Two-time Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division champions Naparima College saw their stranglehold on school football slip further yesterday, as they suffered a 4-2 loss at the feet of St Anthony’s College in Westmoorings.
Prior to kick off, the Angus Eve-coached Naparima outfit trailed the red-hot Shiva Boys Hindu College team by two points. And, after yesterday’s intriguing wrangling with the “Westmoorings Tigers”, the gap from the leaders widened to five points with both teams having three games left.
Shiva Boys are on 28 points, while “Naps” and St Anthony’s sit on 23 and 22 respectively.
Presentation College (San Fernando) leaped into second spot with 26 points after they eked out a 1-0 win against the struggling San Juan North Secondary. But, although the “Pres Lions” only trail Shiva by two points, they have played one more game than their southern rivals.
The stylish Shiva Boys, who boast of the likes of Yohannes Richardson, Quinn Rodney, Judah Garcia and Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel, have only lost the solitary game in this SSFL season to date.
And after Shiva’s 5-nil mauling of QRC in Penal yesterday, both Naps and Pres will hope that another north school, St Mary’s College, will have better luck at stopping the free-flowing play of Pappy and the gang on Wednesday.
The rejuvenated “Saints”, who are fifth with 20 points, are at full pelt too and stretched their unbeaten run to eight games yesterday with a goalless draw against table proppers, St Benedict’s College.
Arguably, though, Rodney and Emmanuel’s decision not to accept a call-up by Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams—and Under-17 coach Russell Latapy’s snub of Garcia—has played a key role in this season’s SSFL top flight competition.
In Westmoorings yesterday, two teams who have felt the brunt of supplying players to the National Under-17 and Under-20 teams—St Anthony’s and Naparima—battled it out in the blazing sun.
Naps aren’t two-time Premier Division champs for nothing. And, despite being without the influential duo of Isaiah Hudson and skipper Shane Sandy, the southerners settled in smartly.
Former Trinity College East player, Andre Raymond, who did not make Russell Latapy’s final cut, set up the opening goal as he blew by his marker down the left flank and squared for the lanky Renaldo McIntosh to tap home in the eighth minute.
Raymond was buzzing down the flank in the early going, as he created panic in the Tigers defence. But National Under-17 winger Tyrese Bailey was matching his menace at the opposite end.
Bailey’s immediate opposition on the day was Naparima left-back Khris Stroud. And let’s just say the slender winger was very inhospitable to his guest.
“We watched them a couple games and we saw the weaknesses and the strengths,” St Anthony’s coach Ronal Daniel told Wired868. “So we opted to [exploit] the weakness [which was the left side].”
Eve grew increasingly uncomfortable on the touchline and even sent one of his substitutes to warm-up after only 10 minutes. Stroud was like a ticking time-bomb.
In what was an action-packed first half, Renaldo Francois and SSFL leading goal scorer Isaiah Lee missed presentable opportunities to extend Naps’ lead. And in the 29th minute, diminutive St Anthony’s defender Derron John made the visitors pay the price from the penalty spot after a handball in the area, as he squeezed his left-footer into the bottom left corner despite a valiant dive by Naparima custodian Levi Fernandez.
Inexplicably, Stroud decided to give John another go as, within seconds, he chopped down the tricky Bailey to give St Anthony’s a second penalty. And, as he did two minutes prior, John passed his penalty past the outstretched Fernandez to put the hosts ahead.
Eve was probably seething on the inside.
In the 33rd minute, Eve swapped Stroud with his right winger, McIntosh, before quickly shuffling again as Raymond was asked to deputise at full back next.
“I had to take the chance and move the wing back,” Eve told Wired868. “And Raymond is the only player who is suitable to play there. We do have a lot of attacking players but we are very limited in defence.”
Although the hosts found considerable joy after exposing Naparima’s left side, the visitors were still creating good chances of their own. However, with the goal at his mercy, Francois hit the crossbar after receiving a right side cross in the 56th minute. It turned out to be a miss of gigantic proportions.
Two minutes after Francois’ glaring miss, the Tigers grabbed their third goal, as pint-sized midfielder Shem Clauzel squeezed an effort over the line—despite valiant efforts by centre-backs Tyrike Andrews and Jeron Pantor—during a mad scramble in the visitors penalty area.
“If we had scored when we were 2-1 down when Renaldo [Francois] hit the post maybe it would have been a different game but that’s how the game goes,” said Eve. “After the Renaldo [Francois] miss, St Anthony’s picked it up a bit in midfield…”
Eve turned to his bench, as he introduced the likes of Akinola Gregory and former National Under-17 player Shobal Celestin. But it was St Anthony’s who struck next in the 71st minute.
Daniel will tell you that St Anthony’s fourth item was made on the training ground while Eve may argue that it came from a comic script.
