Defending Secondary School Football League (SSFL) champions Presentation College (San Fernando) laid down another marker in their title pursuit this season by dispatching south rivals St Benedict’s College 3-1 at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium.
The buzzing atmosphere in Marabella set the stage for Presentation’s Jordan Riley to lay down a marker of his own, as an early MVP contender, in a bristling SSFL showdown that did not disappoint from the get go.
The 18 year old winger wreaked havoc on the opposing defence all evening, as he made a mockery of all and sundry before him in a man of the match display.
“I think he should be a household name,” said Presentation coach Shawn Cooper. “I didn’t think he had the outstanding season last year. He was steady; but this year he is four out of four with goals.
“Jordan Riley has been a household name, in south, since from age 14. We have been blooding him […] and now we are seeing [the returns].”
It was Riley himself who helped erase some early jitters for Presentation, after they conceding early. Patrons were still making their way through the turnstiles when St Benedict’s attacker Yatham Henry rose above his marker to glance a Keon Boney free kick towards goal.
Presentation goalkeeper and captain Jabari Gray got a hand to it but did not show enough wrist strength, as the ball squirmed home to give the Benedict’s faithful an early lead.
The “Pres Lions” threatened to respond almost immediately, though, as a criminally unmarked Ackeel Jacob fired into the back of the net from eight yards—only for the assistant referee to raise his flag and belatedly overrule the potential equaliser
It was a clear warning to Benedict’s coach Reynold Carrington but his custodian Leonard Richardson didn’t seem to receive the memo.
Richardson unwisely chose to dawdle and dawdle, as he waited for a ball played through the middle to roll into the penalty area and his grasp. And Riley pounced on the hesitation, as he stole the ball off the opposing goalkeeper and was promptly hacked down. Penalty!
Riley dusted himself off and cooly slotted home from the spot.
Presentation forward Omri Baird then brought the crowd to their feet with a superb goal at the stroke of half time, after the Benedict’s defence unwisely allowed a ball to drop at the back.
Baird ran onto the bouncing ball, flicked it around a trailing defender before volleying high into the net. He celebrated with a “fling shoulda” dance routine which competed with Riley’s own “fortnite” jig, earlier in their affair.
All fun and games for Presentation then, although Benedict’s coach Reynold Carrington was seriously worried.
“Being the defending champions, Presentation would know what winning is like so you don’t give them chances to get back in the game,” said Carrington. “I think it was a little too easy for them to get back in the game. I think the timing of the goals would have really gotten the guys deflated and it was hard for us to get back into it.
“It was too [many] soft mistakes.”
It did not get better for Benedict’s in the second half after. Buoyed by a rousing rendition of the Viking thunder clap chant from their supporters, the Pres Lions peppered Richardson’s goal from all angles.
First, midfielder Aleem Barclay brought the best out of Richardson before Jacob fired straight down the throat of the custodian from the same distance. Both were teed up by—you guessed it—Jordan Riley.
Unsurprisingly, Riley was involved in the goal that put the contest to bed in the 66th minute, as he powered to the byline and cut the ball back to the top of the box where the roving Barclay zipped an effort into the bottom corner to round off the scoring.
It was the cherry to top off an excellent performance from Barclay, who seemed to have been afforded the freedom of Marabella as he dictated the pace of the game and offered an ideal foil for the marauding Riley.
Riley brought out the tricks at the end, as he flicked the ball over the head of one player and performed an encore on Henry, who floored the attacker and promptly received a second yellow card and his marching orders.
It was a disappointing end to the night for Henry, whose opening goal seemed like ages ago as he strode down the tunnel.
Cooper is keen for his own charges to maintain their high although he did hope that they have not peaked yet.
“We went down and immediately we fought back and got the equalizer, then kept a steady pace and just continued on,” said Cooper. “Like today, [the season] has been going steadily upwards and I hope to peak at the right time. I really don’t want them to peak at this point but they are doing well.”
Cooper gave a reserved judgment but there was plenty to worry opposing teams. The SSFL should beware; because Riley and the Pres Lions are purring.
Presentation College (San F’do) (4-2-4): 28.Jabari Gray (GK)(captain); 3.Juaval Roberts, 5.Justin Cornwall, 27.Darnell Hospedales, 2.Zion Allen; 15.Aleem Barclay, 12.Jerrin Jackie; 10.Jordan Riley, 6.Ackeel Jacob (20.Shakeem Julien), 7.Omri Baird, 9.Jaiye Sheppard (29.Jardel Sinclair).
Unused Substitutes: 1.Isaiah Williams, 13.Markus Mason, 14.Tylon Roseman, 21.Acelino Medford, 22.Amaal Julien.
Coach: Shawn Cooper
St Benedict’s College (4-2-3-1): 22.Leonard Richardson (GK); 3.Merlik Campbell (21.Jabari Jones), 6.Darnell Charles, 5.Anderson Peters, 13.Khayyam Headley; 16.Andez Tallan, 32.Yatham Henry; 9.Jaycee Paras, 20.Keon Boney (C), 14.Kareem Phillip (11.Ahkeel Ferrier); 7.Aaron Rodney (12.Rhowen Stewart Williams).
Unused Substitutes: 1.Daniel Johnson, 4.Kent Hamilton, 17.Joshua Joseph, 23.Aaron Lamy Ramsden.
Coach: Reynold Carrington
SSFL Premier Division results
(Wednesday 26 September)
Presentation (San F’do) 3 (Jordan Riley 12, Omri Baird 45, Aleem Barclay 66), St Benedict’s College 1 (Yatham Henry 5) at Manny Ramjohn Stadium
Naparima College 2 (Mark Ramdeen 34, 78), Fatima College 0 at Lewis Street, San Fernando;
Trinity East 0, San Juan North 1 (Elair Brewster) at Trincity;
Valencia Secondary 3 (Kevon Alonzo OG 26, 59, Zidan Liverpool 56), St Mary’s College 1 (Justin Keith 79) at Valencia;
St Anthony’s College 2 (Quinn Frederick 38, Josiah Edwards 77), QRC 0 at Westmoorings;
Bishop’s High (Tobago) 2 (Adriel George 26, 90+1), Trinity (Moka) 3 (Raheim Jawahar 73, 75, Kai Phillips 90+3) at Plymouth Recreation Ground;
Carapichaima East 4, St Augustine 3 at Carapichaima;
East Mucurapo Secondary are on a bye.
(Saturday 29 September)
All kick offs are at 3:40pm
East Mucurapo vs Presentation (San F’do), TBA;
Fatima College vs St Mary’s College, Fatima;
QRC vs Bishop’s High (Tobago), QRC;
St Augustine vs Naparima College, St Augustine;
Trinity (Moka) vs San Juan North, Moka;
Trinity East vs St Anthony’s College, Trincity;
Valencia Secondary vs Carapichaima East, Valencia;
St Benedict’s College are on a bye
2018 SSFL Premier Division