“Move over Bago, and let Malick pass!”
The chant streamed out from the dressing room at Serpentine Road, St Clair yesterday afternoon, as the schoolboys from Malick Secondary celebrated a deserved 2-nil victory over Speyside High School in Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Shell/FCB Big 5 action.
The victory took Malick to four points and—at least momentarily—put them atop the Big 5 Boys standings. Holy Cross College defeated Chaguanas North Secondary 4-2 in yesterday’s other fixture to join Pleasantville Secondary on three points.
Chaguanas (one point) and Speyside—who wet their feet in the Big 5 yesterday—brought up the rear. Only the top three teams in the competition will be promoted to the 2019 SSFL Premier Division competition.
Speyside have already had two seasons in the Premier Division in 2015 and 2017, although both ended in relegation for the “Country Boys,” who hail from the eastern end of Tobago.
Malick—once a North Zone powerhouse in the days of Arnold Dwarika, Kerwin Jemmott and Devorn Jorsling—are yet to make a Premier Division appearance. And coach Anthony Bartholomew thinks it’s high time for the school to get back on the football map.
Bartholomew suggested that the sight of Malick in the SSFL’s top flight could bring back some love in the Morvant/Laventille community.
“We are hoping to bring back the Malick we know and get that love and vibe in the community again,” Bartholomew told Wired868, as he shared his hurt at their premature deaths through criminal activity. “The community of Morvant/Laventille needs Malick to be a force again. Football does so much in a community and I for one does really go at that in a community.
“I really love the football because I know it saves lives. It does keep youth men off the street and it keeps them away from problems.”
Before kick-off, the Malick coach told his players to abandon the nerves displayed in their opening draw against Chaguanas and express themselves. A spot in the Premier Division, Bartholomew said, was almost certain if they managed a victory yesterday.
It’s safe to say that the Malick players heard Bartholomew’s message loud and clear.
Malick were only borrowing the Serpentine Road venue from current Premier Division strugglers St Mary’s College. But Bartholomew’s charges looked totally at home, as they controlled the tempo of the game for the most part and seemed quicker to all the second and third balls.
“Today the players gave a really great effort,” Bartholomew said. “Everybody was working as a unit.”
The Malick unison started at the back, as goalkeeper Jaydon Taylor looked assured and composed whenever called upon while the central defensive pairing of Kieron Sealey and Kyreil Dickson just about dealt with everything which came their way.
Meanwhile, skipper Krystean Morris provided the grit in central midfield, and the dreadlocked Kemo Charles was a bag of tricks on the right flank.
The aforementioned players paved the way for the strike duo of Zion Carpet and Nicholas Roach to do their thing in the final third, and both youngsters netted with fine second half items to clinch the result.
While Malick opted to build through Charles’ trickery or intricate passes involving Roach in the middle of the park, the Country Boys were more direct. And in the 20th minute, bustling attacker Jonathan Thomas fired a warning shot as he cracked a long range effort just wide of Taylor’s goal.
It was Malick who struck first, though, as flanker Denelson Kenneoy was impeded just outside the area; and, and after some deliberation with teammates, Carpet curled a beauty of a right-footed shot over the wall and past Speyside goalie Dashawn Robley.
“It was a really good game,” said Speyside coach Duane Murray. “We showed grit and a couple of mistakes early in the second half really was the difference.”
Four minutes after Carpet’s fine free kick, Roach doubled Malick’s lead as he shrugged off the attention of a few Speyside defenders to slot past Robley, after being sprung on the counter by the workmanlike Morris (K).
It was just reward for Roach, whose hold up play and general footwork was admirable, particularly when stalked by Speyside’s no-nonsense defensive duo of Renaldo Alleyne and Dionys Carrington.
Roach dropped deeper in the second half but his impact on the game wasn’t lost, as he threw himself into the midfield battle and also helped his team transition from defence to attack.
Murray would have loved to have someone of Roach’s composure on the day, as his attackers were indecisive in the final third and seemed to need an invitation to shoot.
In the 69th minute, Speyside attacker C’el Toppin looked to be through on goal after left back Deleon Beckles played a pass from the edge of the area. However, Toppin lost his footing when he was about to pull the trigger and the chance went a-begging.
Thomas did have have a crack in the 75th minute but his close ranged effort was smartly saved by Taylor, while Dickson cleared before Toppin could pounce.
With Bishop’s High School already relegated from the ongoing Premier Division season, Murray knows that his team must improve if Tobago is to have any representation in the SSFL top flight next year.
“We have two games at home so we’ll have to take advantage of those two games,” Murray said. “[The game against Pleasantville on] Friday is a must win for us and we can’t afford to slip… It’s going to be tough but I’m confident we will go up.”
While Speyside have gotten a less-than-perfect start to the Big 5 tournament, Malick are sitting pretty at the moment and Bartholomew and company are hoping for even bigger things.
“I would love more support for us next year when we go up in the Premier Division because I believe it is coming,” Bartholomew said. “The guys have worked very hard and I think they deserve to go upstairs in the top flight. It’s about time.”
Malick aren’t quite in the Premier Division yet; but a victory against Holy Cross on Friday will certainly get Bartholomew closer to his goal of spreading love in the Morvant/Laventille community through the beautiful game.
Malick Secondary (4-4-2): 1.Jaydon Taylor (GK); 15.Amir Simmons, 3.Kieron Sealey, 4.Kyreil Dickson, 6.Terique Reid; 7.Kemo Charles (14.Jamari Toppin 74), 16.John-Mark Morris, 8.Krystean Morris (captain), 11.Denelson Kennedy (2.Andre Marshall); 10.Nicholas Roach (12.Jahmarley Alfonso 86), 19.Zion Carpet.
Unused Substitutes: 27.Shakeel Boweng (GK), 9.Menelik McKenna, 13.Donté Murrien, 33.Shaquim Gooding.
Coach: Anthony Bartholomew
Speyside High School (4-4-2): 1.Dashawn Robley (GK); 21.Jaden Henry (20.Moses Bernard 83), 12.Dionys Carrington, 2.Renaldo Alleyne (captain), 6.Deleon Beckles; 8.Jonathan Thomas, 23.Ammaniki Richards (16.De Andre St Hillaire [13.Kael Moore 74]), 7.Nicholas Sanchez, 10.Kern McDonald; 11.C’el Toppin, 9.Ronaldo Samuel.
Unused Substitutes: 25.Akinde Green (GK), 4.Nyrel Denoon, 5.Dwight Moore, 19.Keithle Elliott.
Coach: Duane Murray
Referee: Larry Lalchan
Boys Big 5 results
(Tuesday 30 October)
Malick Secondary 2 (Zion Carpet 52, Nicholas Roach 55), Speyside High School 0 at Serpentine Road;
Holy Cross College 4, Chaguanas North Secondary 2 at Larry Gomes Stadium.
(Friday 2 November)
Speyside High School vs Pleasantville Secondary, 3:30pm, Tobago;
Holy Cross College vs Malick Secondary, 3:30pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
Chaguanas North are on a bye.