After taking an age to take a deep, right side free kick, John nonchalantly picked out an unmarked Bailey at the back stick and the winger headed across the face of goal for forward Haile Beckles to nod in unchallenged. It was easier than Sunday morning.
There was some consolation for Naps, as Lee notched his 13th goal of the SSFL campaign with an absolute rocket from outside the area in the 77th minute. The former St Augustine schoolboy has scored more than half of Naparima’s goals so far this season. But yesterday his peach was too little, too late.
“Yeah [this loss] will dent our title hopes,” said Eve. “I told the boys we are basically trying to make the Big Four [Super Cup at the end of the season] after the loss today.
“Shiva won again and I can’t really see anybody beating them. This is their year […] They have not sent their players to play for the national teams like other teams. And I guess the boys took that decision together with the staff and they are getting the just rewards for it.
“They should win the [SSFL Premier Division].”
Eve couldn’t possibly be surrendering the SSFL title so soon. On Wednesday, the relegation-threatened QRC “Royalians” will probably find out when they visit the southerner’s headquarters in Lewis Street, San Fernando.
St Anthony’s College (4-3-3): 26.Elijah Shade (GK); 16.Jordan Barclay (6.Kheisa Granger 18), 23.Sowande Prieto, 27.Derron John, 5.Marc Robertson; 13.Shem Clauzel, 9.Nkosi Salandy, 8.Jules Lee (captain); 10.Tyrese Bailey (14.Nicaya Mahon 88), 17.Krishon Alexander (4.Che Benny 78), 11.Haile Beckles.
Unused Substitutes: 2.Shakir Clapham, 15.Nicholas Moyou, 18.Ronaldo Jacob, 19.Jakeem McNeil.
Coach: Ronald Daniel
Naparima College (4-2-3-1): Levi Fernandez (GK); 4.Aalon Minors, 2.Tyrike Andrews, 13.Jeron Pantor, 3.Khris Stroud (7.Akinola Gregory 59); 6.Judah St Louis (16.Decklan Marcelle 59), 21.Justin Sadoo (captain); 18.Renaldo McIntosh (9.Shobal Celestin 59), 23.Renaldo Francois, 19.Andre Raymond; 12.Isaiah Lee.
Unused Substitutes: 30.Enrique Changiah (GK), 10.Jeremiah Kesar, 15.Shadeon Arthur, 26.Sylon Sylvan.
Coach: Angus Eve
Referee: Gyasi McDonald
Man of the Match: Tyrese Bailey (St Anthony’s College)
SSFL Premier Division Results
(Saturday 15 October)
Shiva Boys HC 5 (Junior Assoon 21, Renaldo Edwards 29, Quinn Rodney 23, 67, 87), QRC 0 at Penal;
Trinity College Moka 0, East Mucurapo 0 at Moka;
Presentation San F’do 1 (Nion Lammy 41), San Juan North 0 at Guaracara Park;
Signal Hill 2 (Akil Frank 11, 41), St Augustine 0 at Signal Hill;
St Mary’s College 0, St Benedict’s College 0 at St Mary’s;
St Anthony’s College 4 (Derron John 29 pen, 30 pen, Shem Clauzel 58, Haile Beckles 71), Naparima College 2 (Renaldo McIntosh 16, Isaiah Lee 77) at St Anthony’s;
Pleasantville 1 (Denzil Marcano 65), Fatima College 1 (Justin Araujo-Wilson 59) at Pleasantville;
Fyzabad Secondary were on a Bye
(Wednesday 19 October) [All games kick off at 3.30pm]
St Augustine vs East Mucurapo at St Augustine;
Shiva Boys HC vs St Mary’s College at Penal;
Naparima College vs QRC at Lewis St, San Fernando;
Trinity College (Moka) vs Pleasantville at Moka;
Fyzabad Secondary vs San Juan North at Fyzabad;
Signal Hill vs Fatima College at Signal Hill;
St Anthony’s College vs St Benedict’s College at St Anthony’s;
Presentation (San F’do) are on a Bye.
SSFL Premier Division standings
(Tabulated as Played-Won-Drew-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)
Shiva Boys HC 11-9-1-1-25-9-28
Presentation SF 12-8-2-2-20-10-26
St Anthony’s 11-7-1-3-30-17-22
St Mary’s 12-5-5-2-14-13-20
St Augustine 12-4-5-3-11-11-17
Signal Hill 11-4-2-5-13-12-14
Fyzabad Sec 11-4-2-5-20-20-14
East Mucurapo 11-3-3-5-12-14-12
Trinity Moka 11-3-3-5-6-17-12
San Juan North 11-3-2-6-16-16-11
Fatima College 11-2-3-6-13-20-9
St Benedict’s 11-0-3-8-4–21-3