Presentation San Fernando’s 2-1-win condemned San Juan North to their fourth loss in seven games in Secondary School Football League (SSFL) round eight action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on Saturday.
Ackeel Jacob was the match-winner with a fine goal in the second half to propel the south giants to 16 points and back into the title mix.
“Normally 14 points is the safe level for demotion so I think we crossed that now, so we are looking to challenge for the title,” stated Presentation head coach, Shawn Cooper. “I think we are in a rebuilding stage and we are doing pretty well for a rebuilding stage.”
League leaders, Naparima College, continued their tremendous 28-game unbeaten run, which stretches back to last season, with a 3-1 victory over lowly Trinity Moka. While contenders St Anthony’s College and East Mucurapo ended the day locked at 2-2.
San Juan’s coach Jerry Moe will surely be watching over his shoulder now as St Benedicts, Trinity East, and Pleasantville, who all started the round below them, were able to secure valuable wins.
It certainly seems bleak for St Mary’s College, however, as they received a 5-0 battering from Trinity East in what was their sixth loss already this season.
Jerry Moe’s task of avoiding a similar record was dealt a major blow recently as star striker Renaldo Boyce is out with a shoulder injury, and his physicality up top was something the visitors lacked throughout the 90 minutes in south. With their captain and talisman seated in the stands, San Juan picked the ball out of the back of the net in as early as the 2nd minute.
Photo: Presentation (San F’do) goalkeeper Isaiah Williams diving in vain at a strike by San Juan North’s Tyrique Sutherland during SSFL action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella on 5 October 2019.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-images/Wired868)Poor defensive work allowed Pres top scorer, Jayie Sheppard, to tap home from close range after some initial good work from T&T National Under-15 player Dantaye Gilbert.
National Under-17 forward Sheppard is now a veteran of the Pres Lions, but it is the likes of young Gilbert and a few others that Cooper views as being the future of the team moving forward to fill the void of the now-departed electric winger Jordan Riley.
“We have some young ones in the wings [like] Jordan Riley. They are just inexperienced,” claimed Cooper. “We are just blooding them, giving them a little 15, 20 mins. The same thing we did with Jordan Riley.
“We have Dante Gilbert, Kassidy Davidson and Kanye Lazarus, who are on the National Under-15 team. Coming off the bench, we have my son Shakeem Cooper, we have Wiltshire here. Caraby, a National Under -17 … We have a lot of young ones and we are hoping that they learn from this experience in 2019 and come very strong 2020.”
Cooper continued: “Y’all saw a development process with Jordan Riley because he was like one of these young ones also and he came on after a couple of years. Definitely we miss the kinda of service he would have given us and the goals, but now we have to depend on the others who are here and give it a more team effort.”
While the esteemed coach may be optimistic about the potential of his young guns, it was his experienced centre back pair of Luke Charles and Justin Cornwall who kept the gates closed on San Juan. Attackers Tyrique Sutherland and Daniel Best could hold no candle to the size of their injured captain Boyce, but they did offer a bit of energy and movement.
Jordan Britto strode forward from midfield and jinxed his way to the by-line, laying one defender on the carpet before pulling back to unmarked teammates in the box. But Cornwall and Charles got the blocks in just in time.
Many ‘near opportunities’ would be the story of the opening 45 for San Juan as they searched for an equalizer, along with the intriguing battle in the middle of the park between the tall, slender Britto and the shorter, more powerful Jacob.
At the other end, Presentation’s chances were a lot more clear-cut as they tried to extend their lead.
In the 37th minute, San Juan goalkeeper, Emmanuel John, got down low to his left to deny Nkosi Charles. That save was then followed with a burst of skill and pace from Sheppard that was reminiscent of that famous moment of Gareth Bale’s powerful run and goal in the 2014 Copa del Rey Final.
On a counter, Sheppard put on his best impression of the Welsh wizard, pushing the ball down the line beyond opposing full back Emmanuel Thomas and then running slightly off the field and back on again in a fantastic display of acceleration.
Thomas might still have been seeing a blur when he eventually hauled down the Pres man on the edge of the penalty area.
