Fatima College capitalised on defeats to the top two teams entering Round Six of the 2023 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division on Saturday, Naparima College and San Juan North Secondary, to jump two spots to first in the 16-team standings.
Fatima, Naparima and San Juan were the remaining unbeaten teams after the fifth round.
However, Naparima suffered a shock 1-0 loss away to hosts Arima North Secondary at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) O’Meara campus ground and Fatima grabbed three goals in the closing 10 minutes of play to sink San Juan 5-2 at Bourg Mulatresse, San Juan.
Presentation College (San Fernando) climbed one place to fourth after whipping Bishop’s High School 4-0 at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, while East Mucurapo Secondary cruised past the struggling Chaguanas North Secondary 3-0 at the Fatima Ground, Mucurapo.
Speyside High School registered a 3-1 victory over cellar-placed Pleasantville Secondary at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium Training Field, Trinity College East edged Malick Secondary 2-1 at Trincity and St Benedict’s College defeated St Anthony’s College 1-0 at the Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin.
The most shocking result of the day arguably occurred at the St Mary’s Ground in St Clair. In local schools’ football’s oldest rivalry, St Mary’s College, spurred on by a hat-trick from skipper Kyle Phillip, rallied from a 3-0 deficit to get past Queen’s Royal College (QRC) 4-3.
Stephon James’ hat-trick seemed to have the game sewn up for the Royalians, after 56 minutes, but a couple substitutions by St Mary’s coach Michael Grayson, saw a massive change in momentum, which the visitors were unable to combat.
Earlier, sustained pressure by QRC paid dividends after 19 minutes, when James, operating on the left flank, profited from a poor defensive effort by St Mary’s right-back Micah Hernandez to slot a right-footed shot past opposing goalkeeper Jabari Doyle.
James netted his second, goal nine minutes later, with a well-placed right-footed shot to the left of Doyle.
St Mary’s had a couple chances to reduce the deficit in the first half, courtesy Elijah Wong and Ryan Radellant. But James completed his treble 11 minutes into the second half, after getting around Doyle and guiding the ball into the open net.
Grayson, a former QRC stand-out player, responded by replacing ineffective defensive midfielder Ryan Aguilera-Nunes with Eran McLeod in the 61st minute while Jaeden Bobb came on for Wong on the right wing. Those changes turned the tide firmly in St Mary’s favour.
By the time Bobb came on, the scoreline read 3-1—after Phillip converted a penalty, despite the fingertips of QRC goalie Shemuel Cassimy.
In the 76th minute, Bobb made a dart down the right flank and picked out Phillip. The “Saints” captain was unable to connect with his effort, but Radellant pounced on the loose ball to finish from close range.
In fading light, Phillip scored the game-levelling goal in the 83rd minute, after collecting an aerial ball from Radellant with his chest before guiding beyond Cassimy’s reach.
The reversal was completed six minutes later when Cassimy misjudged his leap, while rushing to gather a long ball, and left Phillip with the simple task of tapping into a vacant net.
There was one blemish for St Mary’s in stoppage time, as Phillip was sent off by referee Nickolai Nyron, for a second bookable offence.
Grayson later described the contest as a “game of two halves”.
“If you had asked me at half-time, I would not [have] believed we would have won this game—especially when they went up 3-0,” said Grayson, a veteran coach who also led Arima, St Augustine Secondary and Trinity East. “We scored four goals in the second half, which is unbelievable, for this team. This is tremendous.”
Grayson pointed to Bobb’s inclusion as the catalyst.
“We have him on-and-off since last year,” he said. “We [have] a physiotherapist to see about him. He has a far way to go.”
QRC coach Kenwyne Jones declined to comment on the match, which saw his team suffer a fourth defeat this season.
St Mary’s College (4-3-3): 1.Jabali Doyle (GK); 13.Micah Hernandez (3.Joshua Chalerie 46), 15.Kristian James, 4.Marley Callender, 18.Jelani Ottley; 16.Alejandro Harper (20.Dusan Cooper 34), 6.Raul Aguilera-Nunes (19.Eran McLeod 61st), 9.Aadil Abdul-Hakeem; 10.Kyle Phillip (captain), 14.Elijah Wong (5.Jaeden Bobb 71), 7.Ryan Radellant.
Unused substitutes: 88.Tyrese Henry (GK), 99.Kristoff Marcus, 8.Nathan Young, 21.Joshua Miguel, 11.Jace Callender, 17.Jeremiah Steele.
Coach: Michael Grayson
Queen’s Royal College (4-3-3): 1.Shemuel Cassimy (GK); 15.Philip Gray, 12.Michai Grandison, 5.Zakari King, 13.Kaylon Tuckett (20.Jkwan Debique 80); 25.Teshaun Franklyn (18.Roshaun Doobay 80), 6.Tau Lamsee, 8.Aydon Caruth (captain); 23.Phillip Nelson (26.Jsai Theophilus 83), 9.Musaddiq Mohammed (14.Ronaldinho James 87), 19.Stephon James (3.Gervais Frederick 83).
Unused substitutes: 22.Jaheim Affan (GK), 4.Shea Dolly.
Coach: Kenwyne Jones
Referee: Nikolai Nyron
SSFL Premier Division results
(Saturday 30 September)
Trinity East 2 (Jeremiah Frank-Williams, Joshua Figaro), Malick Secondary 1 (Tyrese Manswell) at Trincity;
St Mary’s College 4 (Kyle Phillip 69 pen, 83, 89, Ryan Radellant 76), QRC 3 (Stephon James 19, 28, 56) at Serpentine Road;
St Benedict’s College 1 (Josiah Ochoa), St Anthony’s College 0 at Mahaica Oval;
San Juan North 2 (Lindell Sween 23, Nathan Quashie 45), Fatima College 5 (Jaheem Danclar OG 26, Aidan De Gannes 33, Jonathan Mason 87, 90+1, Michael Chaves 90+7) at Bourg Mulatresse;
Arima North 1 (Stephano Christopher 13), Naparima College 0 at UTT, O’Meara;
East Mucurapo 3 (Jadon McShine, Clint Lutchman, Malachi Henry), Chaguanas North 0 at Fatima Ground;
Pleasantville Secondary 1 (Kelon Williams), Speyside High 3 (Lenox Eastman, Riquelme Phillips, Nkosi Quashie) at Manny Ramjohn Stadium training field;
Presentation (San F’do) 4 (Vaughn Clement , Adah Barclay ), Bishop’s High 0 at Manny Ramjohn Stadium.
2023 SSFL Premier Division
(Wednesday 4 October)
Naparima College vs St Benedict’s College, Lewis Street, 3.30pm;
Speyside High vs East Mucurapo, Speyside Recreation Ground, 3.30pm;
Bishop’s High vs St Mary’s College, Plymouth Recreation Ground, 3.30pm;
Fatima College vs Presentation (San F’do), Fatima Ground, 4pm;
Malick Secondary vs Arima North, Serpentine Road, 4pm;
QRC vs Chaguanas North, QRC Ground, 4pm;
San Juan North vs Trinity East, Bourg Mulatresse, 4pm;
St Anthony’s College vs Pleasantville Secondary, Westmoorings, 4pm.