Next week’s 2017 Coca Cola North Zone Intercol Final will be a rollicking “Battle of the Saints” as St Mary’s College and St Anthony’s College secured 2-1 victories over Fatima College and QRC respectively in semifinal action today.
At the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 20 November, the “Westmoorings Tigers” of St Anthony’s will get the chance to exact revenge for their defeat away to St Mary’s College on the final day of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division season.
Today, at St Mary’s home ground on Serpentine Road, the Tigers sharpened their chops with first-half goals from former National Under-17 midfielders Tyrese Bailey and Che Benny en route to their semifinal victory.
While St Anthony’s were roaring in St Clair, St Mary’s were working their way towards some revenge of their own at the Hasely Crawford venue. Fatima thoroughly humiliated St Mary’s 5-1 when the two teams met in the Premier Division last month. But today, St Mary’s skipper Gabriel Nanton’s late, deflected strike put an end to any lingering nightmares and misery.
Before Nanton’s 87th-minute strike, it looked for all the world as if the game would go to the dreaded penalty shootout. However, after putting his left boot through a loose ball just outside the area, the captain was able to beat his chest, confident that he will be leading his team at least to within reach of the Promised Land.
St Mary’s coach Ryan Shim insisted that their 5-1 loss to Fatima was already a distant memory at kick-off. And his focus now is on creating some new, positive memories.
“I think our chances are as good as any,” Shim told Wired868. “St Anthony’s are really the number one team in the North and they will be difficult to turn over, especially on a pitch like this…
“But we will try our best. Once we get our tactics right, I think we will be more than competitive.”
Fatima coach Wayne Sheppard lauded his team’s efforts during the 2017 season but regretted not being able to give his four senior players, including captain Joshua Araujo-Wilson, a better send-off.
“For the work that they put in, we at least wanted to get to the finals,” said Sheppard. “Disappointment is the overriding emotion right now.”
Sheppard was particularly disappointed in his team’s inability to test St Mary’s makeshift goalkeeper Justin Mohammed. Mohammed is the Saints’ back-up centre-forward but found himself on duty between the uprights in the crucial affair. Neither of Shim’s two regular custodians, Jordan Bidaissee and Regaleo Holder, was available owing to unspecified off-the-field issues.
The 17-year-old Mohammed, who played as goalie while in Form One, did not hesitate to accept the job when called upon. He looked understandably shaky whenever Fatima lofted a cross into the CIC 18-yard box—the first evidence came as early as the seventh minute when he completely mishandled a harmless Araujo-Wilson free kick.
But, in the end, Fatima were unable to capitalise on the stop-gap keeper’s weaknesses.
“We noticed he wasn’t the regular keeper and the game plan from kick-off was to apply pressure on him,” said Sheppard. “Unfortunately, my players [felt] it’s Manuel Neuer they are trying to score on [because] they [were constantly] looking for the perfect shot.”
St Mary’s seemed to have learned the lesson that if you don’t shoot, you don’t have a chance; it paid dividends at the death.
When a right-side Devon Charles cross squirted out awkwardly to him, Nanton kept his composure. With the help of a friendly deflection, his left-footed strike beat opposing goalkeeper Jacob Camacho.
The afternoon’s proceedings started off promisingly enough for the boys from Mucurapo Road, and Araujo-Wilson and National Under-15 attacker Jean-Heim McFee were causing the St Mary’s backline some problems with their movement. In the tenth minute, it required a brilliant saving tackle by burly defender Justin Gibbon to stop McFee in his tracks after the lanky attacker was played in by skipper Araujo-Wilson.
Fatima’s bright, early start paid dividends in the 25th minute when Araujo-Wilson neatly tucked a left-footed free kick into the top corner once teammate Andrew-Peter Abraham had wrong-footed Mohammed with a cheeky decoy run-up.
It was, on the day, the first time a team captain placed a left-footer into the old onion bag; it was not the last.
Although St Mary’s threatened to come to life with the running of attackers Trey La Motte and Tyrese Spicer on the break, Fatima looked a constant threat through the talented McFee, who was unlucky not to have doubled his team’s lead with the two stabs he took at goal in the 33rd minute.
At the end of a neat Fatima move, McFee hit the base of the post with a left-footer from just inside the area before having his right-footer off the rebound safely corralled by a relieved Mohammed.
Shim admitted to being a relieved man too. And the St Mary’s coach was happy to go into the break having conceded just the one goal.
“[Fatima] got into the game a lot quicker than we did,” Shim said. “And it’s only until the last ten to 15 minutes of the first half we started getting a little comfortable. And plus they scored a goal as well. We had to buckle down and work and work…”
In a 36th minute breakaway, Spicer showed he could do more than just buckle down, racing on to a lovely through-ball by midfielder Michel Poon-Angeron to beat an onrushing Camacho with a deft dink.
The nifty St Mary’s attacker tried to repeat the trick on the stroke of half-time after running on to a lobbed La Motte pass; however, the assistant referee flagged for a foul on defender Jaheim Aguilleria.
