There is life in the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division yet and it erupted out of a pulsating Naparima College performance, as they downed league leaders and defending champions Presentation College (San Fernando) 3-1 at Lewis Street, San Fernando.
Presentation College now have only a one point lead over their arch rivals, “Naps”, with two matches remaining. The gap between second and third place has stretched to two points as well, after San Juan North Secondary were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw away to St Anthony’s College in Westmoorings.
Naparima play mid-table outfits, Queen’s Royal College and Trinity College (Moka) next—both with no chance of the league title or relegation—while the “Pres Lions” have more unpredictable outings at home to St Anthony’s and away to San Juan North.
No wonder Naparima coach Angus Eve was in a buoyant mood at the final whistle.
“Credit to ‘Pres’—they are a good team,” a beaming Eve told told Wired868. “Unfortunately they met the juggernaut in Naps today!
“I thought that a lot of games before today we let ourselves down with our finishing and probably that’s why we drew some of the games… I just thought today we showed our quality, we showed our class. Now we’re ready.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the hosts though. Jordan Riley maintained his scoring streak with a 14th minute penalty that squirmed under the hand of Presentation goalkeeper Levi Fernandez.
It capped a dominant first half display by the reigning champions who only lacked the finishing touch, with Naparima firmly on the back foot in the southern derby.
After the interval however, it was a horse of a different colour.
“North, south, east, west; Naparima is the best!” bellowed the mud soaked Naparima fan army, as they roused the host team into action.
And, with a routine straight off the training ground, Daquon Foster levelled scores within five minutes of the restart, with a thunderbolt of a freekick from 25 yards that flew past Presentation custodian Jabari Gray and into the top corner. Boom!
Things quickly went from bad to worse as Presentation midfielder Justin Cornwall was shown a second yellow card for a cynical foul on the excellent Naparima flanker Isa Bramble. Presentation coach Shawn Cooper did not try to hide his disappointment on the touchline.
Eve pointed to his halftime talk as the catalyst for their second half revival, though.
“Coaches earn their money inside the dressing room at half time,” said Eve. “We were playing 4-5-1 which is our natural formation. If you realised we took Isa Bramble from the right side and we went to two up front and a diamond in midfield, to put pressure on them and win the ball higher up the park so we then could explode.
“And that was the difference. You saw we had two runners and they didn’t know how to deal with it when we came out in the second half.”
Bramble and his strike partner, Seon Shippley, both got on the score sheet as Naparima applied the knock out punches in the 65th and 69th minutes—each chance created by one forward for the other.
Presentation were all at sea and midfielder Ackeel “Hulk” Jacob might be still sliding across the muddy field tonight, after Bramble—undoubtedly the star of the show—cleverly poked the ball beyond the former’s late, lunging challenge.
In the stands, it was J’ouvert in November as Naps supporters filled the air with chats and songs, which grew louder still when a frustrated Riley was substituted.
The exciting winger has seven goals to his name this season and has arguably been the best player in the 2018 SSFL; but today was not his day.
Spare a thought for Jacob though. Having returned from his slippery adventure, his deflected free kick forced Fernandez into a fine finger-tip save at his near post and nearly offered Pres a lifeline.
Pride was still at stake and Cooper’s charges, despite the numerical disadvantage, were still trying.
However, had referee Cecile Hinds not been in a charitable mood, things may have gotten worse.
Naparima substitute Ezekiel Kesar was felled in the box with the guilty culprits frozen and red faced over their indiscretion. But when Kesar realised that Hinds had not pointed to the spot, he rose to his feet and shot inches wide of the far post.
It was the final act in an excellent turn around for the 2014 and 2015 champions, Naparima.
“I thought it was a good game of football; Pres are not on top of the league for nothing,” said Eve. “But as you saw today, we passed them off the park. We ran the game for the most part. For me it was total domination by one team on the other team.
“Who didn’t see what happened here today [with the atmosphere], that’s why I love to coach in the colleges league. That passion. That drive. That sense of community. You see the both schools. It’s a healthy rivalry and football won today.”
A few weeks ago, Cooper wondered if they were peaking too soon, as they returned nine wins and one draw from their first 10 matches. Now, Pres have just a solitary point to show from their last two outings.
At Lewis Street, the Pres Lions were well tamed. The title race is on!
Naparima College (4-2-3-1):1.Levi Fernandez (GK); 5.Daquon Foster, 4.Tyrike Andrews, 12.Christopher Asukile, 15.Marvin Waldrop; 6.Shoaib Khan, 17. Nathaniel Perouse; 19.Isa Bramble (11.Kern Cedeno), 10.Decklan Marcelle, 8.Kodel Frontin (captain) (9.Ezekiel Kesar); 20.Seon Shippley (24.Jabari Lee).
Unused Substitutes: 30.Enrique Changiah (GK), 3.Chakim Guy, 14.Molik Khan, 18.Caleb Gaspar.
Coach: Angus Eve
Presentation College (San F’do) (4-3-3): 28.Jabari Gray (GK) (captain); 3.Juaval Roberts, 18.Nkosi Chance, 27.Darnell Hospedales, 2.Zion Allen; 5.Justin Cornwall,15.Aleem Barclay,6.Ackeel Jacob; 10.Jordan Riley (29.Jardel Sinclair), 7.Omri Baird (20.Shakeem Julien), 9.Jaiye Sheppard (24.Adica Ash).
Unused Substitutes: 1.Isaiah Williams (GK), 13.Markus Mason, 19.Terrell Noel, 22.Amaal Julien, 23.Christoph John.
Coach: Shawn Cooper
Premier Division results
(Wednesday 31 October)
Naparima College 3 (Daquon Foster 51, Isa Bramble 65, Seon Shippley 69), Presentation College (San F’do) 1 (Jordan Riley 14) at Lewis Street;
St Anthony’s College 1 (Kiron Manswell 40), San Juan North 1 (Renaldo Boyce 28) at Westmoorings;
Fatima College 0, QRC 1 (Darlon Guppy) at Mucurapo Road;
St Benedict’s College 1 (Akeil Vesprey OG), Carapichaima East 1 (Kevon Williams) at St Benedict’s;
St Mary’s College 2 (Gabriel Nanton 10, Tyrese Spicer 42), East Mucurapo 4 (Jaheim Patrick 8, Zion McLeod 30, David Daniel 63, Kidane lewis 69) at St Mary’s;
Trinity College (Moka) 3 (Temesgn Tezera , Kai Phillip), St Augustine Secondary 3 (Jelani Augustus 22, Kesean St Rose 23, Rivaldo Coryat 49) at Moka;
Trinity College East 2 (Daniel Lake 22, Jarved Elcock 46), Valencia Secondary 2 (Andre Robinson 13, Zidan Liverpool 43) at Trincity;
Bishop’s High School are on a bye
(Saturday 3 November)
Bishop’s High School vs East Mucurapo, 3:40pm, Plymouth Recreation Ground;
Carapichaima East vs Trinity East, 3:40pm, Carapichaima;
Naparima College vs QRC, Lewis Street, 3:40pm, San Fernando;
Presentation College (San F’do) vs St Anthony’s College, 3:40pm, Presentation;
San Juan North vs St Benedict’s College, 3:40pm, Bourg Mulatresse;
St Augustine Secondary vs Valencia Secondary, 3:40pm, St Augustine;
Trinity College (Moka) vs St Mary’s College, 3:40pm, Moka;
Fatima College are on a bye
2018 SSFL Premier Division