Speyside High Secondary picked up their second victory of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division this evening, as they snuck past the wasteful Malick Secondary 2-1 at St Mary’s College Ground in St Clair.
The win saw Speyside join Malick on six points—along with Arima North Secondary, Queen’s Royal College, St Anthony’s College and East Mucurapo Secondary.
There is already a widening gap at the top though, with Naparima College, Fatima College and San Juan North Secondary all nursing 100 percent records, with 12 points in the kitty.
It was another lopsided result for Naparima, as they put seven goals past East Mucurapo without reply while Fatima whipped table proppers Pleasantville Secondary 5-0 and San Juan edged QRC 2-1.
In today’s other two fixtures, defending champions St Benedict’s College had to settle for a 1-1 draw with newly promoted Arima North while St Anthony’s picked up a second straight win as they eased past St Mary’s College 3-0 in the “Battle of the Saints”.
At the St Mary’s Ground on Serpentine Road, Malick had temporary ownership of the venue and started well—as versatile attacker Oba Samuel opened the scoring with a rocket from outside the penalty box in the seventh minute.
A punt upfield by Malick player Josante Duncan bounced over a mistimed jump from Speyside centre-back Nkosi Quashie to Samuel. Quashie recovered his ground only to be put on the floor again by a sleek move from Samuel, before the attacker beat talented Speyside goalkeeper Makaya Taylor with a shot from outside the box.
Quashie redeemed himself midway through the first half, as he coolly slotted a penalty past Malick custodian Omarion Worrel after defender Keston Singh fouled nifty Speyside attacker Omar Daniel.
And, although Malick were the more dominant side in the scrappy affair, the teams were level at the interval.
The Speyside Secondary outfit, which made an exhausting day-long trip from east Tobago, were generally conservative in their approach—as they sat off and invited pressure from Malick. It was a strategy that nearly didn’t pay off, but ultimately did.
Malick ought to have sealed the win with a penalty of their own in the 83rd minute, after a foul on attacker J’lon Matthews. But captain and central defender Ackeem James skied his effort overbar.
A draw would have undoubtedly felt like two points dropped for Malick coach Anthony Bartholomew. Yet his day got even worse.
In stoppage time, after a barrage of Malick attacks, Speyside got an unlikely winner via a free kick, which ricocheted off a Malick defender’s shin to trickle past Worrel.
“There is certainly lots of room for improvement,” said Speyside team manager Kristal Griffith said. “But this is also a platform to grow.”
Malick head coach Anthony Bartholomew was at a loss for words.
“I really don’t know, nah,” said Bartholomew, with a sigh. “Apart from the poor calls, we had our own penalty to win it [but] the ball almost gone in the river… We had chance after chance…”
Malick face league leaders Naparima College next at Lewis Street, San Fernando on Wednesday. And Bartholomew, who said many of his complacent players ended the match in tears, hopes the Speyside defeat serves as a wake-up call.
“Maybe we needed this loss […] to come down to earth,” said Bartholomew, who crowed about the calibre of his squad. “My subs are as good as the starting players. None [of the starters] are safe [from being demoted to the bench].”
Malick are fifth at present but trail leaders Naparima by six points. Wednesday represents a great opportunity to show off their strength in depth.
For Speyside, who trail Malick only by goal difference, another stern test awaits in mid-week as they host fourth-placed Presentation College (San Fernando).
Malick Secondary: 33.Omarion Worrel (GK); 4.Ackeem James (captain), 5.Epifany Halls, 6.Malachi Woodley, 7.Ronaldinho Richards, 8.Josante Duncan (16.Keiron Hinds 85), 10.J’Lon Matthews, 11.Jordan Ferdinand, 12.Daquan Thomas, 17.Oba Samuel, 18.Keston Singh.
Unused substitutes: 9.Zachery Joseph, 14.Keston Richards, 20.Tyrese Manswell.
Coach: Anthony Bartholomew
Speyside Secondary (4-2-3-1): 1.Makaya Taylor (GK); 19.Nickel Williams, 2.Kaylon Baptiste (captain), 5.Nkosi Quashie, 10.Lenox Eastman; 18.Justin Clarke, 4.Milz Johnson; 8.Omar Daniel, 23.Tre Campbell (20.Daishawn Bradshaw 57), 9.Riquelme Phillips (17.Ajani Stewart 67); 25.Shyon George.
Unused substitutes: 3.Orlando Jack, 11.Nabarnie Alleyne, 12.Jaydon Wilson, 13.Isaiah Mundy.
Coach: Ako George
Referee: Nikolai Nyron
SSFL Premier Division results
(Saturday 23 September)
Malick Secondary 1 (Oba Samuel 7), Speyside High 2 (Nkosi Quashie 24, own goal 90+1) at Serpentine Road;
QRC 1, San Juan North 2 (Jaheem Danclar, Lindell Sween) at QRC Ground;
St Benedict’s College 1 (Ethan Trotman 21), Arima North 1 (Tony Figuera 89);
St Anthony’s College 3 (Andell Fraser , Theo Cravador), St Mary’s College 0 at Westmoorings;
Fatima College 5 (Aidan De Gannes , Jonathan Mason , Christian Bailey), Pleasantville Secondary 0 at Fatima Ground;
Chaguanas North 0, Presentation (San F’do) 3 (own goal, Vaughn Clement ) at Edinburgh 500, 4pm;
East Mucurapo 0, Naparima College 7 (Akiel Vesprey 27, 51, OG 38, Jabari Forbes 52, Tevin Pantor 62, Xarion France 79, Nathaniel O’Garro 90) at Moka.
2023 SSFL Premier Division
(Wednesday 27 September)
Arima North vs San Juan North, Arima Velodrome, 3.30pm;
Speyside High vs Presentation (San F’do), Speyside Recreation Ground, 3.30pm;
Fatima College vs St Benedict’s College, Fatima Ground, 4pm;
Chaguanas North vs St Anthony’s College, Edinburgh 500, 4pm;
Naparima College vs Malick Secondary, Lewis Street, 4pm;
Pleasantville Secondary vs Trinity East, Yolande Pompey Recreation Ground, 4pm;
QRC vs Bishop’s High, QRC Ground, 4pm;
St Mary’s College vs East Mucurapo, Serpentine Road, 4pm.