Leadership changed hands today in the SSFL’s Premier Division as a 1-0 loss for St Anthony’s College away to St Mary’s College meant that, for the first time this season, the “Westmoorings Tigers” are not the number one football school in the country.
At present, that distinction goes to Naparima College as the southern outfit defeated Fatima College 2-0 at Lewis Street, San Fernando to move one point clear of St Anthony’s at the top of the Premier Division.
San Juan North Secondary, Trinity College East and St Benedict’s College, who all won today, are tied on 18 points with the former school ahead on a superior goal difference.
San Juan captain Brent Sam led from the front again with a hattrick at Bourg Mulattrasse as the boys in green shot down Presentation College (San Fernando) 4-1 to move to within a point of the leaders.
At Serpentine Road, there was no such individual standout; but St Mary’s got the job done as the hosts ground out a result that keeps them within striking distance of the top of the table with 15 points.
The Port-of-Spain school was without the injured quartet of attackers Jamiel Williams and Sebastien Cabral, midfielder Nathan Harte and goalkeeper Kristopher Donaldson while playmaker Aaron Noel had a knee brace, midfielder Ethan Shim played with an ankle knock and netting to cover six stitches on his head and defender Rickel Dixon used a protective mask to guard a hairline fracture of his cheek bone.
Have St Mary’s players been sneaking off to Brad Pitt’s “Fight Club?”
As for the Tigers, today’s fixture was their third game in five days—due to a rescheduled clash against San Juan on Monday—while winger Adriel Kerr was out with a fever and defender Isaiah McIntyre and attacker Darius Olliviera returned to the squad after bouts with Chikungunya.
And, added to their physical setbacks, both schools had lost their last two outings.
So who had the advantage in the “Battle of the Saints” at Serpentine Road?
The team with more life in its legs and fire in the belly; and that proved to be the boys in blue and white stripes.
Twice, St Mary’s custodian Joshua Da Silva kept his schoolmates in the game with vital saves from St Anthony’s full back Simon Joseph and playmaker Matthew Woo Ling inside the first 20 minutes before, five minutes from the interval, the home team finally located the visiting goal.
In the 40th minute, St Mary’s playmaker Aaron Noel swivelled and spanked an effort off the bar from the edge of the penalty area after teammate Aaron Skeene had poked the ball into his direction against the run of play.
And three minutes later, as the tired Tigers probably yearned for a return to their dressing room, the home team made the breakthrough.
There did not seem to be much on when St Mary’s captain Marcus Mottley lofted a ball forward to Shim. But the opposing defence backed off and Shim took full advantage as he exchanged passes with attacker Chinua Bernard and rode a half-hearted challenge from St Anthony’s captain Mawasi Charles before firing low into the right corner.
St Anthony’s, who, surprisingly, made just one second half substitution, could not find an answer.
Not for the first time, Woo Ling disappeared between a crowd of midfield guards. While lively and prolific striker Kwesi “Jep” Allen did not bring his shooting boots to the St Clair ground and Olliviera, who came on as a substitute, was rusty.
Twice, Noel almost rubbed salt in their wounds as he wriggled past an opponent or two to create presentable opportunities. But neither Shim nor Mottley could take the chance.
Before kick off, there was an interesting stand off as St Mary’s refused to accept Larry Lalchan as match referee. The home team claimed to have written the SSFL executive and insisted Lalchan should not be appointed for its games on the grounds of supposed bias due to the school of his son.
A compromise was made and referee’s assistant Kern De Souza swapped places with the official, who ran the line instead.
That decision might have ran across the minds of the technical staff from either team when, in extra time, Joseph stretched for the ball at the edge of the area and was clattered by St Mary’s defender Siddiq Manzano.
De Souza ruled that Joseph had impeded Manzano in the latter’s attempt to clear the ball rather than giving the benefit of the doubt to the attacking player.
Perhaps he was right; perhaps not. It was a hairline call.
At the side of the field, a female St Anthony’s fan threw her hands up in the air in disgust. Her tee-shirt read: “Why always us Tigers?”
After three straight defeats, the luckless Tigers desperately need a win when they host Fatima College on Saturday. But Naparima College is in charge now.
The winds of change seem to be blowing.
St Mary’s College (4-2-3-1): 16.Joshua Da Silva (GK); 2.Marcus Mottley (captain), 5.Rickel Dixon, 4.Jerome Dempster-Babb, 12.Siddiq Manzano; 13.Xavier Bruce, 19.Jeam Marc De Souza (80.Howard Sabga 83); 8.Ethan Shim, 15.Aaron Skeene, 10.Aaron Noel (18.Bryant Van Low 90); 9.Chinua Bernard.
Unused substitutes: 25.Kristopher Donaldson (GK), 17.Antonio De Matas, 20.Tyler Kirton, 22.Joshua Joseph, 23.Justin Brooks.
Coach: Jason Edwards
St Anthony’s College (3-4-1-2): 22.Oba Augustin (GK); 15.Nicholas Moyou, 4.Isaiah McIntyre, 23.Mawasi Charles; 2.Jared Flament, 12.Matthaeus Granger (9.Darius Olliviera 49), 14.Matthew Woo Ling, 18.Simon Joseph; 25.Shakeem Patrick; 19.Andrew Rullow, 10.Kwesi Austin.
Unused substitutes: 1.Carlton Alfonso (GK), 5.Keston Herrera, 6.Leon Whyle, 8.Jules Lee, 17.Raheem Borde, 21.Brent Joel.
Coach: Nigel Grosvenor
SSFL Premier Division results
(Wed Oct 1)
St Mary’s College 1 (Ethan Shim 43), St Anthony’s College 0 at St Mary’s;
Naparima College 2 (Jabari Mitchell 27, Nicholas Dillon 72), Fatima College 0 at Lewis St, San F’do;
San Juan North 4 (Josiah Trimmingham 5, Brent Sam 10, 39, 43), Presentation (San F’do) 1 (Quintel John86) at San Juan;
St Augustine 1 (Anthony Samuel 56), Chaguanas North 1 (Malik Campbell 14) at St Augustine;
Shiva Boys HC 3 (Quinn Rodney 15, 61, Levi Garcia 70), East Mucurapo 1 (Tekay Hoyce 3) at Guaracara Park;
Arima North 1 (Joshua Alexander 24), Trinity College East 2 (Taje Commissiong 57, Sean Bonval 78) at Arima;
Carapichaima East 0, St Benedict’s College 2 (Judah St Louis 79, Anthony Herbert 85) at Carapichaima;
(Sat Oct 4)
Chaguanas North v Naparima College, 3.45 pm, Chaguanas;
St Anthony’s College v Fatima College, 3.45 pm, St Anthony’s;
St Benedict’s College v Shiva Boys HC, 3.45 pm, La Romaine;
Trinity College East v St Augustine, 3.45 pm, Trincity;
Presentation (San F’do) v St Mary’s, 3.45 pm, Guaracara Park;
East Mucurapo v San Juan North, 3.45 pm, Fatima;
Carapichaima East v Arima North, 3.45 pm, Carapichaima.