Naparima College star Judah St Louis stamped his authority on the grand southern SSFL Premier Division derby today by scoring two delightful free kicks against arch-rivals Presentation College (San Fernando) in a tense 2-1 victory.
This result, coupled with Naparima’s successful protest against Shiva Boys’ use of Kierron Mason in their opening day 2-1 loss, meant that the boys from Lewis Street now sit on 13 points, alongside Presentation and Shiva Boys, who were held to a goalless draw by San Juan North at Bourg Mulatresse.
It’s early days yet but today’s results signal a dramatic shift in the title race after Shiva Boys had been runaway leaders in the opening rounds. That’s not unusual for the SSFL, which has often been about football drama.
So anyone who needed a reminder about the magic the Schools’ League offers should have gone to the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium for today’s treat. Spurts of sheer quality, blood-and-thunder tackles and an atmosphere fit for football’s finest ensured that the mood at Mannie Ramjohn brought back memories of “the ole time days.”
The hundreds of supporters that flooded the stands had barely had time to take their seats before the goodies started, Presentation stealing the lead within the first minute of action.
From the kick-off, Naparima had Presentation on the backfoot, with Eve imploring his team to press their opponents while Shawn Cooper in the opposing dugout remained stoic—almost as if he knew what was to come.
Following a long clearance up the field, Ackeel Jacob, who started up front in place of suspended top-scorer Omri Baird, was adjudged to have been fouled in the box and talisman Jordan Riley confidently buried the resulting spot kick.
Less than three minutes later, with their fans in full voice, “Naps” pressed hard in response and won a free kick just outside the penalty area. Up stepped set piece specialist St Louis, who curled home a brilliant free kick that left “Pres” custodian and captain Jabari Gray stranded.
Less than five minutes were on the clock, the Mannie Ramjohn already had two goals in the bag and flags and powder galore filling the air. Football fans could hardly ask for more; they got it anyway.
The teams continued to trade punches throughout the first half, with each goalkeeper tested regularly. But this was St Louis’ platform and he wasn’t about to be upstaged—at least not for too long.
Presentation central defender Matthew Joseph’s attempt at a clearance was muffed, yielding another free kick at the edge of the box. As St Louis stood ominously over the ball, steel in his gaze, the Pres supporters hung their heads, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.
They got their collective wish as, when St Louis aimed for the near post, the Pres captain proved equal to the task, clawing the ball away and bringing a huge sigh of relief from his school’s faithful.
But you can’t keep a good man down. And St Louis, there’s no disputing, is a good man.
In the 38th minute, clever footwork from Declan Marcelle earned Naps a free kick in almost the exact spot from which the first goal had come.
Rashawn Murphy, playing in the middle of the park in this encounter, pleaded loudly with St Louis to make this one count. He too got his wish. St Louis ran over, carefully placed the ball, looked up and once more arrowed the free kick beyond a flailing Gray.
That made it three goals from free kicks in the past two matches and the unrestrained Naps celebrations erupted, more plumes of powder celebrating their skilful champion.
Head coach Angus Eve was equally happy with his dead ball ace’s match winners.
“Any opportunity is an opportunity to score or to win the game,” he told Wired868 in a post-match interview. “When he gets a free kick, with these type of players who have the ability and the talent to hit the dead ball as Judah does, it’s always a weapon in your armoury.
“He came across to me because he knows that we work on it in training. I don’t leave anything to chance.”
In the second half, with the covered stands overflowing with rival supporters, Cooper’s young team sought to optimise their own goal scoring opportunities and find a way back into the match.
Almost immediately after the resumption, Jacob bamboozled the Naparima defenders by brilliantly dummying a cross. The ball fell perfectly onto the boot of the advancing Jayie Sheppard.
Had Sheppard’s first touch been better, Pres would almost certainly have drawn level. In the event, he allowed Tyrique Andrews time enough to manoeuvre his imposing frame into position to shuttle him off the ball and put it out of harm’s way. Andrews had saved his team at the last moment—and it would not be the last time he was called upon to do so on the day.
Fairly anonymous after his first-minute penalty, Riley seemed like a player reborn in the second half. He repeatedly tormented Naparima left-back Frontin, whipping in cross after dangerous cross which, unfortunately for Pres, all yielded no fruit.
The slew of missed opportunities seemed to heighten tensions between the supporters of both teams. Just after the hour mark, the game was halted as coaches Cooper and Eve turned their attention to the stands, making separate pleas to both groups to maintain order and stop hurling objects.
The interventions had the desired effect and, that brief commotion out of the way, the football once again took centre-stage, with Presentation pushing for an equaliser.
For Naps, it was backs-against-the-wall defending, captain Rondell Payne and Andrews holding the door firmly shut against Riley, whose rampaging wing play consistently threatened to blow it down.
An animated Eve stood on the sidelines, showering praise on every player who contrived to make a critical intervention, block or tackle.
In the end, while Presentation sought to dry the tears of a second successive southern derby loss, Eve took the opportunity to comment on the reactions to Naparima’s successful protest.
“Unfortunately we are a society that likes corruption,” Eve told Wired868. “This (situation) is not against Kierron Mason; he didn’t do anything wrong.
“The young man, turned up to play for a school. The school had criteria to meet for him to play and, unfortunately, they didn’t follow all of the rules. That means that they broke the rules!”
Eve further went on to note that the school and not the football coach had made the decision to lodge an official protest.
“I am not an advocate of protesting games,” Eve explained. “This is a school’s decision and I understand that I work for the school. Whatever decision is made on behalf of the school, I have to stand the consequences of those actions.
