Sports and Games FC Santa Rosa pushed their lead atop the National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division to five points on Sunday, after they defeated Guaya United 2-1 at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
Santa Rosa’s victory, coupled with a slip-up by second-placed Defence Force, means that, with only three Premiership games remaining, the Keith Look Loy-coached team could seal the Premiership crown as early as Sunday 4 December—if results go in their favour.
Standing in Santa Rosa’s way are mid-table team, Matura ReUnited, but the “Big Cannons” have hurdled their share of obstacles this season.
In Macoya this weekend, Santa Rosa fell behind to a 39th minute item by Guaya’s Kendes Garcia. However, the host team showed their mettle once again as second half goals by Keston “Zico” Henry and Kevon Cornwall sealed a vital comeback win.
In Chaguaramas, the Army/Coast Guard combination weren’t as clinical, as they twice squandered leads to finish with a 2-2 draw against sixth-placed Siparia Spurs.
Defence Force trailed Santa Rosa by three points at kick off but it now looks like a herculean task for the defending champions to retain their Premiership crown. When the hosts went 2-1 up courtesy a strike from utility player Michael Edwards in the 80th minute, the Army players and staff must have thought the three points were in the bag. However, Siparia’s Darius Peters tore up the script with an 84th minute leveller that ensured a share of the spoils.
At the base of the table, there were wins for the bottom three clubs, Bethel United, Queen’s Park Cricket Club (QPCC) and Marabella Family Crisis Centre, as they all showed their desire to avoid relegation on home turf.
In Tobago, Bethel rode a double by National Beach footballer Kevon “Showtime” Woodley to turn back Petrotrin Palo Seco 3-1, while QPCC and Marabella notched 2-1 victories over Club Sando Moruga and Real Maracas respectively.
Incidentally, Real Maracas’ loss at cellar-placed Marabella could come back to haunt them, as they have now been drawn into the relegation battle.
The bottom two clubs in the 14-team Premiership will be relegated to the Championship Division and, at present, Real Maracas are in 11th spot with 25 points, Bethel are 12th with 23, while QPCC sit on 22 and Marabella bring up the rear with 17.
Marabella will hope to turn Guaracara Park into a fortress on Sunday 4 December, as they will host QPCC in a virtual must-win match. Yesterday in Pointe-à-Pierre, Kerville Jeremiah scored in the dying moments to help Marabella past Real Maracas, and his team will hope for more of the same against the “Parkites” in six days time.
Meanwhile, Bethel and Real Maracas—both of whom escaped relegation in a dramatic final day in the Premiership last season—will look to take big steps towards survival in their respective matches against WASA FC and Police.
The race to gain promotion to the Premiership from the Championship Division does not lack intrigue either.
The Championship’s top four teams, UTT (26 points), Cunupia FC (26 points), Central 500 Spartans (26 points) and Saddle Hill Hotspur (25 points), all stood a chance of getting the lone promotion spot before kick off on the weekend.
However, in a surprising turn of events, cellar-placed club Carenage United withdrew from the competition and the NSL administrators voided all of their second round matches.
“Carenage United [have] officially withdrawn from the [National Super League] Competition,” said All Sport representative, Richard Piper, via e-mail last Wednesday. “As such, in fairness to the other participating clubs, the League has made the decision to nullify the results of all Carenage’s games played or not played in Round #2 of the League Competition.”
Carenage had played six of their eight matches in round two and lost them all. Three of those defeats were to UTT, Saddle Hill Hotspur and Central 500 Spartans, who have all lost three points.
It means Cunupia FC, who were originally scheduled to play Carenage on Saturday 3 December, now stand alone at the top of the Championship standings with their points tally unaffected.
UTT, who led Cunupia on goal differential prior to Carenage’s withdrawal, raised a few concerns through their team manager Nicholas Lochan.
“We think any team withdrawing from the League after the first round, should not influence fixtures [at such a crucial and late stage] and remain in the League, with the standard three points and three goals [being] awarded to the other team,” said Lochan, via e-mail. “Last year, Malabar United had a similar predicament and remained in the League to the very end. Maybe an urgent League meeting/vote by clubs could decide the decision to either nullify results or keep current standings with points/goals awarded.”
Cunupia clinched a crucial 3-2 victory over third-placed Central 500 Spartans on Saturday, and as things stand, UTT—now with 23 points—are the only team which can match Cunupia’s point haul of 29 with just two matches remaining.
NSL Championship Division Results
(Saturday 26 November)
Youth Stars 4 (Keno Proctor 36, Hakeem Legall 40, 77, Ackeel Sterling 90), Barrackpore United 2 (Mikheil Peters 57, Renaldo Jack 90) at Cyd Gray Complex, Roxborough;
Central 500 Spartans 2 (Donovan Derrick 32, Keith Williams 68), Cunupia FC 3 (Michael Yaw Darko 23, Gorean Highley 41, Stevon Stoute 54) at Hugo Francis Recreation Ground;
NSL Premiership Division Results
(Sunday 27 November)
Bethel United 3 (Kevon Woodley 7, 68, Teejay Cadiz 49), Petrotrin Palo Seco 1 (Xavier Seales 66) at Mount Gomery Recreation Ground;
1976 FC Phoenix 1 (Shelton Williams 90), WASA FC 1 (Nathan Julien 85) at Canaan Recreation Ground;
Defence Force 2 (Akil Morris 38, Michael Edwards 80), Siparia Spurs 2 (Andy London 62, Darius Peters 84) at Defence Force Headquarters;
Police FC 0, Matura ReUnited 0 at St James Barracks;
Sports and Games FC Santa Rosa 2 (Keston Henry 58, Kevon Cornwall 69), Guaya United 1 (Kendes Garcia 39) at Marvin Lee Stadium;
QPCC 2 (Alex Knaggs 18, Chad De Freitas 83), Club Sando Moruga 1 (Jessie Edwards 90) at CIC Grounds, St Clair;
Marabella Family Crisis Centre 2 (Arvid Applewhite 21, Kerville Jeremiah 84), Real Maracas 1 (Kheelon Mitchell 44) at Guaracara Park;
Upcoming NSL Championship Division Fixtures
(Wednesday 30 November)
UTT vs Saddle Hill Hotspur, 6:30pm, UTT, O’Meara;
Barrackpore United SC vs Prisons FC, 6:30pm, Barrackpore Recreation Ground;
(Saturday 3 December)
Youth Stars vs UTT, 3:30pm, Cyd Gray Complex, Roxborough;
TT Prisons vs Central 500 Spartans, 3:30pm, YTC, Arouca;
Saddle Hill Hotspur vs Petit Valley/Diego Martin United, 3:30pm;
Barrackpore United SC are on a Bye.
Upcoming NSL Premiership Division Fixtures
(Sunday 4 December)
Guaya United vs Siparia Spurs, 4pm, New Lands Ground, Guayaguayare;
WASA FC vs Bethel United, 3:30pm, WASA St Joseph;
Club Sando Moruga vs 1976 FC Phoenix, 3:30pm, Grand Chemin Recreation Ground;
Real Maracas vs Police, 4pm, Maracas Valley Recreation Ground;
Matura ReUnited vs Sports and Games FC Santa Rosa, 3:30pm, Arima Velodrome;
Petrotrin Palo Seco vs Defence Force, 6pm, Palo Seco Velodrome;
Marabella Family Crisis Centre vs QPCC, 3:30pm, Guaracara Park.