Luckily for Moe, the play and resulting free kick didn’t cost more than a bruised ego. San Juan came out brighter after the interval with the half-time team talk having the desired effect.
They floated a cross into the hosts’ box which was only half cleared. The ball fell kindly to former Trinity East student Sutherland at the top of the 18 and in one swivel on the half volley, he rifled a shot into the bottom corner for the equaliser.
Cooper responded by throwing on forward Jardel Sinclair, and with his first kick of the game, he was inches away from restoring the lead. Played through down the right channel, he cracked the frame of the goal with a fierce shot that ricocheted and flew across the face of the goal.
Sutherland, brimming with confidence now, tried his luck with a superbly dipping volley from 22 yards that flew just over the crossbar.
The notch was turned up and the game was becoming a dogged affair with crunching tackles in no short supply.
The burly Jacob personified the rugged nature of the encounter but found his defter side to decide the tie in the 70th minute. He won possession in the centre circle after a tussle with nemesis, Britto, played a give and go with substitute Jardel Sinclair, and then placed a powerful shot beyond (E) John.
It was one ‘Hulk’ smash too many for the team in green (ironically) on the day, and Cooper’s men closed out the victory.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game, a typical San Juan, Presentation College game. [… ]Very close!” said Cooper. “Two well-coached teams. The game was played with a lot of passion. It was played like an Intercol game … so they came back very strong in the second half. But at the end of the game, I think we were the justified winners.”
On the face of it, the young Pres outfit will still need to lift their game to catch Naps at the top, but after a handy three points earned, they are definitely in with a shout.
Presentation College (San F’do) (4-1-4-1): 1.Isaiah Williams (GK); 2.Nigel Carraby, 5.Justin Cornwall, 3.Luke Charles, 6.Zion Allen; 15.Aleem Barclay; 20.Naeem Bisnath (19.Shakeem Cooper),13.Dantaye Gilbert (16.Jardel Sinclair), 10.Ackeel Jacob, 17.Nkosi Charles; 9.Jayie Sheppard.
Head Coach: Shawn Cooper
San Juan North (4-4-2): 1.Emmanuel John (GK); 3.Emmanuel Thomas, 4.Elisha Garcia, 17.Kareem John; 13.Christon Mitchell (14.Kendo Matthias), 20.Kedell Jones, 6.Jordan Britto, 11.Isaiah Chase; 7.Tyrique Sutherland, 23.Daniel Best (12.Ahmad Daniel).
Head Coach: Jerry Moe
Man of the Match: Ackeel Jacob
SSFL Premier Division results
(Saturday 5 October)
St Benedict’s College 1 (Ackeem Mason), Speyside Secondary 0 at Mahaica Oval;
St Anthony’s College 2, East Mucurapo 2 (Zion McLeod, Delaney Zamore) at Westmoorings;
Carapichaima East 1 (Isaiah Samuel), QRC 1 (Miguel Cross) at Carapichaima;
Presentation College (San F’do) 2 (Jaiye Sheppard, Ackeel Jacob), San Juan North 1 (Tyrique Sutherland) at Mannie Ramjohn;
Trinity East 5 (Jovonn Gomes , Terrell Wiley), St Mary’s College 0 at Trincity;
Naparima College 3 (Ezekiel Kesar , Mark Ramdeen), Trinity Moka 1 (Menes Jahra) at Lewis Street;
Malick Secondary 1 (Nickell Alexander 4), Pleasantville Secondary 4 (Flex Lewis 1, 31, Nikoli Mendoza 26, Ephraim Brown 43) at Serpentine Road;
St Augustine Secondary are on a bye
(Wednesday 9 October)[All games start at 3.30pm]
Speyside Secondary v Carapichaima East at Speyside;
St Anthony’s College v Naparima College at Westmoorings;
Trinity East v QRC at Trincity;
Presentation (San F’do) v St Augustine Secondary at Mannie Ramjohn;
Malick Secondary v St Benedict’s College at Hasely Crawford;
San Juan North v St Mary’s College at Bourg Mulatresse;
East Mucurapo v Pleasantville at Mucurapo Road;
Trinity Moka are on a bye