No Renaldo Boyce. No Jerry Morris. No problem for coach Jerry Moe’s San Juan North Secondary outfit.
The ‘Bourg Boys’ consolidated seventh spot in the Premier Division of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) today with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over longtime eastern rivals St Augustine Secondary in Bourg Mulatresse.
Before kick-off, a couple of veteran supporters went back and forth as they made their way to the venue, reminiscing on the glory days of the 1980s for the two schools.
“Bourg might be saying something now, but the Green Machine set the pace for San Juan and these other schools,” the St Augustine supporter said.
“That’s back in the old days,“ he San Juan supporter retorted. “The Green Machine not big and bad again. They ain’t ready for Bourg!”
With players still trying to come to terms with the sluggish outfield, St Augustine attacker Kyle Carrington put his team ahead with a close-range effort in the 13th minute. Carrington, a former St Mary’s College student, is one half of a fearsome attacking duo that also features another former ‘Saints’ student, Tyrese Spicer.
The duo, along with current St Augustine coach, Trevor Spicer, made the switch from St Mary’s to St Augustine in the off season. And before a modest Bourg crowd, they were looking to power the Green Machine to victory on enemy territory.
In the first, at least, the visitors looked good value for their money, and they ought to have added to their early lead.
In the 17th minute, Carrington failed to replicate his scoring touch, as he fired just wide of goal after Spicer forced goalkeeper Emmanuel John into a low save from a tight angle. Ten minutes later, the lively Jardel John came up second best in a one-on-one duel with John, after San Juan defender Malik Farrier inadvertently headed a long ball into his path.
Spicer (Trevor) would later go on to rue his team’s wasted opportunities.
“If we had scored our chances in the first half, it would not have been so hard for us,” Spicer told Wired868. “But we got about two or three chances and we missed [them] […] you have to score those chances.”
The St Augustine coach looked uneasy every time San Juan got a set piece. Although the bullish Boyce and Morris were omitted for disciplinary reasons, Moe’s Bourg outfit still had a fair bit of physicality and aerial presence.
In the 35th minute, the hosts got back on level terms when lanky central midfielder Jordan Britto fortuitously prodded home after skipper Kareem John drifted in a dangerous right-side corner.
In his post-match chat, coach Spicer said that San Juan appeared to bait referee Colin Syriac into awarding cheap free kicks. And truth be told, St Augustine did not seem to have an answer for the lofted set pieces offered up by the Bourg skipper. In the 43rd minute, San Juan bulged the old onion bag from another set piece.
“They were hitting it long all the time and they beat us on two set pieces,” said Spicer. “That’s their strong point. But to me, every time we touched them, they got a free kick. And that’s what they like.”
After left back Joshua Ambrose committed a needless foul on San Juan attacker Tyrique Sutherland near the right corner flag, John (Kareem) floated the ensuing free kick to the back stick where teammate Daniel Best rose highest to power a header past Ajahri Murrien in the St Augustine goal. Not only did Ambrose get a yellow card for his troubles, but his team was then 2-1 down and the momentum had shifted back to the hosts.
While Spicer and company struggled to find an answer for San Juan’s set piece threat, Moe was content to see his team digging deep and overturning the early deficit.
“I think we showed some character today when we went down 1-nil as we didn’t panic,” Moe said. “It’s actually the first time we have come from a goal down to win a game this season.”
Carrington, John (Jardel) and Spicer all looked threatening in the attacking third in the first half, while St Augustine central midfielder and skipper, Keil Morris, looked to have the right mixture of power and guile to navigate the slick conditions in Bourg.
The Green Machine seemed to lose some steam in the second half, though. For starters, Carrington and John (Jardel) swapped flanks. And while the diminutive John (Jardel) got some change out of San Juan right back Emmanuel Thomas, he got very little change out of his namesake Kareem on the other flank.
John (Kareem), who goes by the nickname, ‘Sound Boy’, was just the calming figure Moe and the San Juan faithful needed to see at the back. And with Carrington and Spicer (Tyrese) still showing signs of life on the attacking end, Sound Boy and his teammates tried their utmost to stifle their noise from their guests.
Moe sang the praises of his team’s rear guard.
“Defensively, if you look at the standings, I think only Presentation College [San Fernando] have conceded fewer goals than us. Defence hasn’t been a problem. We just haven’t been scoring enough goals,” Moe said.
In the 63rd minute, Carrington reminded San Juan of his presence when he fizzed a left-footed snap shot just wide of the mark after opposing central defender Elisha Garcia cleared a dangerous Spicer cross into his path.
Like their rivals San Juan, St Augustine have endured a topsy-turvy season to date, and are currently in eighth position with 13 points—four fewer than Moe’s charges. Spicer (Tyrese), has racked up 11 Premier Division goals thus far this season, which is second only to Kai Phillip’s league-leading tally of 13. The team’s overall goal haul of 26 is only bettered by Naparima College and St Anthony’s College, who are first and second in the standings respectively.
Spicer (Trevor) tried to explain his team’s inconsistent output this season.
“In our case, we didn’t have an Under-16, Under-14 or Under-13 team so there was no continuity. We are trying to build it up in steps again,” Spicer told Wired868.
