Nathaniel James added his third goal in two matches to help Queen’s Royal College survive a second-half onslaught from St Augustine Secondary. QRC won 3-1 on the College Grounds in St Clair in round 3 of the Secondary School’s Football League (SSFL).
“Love it, love it, love it,” an excited QRC coach Nigel ‘Grovey’ Grovesnor said after the match. “St Augustine is a good side. They have one of the best attackers in the league in Tyrique Spicer and I think the guys stuck to the challenge today.”
Spurred on by an energetic blue-clad crowd and the QRC Scout Band, the Royalians pushed for an opener and in the 13th minute, James broke the deadlock.
The National Under-15 midfielder stood his defender up, dropped his shoulder and whipped it in the first post with his favorite left, though, the loyal ‘Gustin support opposite the band felt the keeper should have done better.
In the 20th, Rivaldo Patron, who one keen observer noticed seemed to pattern himself after his Brazilian namesake, hit a snapshot that forced a blind parry out of Jumaine McNeil. Jardel John was first to it and slotted in the equalizer. But for the music, the schools seemed to stand still.
St Augustine could have gone up 2-1 after the silky attacker Tyrese Spicer made light work of his marking, the keeper and the slick surface to square for John, but he banged his shot off the crossbar to groans and a steups from the green uniforms.
QRC found the net next. James atoned for throwing away an earlier chance, bobbing and weaving past four before being hacked down in the area on the clock tower end. Ajahri Murrien got a piece of Jude Johnson’s spot kick, but it was just strong enough to make it 2-1 after 24.
The third came five minutes later when Jude Anthony Johnson produced a beautiful cross from a left-side free kick Miguel Cross could hardly miss, 3-1. An Instagram video taken over Johnson’s shoulder was captioned: ‘right on point’.
As the match settled down after the 16-minute flurry, the band showed their pedigree, following the standard ‘QRC We Want A Goal’ with a couple of brassy calypsos. But it wasn’t enough to cheer the youngsters from the east seated in their direct path. In the moment, even the hum of St Clair Avenue traffic would have made for better listening.
The 3-1 half-time lead did not look unassailable on the pitch but ultimately proved to be.
In the second half, led by Spicer, Gustin’s attack of Patron, Jardel John, Keil Morris and Kyle Carrington threw everything they had at QRC’s back four but seldom in unison and most of their efforts flew wide and high of the target.
“I told them not to panic,” Grovey said after the match. “Halftime, I told them to prepare for the first 20 minutes they going to pressure us. Let’s withstand that 20 minutes and they will start to tire, and we’ll start to get into it. And that’s what happened. So, we really put out everything.”
Spicer put a volley right at the keeper as a line of Gustin heroes queued up to make the difference. Structure flew out the window and their attacks became more frenetic.
Even the ‘Wonder Twin’ powers of Jerel and Jamal Meloney couldn’t activate. Although, on their own, the pair did cause QRC some worry along the right flank.
Make no mistake, St Augustine was in charge. QRC, in contrast, had to settle for counter-attacking.
In the 80th minute, second-half sub, Kaylon Taylor, missed a clear chance after Jaheim Granderson beat two and bobbled it across St Augustine’s six-yard box.
In the 85th ‘Natty’ had a chance to put it to bed, but with all the time in the world, he skied it into touch.
Two minutes later, Carrington had a chance to bring St Augustine within one, but it looked more likely to threaten the clock.
McNeil clawed Spicer’s header away from the goal line to keep QRC’s lead safe shortly before the final whistle. QRC came out 3-1 winners in an electric atmosphere for a QRC fan.
In the end, the Green Machine’s dominance would not pay off. Coach Trevor Spicer said they would focus on finishing and defensive organisation for the rest of the week.
“We could have scored two or three in the first half [but] only scored one,” he said after the match. “Then we dominated the second half and could not score again, missing from all angles. I don’t know what to say again. But in retrospect, we played football. We tried to put the ball down and play football. What I’m going to tell them is continue our play and finish our chances.”
Nigel ‘Grovey’ Grovesnor, for his part, was happy with the performance put on by his young charges.
Asked about the keys to their success on Wednesday he said: “Team defense, the whole team helped out in defense. They attacked the ball in the air and early, not giving St Augustine time to settle and play.”
Grovey said he was very excited about the future. “I have these guys for the next two, three years. I don’t want to say this is a transition year, I don’t say that. Every season we go to play, we play to win.”
QRC next welcome Grovey’s former employers, St Anthony’s College, who had the midweek off. St Augustine will host Carapichaima East Secondary.
Queen’s Royal College (4-3-3): 1.Jumaine McNeil (GK); 18.Tristan Stafford, 17.Donell Claxton, 9.Veron Aqui, 4.Ezekiel Armstrong; 8.Brian Armstrong (25.Kaylon Taylor), 11.Renaldo Mullings, 13.Nathaniel James; 19.Jude-Anthony Johnson, 14.Miguel Cross(12.Jardel Joslyn), 7.Jahiem Granderson.
Unused Subs: 6.Christian Reid, 15.Izraell Liverpool, 23.Diego Nanton, 5.Jerimiah Logie, 22.K.Oshun Thomas.
St Augustine Secondary: (4-3-3): 1.Ajahri Murrien (GK); 3.Anderson Roberts (24.Joshua Ambrose), 4.Cade Massy, 18.Jamal Meloney, 25.Jael Ransome (23.Neil Walcott); 8.Kiel Lopez (13.Jirel Meloney), 6.Keil Morris, 21.Rivaldo Patron; 19.Kyle Carrington, 16.Tyrese Spicer, 10.Jardel John.
Unused subs: 7.Kerry Headley, 9.Dwight Jordan, 20.Jelani Peters, 22.Tristan Edwards, 14.Oba Merritt.
Player of the Match: Nathaniel James (QRC)
SSFL Premier Division results
(Wednesday 18 September)
QRC 3 (Nathaniel James 13, Jude Anthony Johnson 24, Miguel Cross 29), St Augustine Secondary 1 (Jardel John 20) at QRC;
Naparima College 3, St Benedict’s College 0 at Lewis Street;
Presentation (San F’do) 3, St Mary’s College 0 at Mannie Ramjohn;
Carapichaima East 1, Mucurapo East 1 (Daniel David 42) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Speyside Secondary 2 (Kern McDonald 15, Nicholas Sanchez 62), San Juan North Secondary 1 (Isaiah Chase 65) at Speyside;
Pleasantville Secondary 1, Trinity College Moka 2 at Pleasantville;
Trinity College East v Malick Secondary (did not play);
St Anthony’s College are on a bye
(Saturday 21 September)
Trinity Moka v Speyside Secondary at Moka;
St Augustine Secondary v Carapichaima East at St Augustine;
QRC v St Anthony’s College at QRC;
St Benedict’s College v Presentation (San F’do) at Mannie Ramjohn;
Malick Secondary v Naparima College at TBD;
San Juan North v Trinity East at Bourg Mulatresse;
St Mary’s College v Pleasantville Secondary at Serpentine Road;
East Mucurapo are on a bye;