Defending Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) champions Presentation College (San Fernando) continued their 100% start to the Premier Division campaign as they defeated Carapichaima East Secondary 3-1 on a heavy Guaracara Park outfield in Pointe-à-Pierre this afternoon.
Pretty football was never going to be the order of the day, after an early afternoon shower led to sluggish field conditions. However, the 2017 Premier Division champions had enough desire to see off “Caps”—despite putting in a performance that failed to satisfy coach Shawn Cooper.
“Besides the trying conditions, I thought we were flat,” Cooper told Wired868. “I thought we lacked a little purpose in our play and after we scored the first goal I think the boys decided that the team was a walk over and dropped their standard to the opposition…
“I wasn’t pleased with the performance [at all].”
Cooper didn’t crack a smile afternoon, and one shudders to think what his reaction would have been like if his team did not defend home turf today. At least Cooper had some solace in the three points. Fierce southern rivals, Naparima College, were not so lucky, as they were held goalless by East Mucurapo Secondary at Lewis Street in San Fernando.
Elsewhere, Trinity College (Moka) registered their first win of the season against Fatima College while St Augustine Secondary, St Benedict’s College and Trinity College (East) remained undefeated after drawn outings.
In Tobago, St Anthony’s College scored twice in the last five minutes against Bishop’s High School to register a 3-1 victory, while QRC rode a John-Paul Rochford double to defeat Valencia Secondary 2-0.
At Guaracara Park, Cooper suggested that his team lacked intensity and purpose—but he could not have been referring to Presentation winger Jordan Riley. The game was just six minutes old when Riley, who was arguably the best “Pres Lions” player for the 2017 season, put Presentation ahead with his second goal of the young campaign, as he followed up an attempt by bulldozing centre forward Omri Baird to send a stiff, low drive past Carapichaima goalkeeper Terell Leacock.
Carapichaima, who were making their bow in the 2018 season after enjoying a bye last Saturday, would have wanted a smoother start to the season as they could find no answer for the defending champions.
“I think the guys put in a good effort today, I applaud them for that,” Caps coach, Randolph Boyce, told Wired868. “At the same time, we made a couple mistakes […] for the first goal we didn’t close down fast enough and for the final goal we were too slow to react.”
Feisty, neat in possession and determined, Boyce’s outfit—one of two teams to defeat 2016 Premier Division champs Shiva Boys’ Hindu College on the field of play last season—are no pushovers. But they looked in danger of a thrashing at times.
Presentation’s Tobago-born attacker Jaiye Sheppard and defender Darnell Hospedales both went close within the first 15 minutes while Baird was twice denied by Leacock from point blank range.
Carapichaima were often aesthetically pleasing, with central midfielder Josiah King looking more adept at the conditions than most. But Presentation skipper and goalkeeper Jabari Gray had precious little to do.
A 54th minute Baird effort—which took a wicked deflection and was deemed an own goal—coupled with a predatory 70th minute header by Sheppard, secured the result for the hosts.
Carapichaima did get some reward for their efforts today, as tidy midfielder Keilon Burnett banged home from close range in the 79th minute following a sweet move which involved Mecaheil Alexander and substitute Akeil Vespray. And four minutes later, Alexander had screaming Carapichaima fans dreaming about a late comeback, only to lash wide from a tight angle in the penalty area.
“Now, we have to see if we have the drive and desire to stay up and keep the fight and repeat what we did last year,” Boyce said. “It’s just about putting it together and today’s game was tough and the conditions were tough as well. It took away a bit from our style of play but that’s how it is some days.
“I would have liked to see [us stage a comeback] but unfortunately the script didn’t unfold that way. But as you saw, they threw everything into it and they played with heart, passion and desire.”
As usual, Cooper plans to take it one game at a time.
“We didn’t have as much practice games as the other teams so what we are trying to do is build a momentum and peak at the right time,” the Presentation coach said. “Despite a performance I didn’t like we are trying to get our three points. We play for points and we got the three points so I’m pleased about that aspect […] It’s a work in progress.”
Cooper, who was only recently appointed head coach of the Women’s National Senior Team, may not have been impressed. But his young troops will have him know that the Lions are only just getting their paws wet.
On Saturday, the defending champions will try to leave their imprint on the “Saints” of St Mary’s College in St Clair.
Presentation College (San F’do) (4-2-3-1): 28.Jabari Gray (GK) (captain); 13.Markus Mason, 5.Justin Cornwall, 27.Darnell Hospedales, 3.Juaval Roberts; 12.Jerrin Jackie (20.Shakeem Julien 25), 15.Aleem Barclay; 10.Jordan Riley (22.Amaal Julien 77), 6.Ackeel Jacob, 9.Jaiye Sheppard; 7.Omri Baird.
Unused Substitutes: 1.Isaiah Williams (GK), 18.Nkosi Charles, 21.Acelino Medford, 23.Christoph John, 29.Jardel Sinclair.
Coach: Shawn Cooper
Carapichaima East (5-3-2): 22.Terell Leacock (GK); 12.Emmanuel Correia, 2.Jaron Pascal (21.Ivan Dos Santos 81), 4.Brandon St Clair, 3.Symron Wiseman, 13.Jaedon Miller (18.Akeil Vespray 46); 8.Keilon Burnett, 5.Luke Charles, 6.Josiah King; 9.Kevon Williams (captain), 17.Mecaheil Alexander (19.Neils Dexter 89).
Coach: Randolph Boyce
Referee: Cecile Hinds
Wired868 Man of the Match: Omri Baird (Presentation College San F’do)
SSFL Premier Division Result
(Wednesday 19 September)
Presentation (San F’do) 3 (Jordan Riley 6, OG 54, Jaiye Sheppard 70), Carapichaima East 1 (Keilon Burnett 79) at Guaracara Park;
Bishop’s High School 1 (Dominique Lyons 59), St Anthony’s College 3 (Zion Williams 44, Omari Wiltshire 87, Khiesa Granger 89) at Tobago;
Naparima College 0, East Mucurapo Secondary 0 at Lewis Street, San Fernando;
QRC 2 (John-Paul Rochford ), Valencia Secondary 0 at QRC;
St Augustine Secondary 2 (Dorian Sampson 24, Kesean St Rose 90+4), Trinity College East 2 (Kerdell Sween 55, Terrell Wiley 73) at St Augustine;
St Benedict’s College 1 (Yatham Henry 77), St Mary’s College 1 (Devon Charles 37) at St Benedict’s;
Trinity College Moka 1 (Kai Phillip), Fatima College 0 at Moka;
San Juan North are on a bye
(Saturday 22 September)
East Mucurapo Secondary vs Carapichaima East Secondary, 3:40pm, QRC;
Fatima College vs Trinity College East, 3:40pm, Fatima;
San Juan North vs Bishop’s High School, 3:40pm, San Juan;
St Augustine Secondary vs QRC, 3:40pm, St Augustine;
St Benedict’s College vs Naparima College, 3:40pm, St Benedict’s;
St Mary’s College vs Presentation (San F’do), 3:40pm, Serpentine Road;
Trinity College (Moka) vs Valencia Secondary, 3:40pm, Moka;
St Anthony’s College are on a bye.
2018 SSFL Premier Division