A 58th minute free kick by Queen’s Royal College midfielder John-Paul Rochford dashed any lingering San Juan North Secondary hopes of lifting the 2015 SSFL Premier Division title.
The boys from Bourg Mulatresse wasted a host of chances at the QRC grounds today, and Rochford—the younger brother of 2009 Under-20 World Cup midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford—made coach Jerry Moe’s youngsters pay.
“I think today we didn’t play well individually or collectively,” Moe told Wired868. “But having said that I think we had enough chances to win the game.
“We come right back down to the same problem that if Brent Sam doesn’t score nobody else wants to score.”
San Juan’s star striker, Brent Sam, could have scored as many as five goals today but could not get his angles right. He twice left QRC defenders on their backsides with some silky skill in the penalty area but could not produce finishing touches to match.
And QRC goalkeeper Jadel Poon-Lewis also stopped Sam in the 41st minute—albeit inadvertently—after the giant attacker treated the crowd to a flurry of stopovers and a fierce right-footed drive.
“It’s difficult to win a championship with one goal scorer alone,” said Moe.
If San Juan’s tactic was ‘feed Brent Sam and he will score’, then QRC’s was ‘feed John-Paul and he will create.’
The tiny QRC midfielder feasted on service out on the left flank during the first half, with the ball stuck to his feet like a magnet, and often left San Juan defenders Warren Chase and Kerdell Sween chasing his shadow or retreating to the penalty area at full pelt.
Chase was on the receiving end of a Rochford spanner in the 12th minute but neither Joash Williams nor Demetri Dunkley could finish the move, as the slick-passing Royalians looked as though they wanted to stroke the ball into San Juan custodian D’Andre Villoroel’s goal.
The Bourg boys were more direct and did create chances too. San Juan’s right sided midfielder, Joshua Leach, had two opportunities within 60 seconds of each other.
First, Leach latched on to a generous QRC clearance in the 33rd minute but screwed his effort wide. And, seconds later, he ran on to a precise Jerome Cyrus through ball but his finishing was left wanting once again.
The Royalians seemed to be taking unnecessary risks as Poon-Lewis and his defenders passed the ball across their backline on an increasingly sluggish outfield. But their sense of adventure paid off in the 58th minute, as the tricky Rochford won a free kick, dusted himself off and whipped a low, right-footed effort past Villoroel’s vain dive.
The QRC students and musical band went into an uproar on the school’s west wing as their “Little Gem” put them ahead.
Midfielder Janos Lashley nearly sent the QRC faithful into further frenzy in the 76th minute, after working a delightful one-two with fellow midfielder Keyshawn Villafana at the edge of the area but his shot was easily dealt with by Villoroel.
Sam usually thrives on the left-footed services of teammate Brandon Semper and the duo linked up, two minutes later, only for Sam to glance his header agonisingly wide of Poon-Lewis’ goal.
And San Juan’s fate was confirmed in the third minute of stoppage time as Sam cleverly played in Chase, just inside the QRC box, only for the player to miss a gaping goal.
“It’s for the players to have the confidence,” said Moe, “because when they train they don’t have anyone watching them so they put away the goals. But when the game comes and the spotlight is on, maybe it’s more a mental issue.”
With just two rounds of SSFL Premier Division action remaining, Naparima College look odds-on favourites to recapture their crown with second placed Presentation College (San Fernando), the only team that can reasonably expect to catch them, now five points adrift.
QRC (4-1-2-3): 1.Jadel Poon Lewis (GK) (captain); 16.Mickel Walkes, 5.Tevin Lessey, 4.Anfernee Stokes 2.Tshad Selvon; 18.Adrian Constantine; 3.Janos Lashley (10.Jahrique Stewart 79), 6.Keyshawn Villafana; 13.Demetri Dunkley (9.Shemar De Gannes 64), 7.Joash Williams, 15.John Paul Rochford.
Coach: Dexter Gill
San Juan North (4-4-1-1): 1.D’Andre Villoroel (GK) (captain); 12.Warren Chase, 3.Kerdell Sween, 4.Kenyan Huggins, 17.Kareem John; 19.Joshua Leach, 29.Lukman Brooks, 5.Rhondel Gibson, 6.Brandon Semper (26.Tigana O’Brien 83); 20.Jerome Cyrus (28.Chike Ahing 72); 9.Brent Sam.
Unused Substitutes: 7.Oneel Jarvis, 11.Joshua Jerome, 15.Myles Oliver, 24.Obadelle Dickson, 27.Mazi Lewis.
Coach: Jerry Moe
Referee: Andre McCarthy
Man of the match: John Paul Rochford (QRC)
SSFL Premier Division
(Wednesday October 21)
St. Augustine 3, Fatima College 0, St. Augustine;
QRC 1 (John Paul Rochford 58), San Juan North 0, QRC;
Carapichaima 0, Naparima College 2, Carapichaima;
Presentation San F’do 2, Trinity College Moka 1, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Fyzabad Secondary 2, Trinity College East 1, Fyzabad;
Shiva Boys HC 2, St Benedict’s College 2, Penal;
Speyside High 2, St Anthony’s College 1, Speyside.
SSFL Premier Division Standings (Played-Won-Drew-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)
Naparima College 12-9-2-1-24-6-29
Presentation S/Fdo 12-7-3-2-21-14-24
Shiva Boys HC 12-6-5-1-18-10-23
St Benedict’s 12-6-4-2-16-12-22
San Juan North 13-7-0-6-20-15-21
St Anthony’s 12-6-3-3-20-18-21
St Augustine Sec 12-6-2-4-21-16-20
St Mary’s College 12-6-1-5-22-14-19
Fyzabad Sec 12-4-1-7-14-20-13
Trinity Moka 12-2-5-5-20-23-11
Speyside High 12-3-1-8-14-30-10
Carapichaima E 13-1-5-7-9-21-8
Fatima College 12-1-4-7-14-23-7
Trinity East 12-1-0-11-11-30-3