside whistle. When some Holy Cross players objected and got too close, Wilkins raised his hand and caught one of the red shirts in the face. The referee had no choice but to eject the Double Blues leading scorer.

Any chance Feildians had of tying or winning the match went out the door at that point.

The ejection seemed to completely deflate the Double Blues who were forced to play shorthanded for the final 30 minutes.

Things pretty much fell apart for the Double Blues after that with Ryan Yetman scoring on long drives at 68 and 80 minutes. His first was a high-hard scorcher that Feildians goalkeeper Ryan Decker had no chance to stop.

“He (Yetman) doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” said Stanford.

“We’ve been training pretty hard and we’ll continue to train hard. Our games are a result of our training.” Jake Stanford

“He’s our captain and our leader. He doesn’t score too many goals, so I think he was pretty happy with putting those goals in.

“I think the last time I saw him score like that was when I coached him at under-14s.”

The goals were Yetman’s fourth and fifth this season.

Holy Cross defender Jeremy Babstock opened the scoring on a high, long free kick at the 10-minute mark of the game.

Decker appeared to be caught off his mark. He scrambled back but he couldn’t keep the ball from finding the corner of the net.

Despite holding the half-time lead, Stanford had a few words to say to his team in the dressing room.

“The effort wasn’t good enough. We were kind of complacent,” said Stanford.

“Feildians were winning a couple 50-50 balls, so I made a few changes.”

Scott Edwards needed to make a couple of saves to earn the shutout, but the superb Holy Cross backline swallowed up most of the Feildians attacks pretty easily.

“They’ve been solid the last seven or eight games,’ said Stanford of his team’s talented defence. “We’re pretty happy with them lately.”

Decker was much busier in the Feildians net. While the first half was relatively even, the Crusaders controlled most of the final 45 minutes and had several scoring chances.

Just before Yetman’s first marker, the Crusaders’ Jake Warren had a glorious chance to score.

Warren deftly brought down a high ball to his foot and drilled a shot from about eight yards at Decker who made a quick reaction foot save.

Geographic location: Mount Pearl

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