SINGAPORE - With a key defender suspended and their team captain struggling with an injury, St Gabriel's Secondary School's teacher-in-charge of football Laura Huang was hardly confident of her team's chances in the Schools National B Division boys' League Three final against Spectra Secondary School on Monday (April 8).
To make things worse, St Gabriel's winger Joshua Joseph suffered a cut to his face in the 21st minute and his replacement Aryan Menon was sent off in the 30th minute for arguing with the referee.
Luckily for them, Spectra also went down to 10 men seven minutes later when Muhammad Ryan Tsaqif received his marching orders for a second yellow card.
St Gabriel's then made their numerical advantage count when goals from centre back Gideon Tai (40th minute) and striker Aiman Yazid (76th) sealed a 2-0 win at Our Tampines Hub.
"The result was definitely better than what I had expected. Our main defender was serving a suspension and our captain sustained an injury during the semi-finals so he was limping throughout this match," said Huang.
"We didn't expect to come so far, but we just kept telling ourselves to try our best. Even when the situation was not advantageous to us, we did not let it get to us. We fought on, we never thought about giving up."
The two red cards dominated the proceedings in the first half as both teams had a go at each other but could not find a breakthrough.
That was until St Gabriel's Gideon curled in a superb free kick to give his team the lead just before half-time.
Spectra went in search of an equaliser in the second half, but the St Gabriel's defence stood firm.
Striker Aiman then dashed Spectra's hopes of a comeback when he found the net in the 76th minute.
Gideon, who was named the Man of the Match, said: "I was so excited and happy after I scored because it was almost half-time and it was my first goal for the school in my four years.
"Before the game, I told my teammates that I will work as hard as I can to get the goal so I'm very happy that I scored."
Despite the loss, Spectra coach Ashraf Ariffin was proud of his team's performance.
"We started off very good, but we didn't finish our chances and then when we lost a man, the boys lost a bit of focus.
"After we conceded the goal late in the first half, it was quite hard to get back into the game in the second half. They did all that they could and gave their best and that is all that we ask for."
Yesterday's League Three final was the first of five finals in the B boys' football tournament this year.
In the preliminary rounds, all schools are split into 16 groups with five to six schools per group.
The teams are placed in five leagues - from League One to Five - based on the positions they finished in their groups.