The second half saw a sluggish start from both teams although the off-the-field action added momentary suspense as the two sets of supporters squared off below the covered stands.
Fatima’s build-up play was decent but the absence of a quality final ball hampered their overall product. Meanwhile, St Mary’s looked comfortable using Spicer’s pace and guile on the counter. And soon enough, Spicer got company on the break in the form of the lanky Charles.
As Fatima’s legs seemingly tired, the Saints marched on and tried to exploit gaps left at the back, mounting raid after raid on their opponents’ goal in the final ten minutes.
Within a five-minute period, Camacho had to make two brave, point-blank saves to deny Spicer and the still fresh Charles.
The custodian’s 85th minute stop was especially impressive because he contrived to charge down a Charles shot after the substitute, picked out by a precise Nanton cross, had been left all alone in front of goal.
But when Charles turned supplier for Nanton two minutes later at the end of a determined run down the right, Camacho was helpless to stop the left-footed shot which cruelly settled at the back of the net after a ricochet.
“Truth be told, we should have put the game away in the first half of the game,” Sheppard said, pointing towards St Mary’s penalty area. “And we didn’t. But in the end, St Mary’s fought a little harder and got a bit more of the breaks.”
Raz-a-taz, raz-a-taz, hey cum bah! Mary’s, St Mary’s, rah, rah, rah!
Will the St Mary’s chant still be filling the air after Tuesday’s final? Or will coach Ronald Daniel’s Tigers silence them?
Only a very brave man would dare to say for certain at this stage.
St Mary’s College (4-4-1-1-): 9.Justin Mohammed (GK); 21.Justin Gibbon, 4.Schileon Phillip, 8.Matthaeus Granger, 12.Kevon Alonzo; 7.Terran Winner, 6.Justin Keith, 10.Michel Poon-Angeron (27.Devon Charles 77), 16.Tyrese Spicer; 11.Gabriel Nanton (captain); 19.Trey La Motte.
Unused Substitutes: 14.Elijah Bain Hares, 18.Kyle Carrington, 22.Augustine Nkemakolam, 25.Luke Savery, 26.Jed Rigsby, 29.Anil Pugh.
Coach: Ryan Shim
Fatima College (3-4-3): 1.Jacob Camacho (GK); 22.Jaheim Aguilleria, 8.Isaiah Lamont, 15.Elisha Taylor; 7.Stephon Marcano, 17.Luke Darwent (13.Zachary Welch 77), 10.Andrew-Peter Abraham, 14.Luke Boucaud; 4.Joshua Araujo-Wilson (captain) 9.Mikhail McComie (11.Justin Araujo-Wilson 56), 20.Jean-Heim McFee.
Unused Substitutes: 5.Jordan Romany, 12.Collin Wright, 35.Aaron Moruf, 37.Azharias Ali, 38.Jabari Dennis.
Coach: Wayne Sheppard
Referee: Glendon Superville
Wired868’s Man-of-the-Match: Tyrese Spicer (St Mary’s College)
Today’s Coca Cola Intercol results
(Thursday 16 November)
St Mary’s College 2 (Tyrese Spicer 36, Gabrial Nanton 87), Fatima College 1 (Joshua Araujo-Wilson 25) at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
QRC 1 (Kalev Keil), St Anthony’s College 2 (Tyrese Bailey, Che Benny) at St Mary’s Grounds.
San Juan North 3 (Renaldo Boyce , Brandon Semper pen), St Augustine Secondary 0 at Larry Gomes Stadium.
Valencia High 1 (Keegan Faria 31), Trinity College East 1 (Nickel Orr) at Larry Gomes Stadium;
*—Valencia win 5-4 on kicks from the penalty mark
Bishop’s High School 0, Signal Hill 1 (Akil Frank) at Roxborough;
Goodwood Secondary 0, Speyside High 2 (OG, Kerri McDonald) at Roxborough.
Upcoming Intercol fixtures
(Friday 17 November)
St Benedict’s College v Naparima College, 1.30pm, South semis, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Shiva Boys HC v Presentation (San F’do), 3.30pm, South semis, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
(Monday 20 November)
Carapichaima East v Chaguanas North, Central Zone finals, 4pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Tuesday 21 November)
St Mary’s College v St Anthony’s College, North Zone finals, 3.30pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Signal Hill Secondary v Speyside High, Tobago finals, TBA;
(Wednesday 22 November)
San Juan North v Valencia Secondary, 3.30pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
(Thursday 23 November)
South Zone finals, 3.30pm, TBA;
(Monday 27 November)
Signal Hill/Speyside v St Mary’s/St Anthony’s, National quarterfinals, TBA;
(Thursday 30 November)
San Juan/Valencia v Tobago/North, 3.30pm, National semifinals, Ato Boldon Stadium;
South v Carapichaima East/Chaguanas, 5.30pm, National semifinals, Ato Boldon Stadium;
South v Central, National Girls Semifinals, TBA;
East v North/Tobago, National Girls Semifinals, TBA;
(Monday 4 December)
National Girls Intercol finals, 3pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
National Boys Intercol Finals, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.