Murrien, now a regular face between the sticks for St Augustine, did his best to keep his team in the contest with a couple of fine saves in the second period. In the 73rd minute, midfielder Jordan Britto, who assumed more control of the game in the second half alongside the gritty Kedell Jones, uncorked an absolute belter from just outside the area. However, a flying Murrien was equal to the task. And in the 88th minute, the visiting custodian came up big once more when he stopped a close-range effort by flanker Christon Mitchell.
Murrien’s exploits on one end left the door open for either Carrington or Spicer to pull something spectacular out of the hat on the other end.
Instead, the magician on the day turned out to be San Juan substitute, Kendo Matthias. With the game in the 90th minute, and Murrien stealing a few yards off his line, the attacker fell to his backside as he produced the most audacious and precise lob with the swing of his right boot from some 30-plus yards. With the proverbial nail being drilled into the coffin, the San Juan team swarmed a stunned Matthias as they turned back the Spicers and their fierce eastern rivals.
Elsewhere, St Anthony’s (26 points) were able to cut Naparima’s lead atop the Premier Division standings to three points by defeating Malick Secondary by a 4-1 margin at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
With only three rounds of matches left to play, the two teams rooted to the bottom of the table, St Mary’s College and Trinity College (Moka), must certainly be feeling the pressure. Both suffered their ninth loss of the season today, shipping five goals to Carapichaima East and East Mucurapo Secondary respectively. With six points separating the cellar placed schools from their nearest rivals, St Benedict’s College, it would take a near miracle for either of them to stay up now.
It has been done before, though.
In 2016, Benedict’s put a tumultuous season to bed when they beat the drop on a dramatic final day. Meanwhile, last season, CIC had a turnaround of their own as they put together an impressive run of games down the stretch to finish ninth, after a woeful start to the season put them in the early relegation discussion.
Carrington and Spicer (Tyrese) were instrumental in the Saints’ revival last season. However, the duo are saints of a different colour now.
Meanwhile, as St Mary’s and Trinity Moka confront must-win matches on 23 October, many will be focused the Presentation College v Naparima College showdown at Marabella.
Presentation (25 points) moved to within four points of arch-rivals, ‘Naps’, after nicking a 1-nil result against Trinity College (East) at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella. And with Naps looking to saunter to their fourth League title in six years, Shawn Cooper’s Presentation outfit will need to bag all three points to stop them.
No pressure, guys, no pressure.
San Juan North (4-4-2): 1.Emmanuel John (GK); 3.Emmanuel Thomas, 4.Elisha Garcia, 18.Malik Farrier, 17.Kareem John (captain); 13.Christon Mitchell, 20.Kedell Jones, 6.Jordan Britto, 11.Isaiah Chase; 7.Tyrique Sutherland (14.Kendo Matthias 69), 23.Daniel Best (8.Keanu John 77).
Unused Substitutes: 22.Kareem Rodriguez (GK), 5.Darion Thomas, 16.Emika Joseph, 21.Pharez Sutherland, 24.Larry Noel.
Coach: Jerry Moe
St Augustine Secondary (4-1-4-1): 1.Ajahri Murrien (GK); 25.Jael Ransome, 4.Cade Massy, 8.Kiel Lopez, 24.Joshua Ambrose; Keil Morris (captain); 19.Kyle Carrington, 21.Rivaldo Patron (17.Jayden Charles 72), 9.Dwight Jordan (12.Tyrik Trotman 61), 10.Jardel John; 16.Tyrese Spicer.
Unused Substitutes: 22.Tristan Edwards (GK), 7.Kerry Headly, 14.Oba Merritt, 15.Jordan Ferguson, 20.Jelani Peters.
Coach: Trevor Spicer
Referee: Colin Syriac
Wired868 Man of the Match: Kareem John (San Juan North Secondary)
SSFL Premier Division Results
Pleasantville Secondary 3 (Flex Lewis, Theon Marcano, Ephraim Browne), Speyside High School 1 (C’el Toppin) at Pleasantville;
St Mary’s College 0, Carapichaima East 5 (Isaiah Samuel 21, Brandon St Clair 34, 80, 90+1, Malik Robinson 45) at Serpentine Road;
Trinity College Moka 2 (Keishaughn Prider-Williams, Jaheim Marshall), East Mucurapo 5 (Zion McLeod , Jamali Alexis, Daniel David, Jahiem Patrick) at Moka;
St Benedict’s College 0, QRC 1 (Miguel Cross) 30 at Lewis Street;
Malick Secondary 1 (Tirrel Ramsahai), St Anthony’s College 4 (Zion Williams, Kai Phillip, Darius Douglas, Real Gill at Ato Boldon Stadium;
San Juan North 3 (Jordan Britto 35, Daniel Best 43, Kendo Matthias 90), St Augustine Secondary 1 (Kyle Carrington 13) at Bourg Mulatresse;
Presentation (San F’do) 1 (Jaiye Sheppard), Trinity College East 0 at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Naparima College are on a bye
(Wednesday 23 October)[All games kick off at 3.30pm]
QRC v Malick Secondary at QRC;
Presentation (San F’do) v Naparima College at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
San Juan North v St Anthony’s College at Bourg Mulatresse;
Carapichaima East v St Benedict’s College at Carapichaima;
East Mucurapo v St Mary’s College at Mucurapo Road;
St Augustine Secondary v Trinity Moka at St Augustine;
Pleasantville Secondary v Trinity East at Pleasantville;
Speyside Secondary are on a bye