“Now as (Hayden) Ryan rightly said, I don’t get involved in registering children or anything of the sort. My job for the school is to coach the school. I do not recruit players; I only coach the boys that are in the school. I must take students that are in the school.”
And responding to continuing public criticism of the institution as far as football players are concerned, Eve pleaded the school’s case by pointing out that their star duo, SSFL 2016 top scorer Isaiah Lee and W Connection and former National U-17 and U-20 attacker Isaiah Hudson, currently attend the college but have not kicked a ball in Naps’ colours this season.
“Isaiah (Lee) still getting schooling but he can’t play football,” said Eve. “The rule is, if you going Upper Six to play football, you must get four passes but he got three passes so he cannot play. He is doing school and hopefully he will get a scholarship to leave in January.”
He continued: “We also have Isaiah Hudson. He is going to Naparima, he is going to school but nobody forces him to play Colleges’ League. One of the best players in the country and none of us are forcing him to play Colleges’ League.
“But if people are going on social media to argue against the right thing, then that is the direction that our society is taking. We are one of the most corrupt countries in the world and it’s about time that we do the right thing.
“It’s unfortunate that Shiva had to lose the game in that manner,” Eve ended, “but the right thing must be the right thing!”
If yuh playing mas, the coach seemed to be saying to his detractors, on the field or off it, yuh really cyar fraid powder.
Presentation (4-2-3-1); 22.Jabari Gray (C); 16.Mylz Barrington, 3.Juaval Roberts, 21.Matthew Joseph, 17.Omari Cobham; 8.Terrell Williams (11.Nathaniel Dyer) 12.Jerrin Jackie; 10.Jordan Riley, 6.Ackeel Jacob (20.Shakeem Julien), 27.Darnell Hospedales; 9. Jaiye Sheppard.
Unused Substitutions: 1.Ishmael Salaam, 15.Aleem Barclay, 5.Justin Cornwall, 18.Jaden Joseph, 13. Zion Allen.
Coach: Shawn Cooper
Naparima (4-2-3-1): 1.Levi Fernandez (GK); 15.Shadeon Arthur, 5.Rondell Payne (C),2.Tyrique Andrews, 8.Kodel Frontin; 9. Rushawn Murphy, 13.Jeron Pantor; 16.Decklan Marcelle (20.Kareem Blake Williams), 6.Judah St Louis (17. Shoaib Khan) 18.Ronaldo Mc Intosh (19.Andre Raymond); 7.Isa Bramble.
Unused Substitutions: 30.Enrique Changiah, 4.Asukile Christopher, 14.Ezekiel Kesar, 23.Kern Cedeno.
Coach: Angus Eve
Wired868 Man-of-the-Match: Judah St Louis
SSFL Premier Division results
(Wednesday 27 September)
Presentation College 1 (Jordan Riley 2 pen), Naparima College 2 (Judah St Louis 4, 38) at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
San Juan North 0, Shiva Boys HC 0 at Bourg Mulatresse.
St Benedict’s College 1 (Kyjlan Sampson), Signal Hill 2 (Akiel Holdford 18, Akil Frank 46) at Barrackpore;
Fatima College 1 (Stephon Marcano 50), Trinity Moka 0 at Fatima;
St Mary’s College 1 (Michelle Poon-Angeron 30), Carapichaima East 3 (Josiah King 35, Daniel Pascall 43, Elijah King 83) at St Mary’s;
Trinity East 3 (Nickel Orr 69, Kaley Kiel 78, Sergio Bustamante 86), QRC 1 (Tishad Selvon 66) at Trincity;
St Anthony’s College 8 (Tyrese Bailey 15, 29, 38 pen, 65, Che Benny 12, Haile Beckles 47, Jodel Brown 79, 82), Speyside High 0 at Westmoorings;
St Augustine Secondary 3 (Akeem Hosten, Alan Hogan, Anthony Samuel), Fyzabad Secondary 1 (Sharkeel Louison 47) at St Augustine.
(Saturday 30 September)
QRC v St Anthony’s College, 3.40pm, QRC;
Fatima College v Shiva Boys HC, 3.40pm, Fatima;
Carapichaima East v St Benedict’s College, 3.40pm, Carapichaima;
Trinity Moka v Trinity East, 3.40pm, Moka;
Naparima College v St Mary’s College, 3.40pm, Lewis Street;
Fyzabad Secondary v Presentation College, 3.40pm, Fyzabad;
St Augustine Secondary v Speyside High, 3.40pm, St Augustine;
Signal Hill v San Juan North, 3.40pm, Signal Hill.
(Played-Won-Drew-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)
- Shiva Boys HC 6-4-1-1-14-4–13
- Presentation 6-4-1-1-14-6-13
- Naparima 6-4-1-1-13-7-13
- Fatima 6-4-0-2-6-4–12
- St Anthony’s 5-3-1-1-16-6-10
- Trinity East 6-3-1-2-11-6-10
- St Augustine 5-3-1-1-11-7-10
- Carapichaima E 6-3-1-2-10-8-10
- Fyzabad Sec 5-3-0-2-7-7-9
- San Juan N 6-1-5-0-13-6-8
- St Mary’s 5-1-2-2-9-13-5
- Signal Hill 6-1-1-4-5-10-4
- QRC 6-1-1-4-5-13-4
- Trinity Moka 6-1-0-5-4-17-3
- Speyside High 6-1-0-5-3–19–3
- St Benedict’s 6-0-2-4-6-14-2