Monrovia - Defending champions Montserrado County reached the National County Sports Meet Football last eight as they played out a drab 0-0 draw with group I host, Grand Bassa County, at the Dorris Williams Sports Pitch in Buchanan City, on Friday, April 6.
Both teams went into the match on four points after a win and a draw, so it was destined to be an evening of great tension. And so it proved.
Montserrado showed little ambition going forward, and the hosts were largely happy to play the game at a fast pace and produced several clear-cut chances but were denied by the visitors’ keeper, Vinah Smith, who made double saves at the closing stages of the first 45 minutes.
The Monrovia boys’ coach, Samuel Sumo's side was deserving of their qualification following their blistering performance in their last two games and can now look forward to the quarter-final.
The opening exchanges of the encounter were predictably pedestrian given the state of the tie.
The only real chance of the first half for Montserrado was Robert Taylor’s goal that was disallowed by the central referee on grounds he had fouled the ‘Gbehzohn’ boys’ goalie, Daniel David. Few minutes later, Lucretius Victor’s close range effort was saved by Smith 10 minutes from half-time.
Sebastian Tuclar was sent off for bringing down Victor but the champions held on to their system which provided an illustrative statistic at half-time.
Bassa showed more ambition at the start of the second half and Michael Rogers’ shot from distance went off the post by an inch.
Knowing that a win could see them through, Bassa mounted pressure on the visitors as Augustine Dayogar drew a decent save from Smith with the game's first shot on target in the 52nd minute.
Robert Taylor then had a good chance to release his teammate Dambo Nah but his pass was intercepted as the game ended goalless, which makes Montserrado County to automatically qualify on goal difference. This led to Grand Bassa County boys being knocked-out of a place in the quarterfinals for the first time in five years.
In the second match of the day in Group two, Margibi County were narrow 2-1 winners over under dogs Rivercess County.
Margibi took an early lead in the 12 minute but Rivercess equalized later after poor defending. The game was put to bed three minutes from time when Margibi scored the match winner which qualified them to the quarterfinals.
In Kickball, Grand Bassa & Margibi girls qualified. Bassa defeated Montserrado 2 home runs to zero while Margibi secured similar victory over Rivercess.
In group one, Nimba & Bong qualified in football following their goalless draws while Grand Gedeh were 2-1 winners over Lofa County.
In Kickball Nimba and Lofa made it through to Monrovia; Bong lost to the defending champions Nimba 9 to 3 home runs and Lofa demolished Grand Gedeh 17 to 3 home runs.
In other results, Grand Cape Mount & Bomi made it to the quarterfinals in both kickball and football. Bomi sealed a 3-2 victory over Gbarpolu County on match-day three.
Sinoe and River Gee counties fought had to qualify from the southeast as Sinoe proved their supremacy over Maryland County with a 2-0 win and River Gee beat Grand Kru 1-0.
KICKBALL: Maryland & Grand Kru
Sinoe 6 Vs 9 Maryland, Grand Kru 2 Vs 3 River Gee
Meanwhile the steering committee chair of this year’s County Meet, J. Bryant McGill, has confirmed that Grand Bassa has filed an appeal to the committee to look in to their claims which was trash by the protest committee.
He said Bassa protested that Margibi County used an illegal player. Their complain was, however, dismissed by the protest committee; but has now taken their case to the Appeals Committee. If Margibi is found guilty, they will not play in the quarterfinals.
As it stands, Margibi and Montserrado are the two teams which qualified from group 2.
The Quarterfinals is expected to be played from Saturday, April 14 to Sunday, 22nd.