Intercol 19: Stoppage time Sinclair strike gifts Presentation first National Intercol title in 44 years

Call him the super sub. Presentation College San Fernando striker Jardel Sinclair came off the bench to deliver his school’s first National Intercol final win since 1975. Sinclair, who also came off the bench to convert a clinical penalty against Naparima College in the South Intercol final, did the trick today once more.

In the third minute of second-half stoppage time, he prodded home a low, right-side Nkosi Charles cross, giving the ‘Pres Lions’ a 2-1 win and sending his teammates into pandemonium.

Photo: Presentation (San F’do) attacker Jardel Sinclair (bottom) is congratulated by teammates after his match winning goal against San Juan North in the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Shortly after Sinclair’s timely finish, tempers flared near the touchline as Pres’ Ackeel ‘Hulk’ Jacob and San Juan defender Elisha Garcia exchanged shoves. Players from both teams joined in the melee, and when the dust cleared, Garcia, Hulk and Presentation centre back Justin Cornwall were all given their marching orders by referee Crystal Sobers.

It was only a minor blip in Presentation’s crowning night, though.

Throughout the 2019 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) season, Presentation coach Shawn Cooper lamented that this was a building year for his youthful outfit. But tonight, in the words of Cooper, those cubs grew into lions and are now roaring loudest in the jungle.

“We are feeling elated. We worked hard to be here, and in fact, nobody expected us to be here,” a pumped Cooper said.

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He added: “Last year we missed out on the Premier Division, this year we missed out on the Premier Division. But I’ll take the National Intercol every time because this is one title that has eluded Presentation since I have been here. We won the Premier Division and the Big Five and now we have the Intercol. Now I think the trophy cabinet is full.”

In 2016, these very two teams met in the National Intercol final. But on that occasion, a Brandon Semper goal sullied Presentation and sunk their hearts. Coach Jerry Moe and the Bourg Mulatresse faithful were hoping for some déjà vu, but tonight they fell in their third straight National Intercol final loss.

It is not the kind of hat-trick they would have liked. But Cooper, Sinclair and company would not mind; they have been waiting 45 years to get back this feeling.

That mixed feeling of jubilation and relief wasn’t always a certainty for Presentation, though, as San Juan’s hard-working wide man, Isaiah Chase, opened the scoring with a low drive from just inside the area with exactly one minute and 56 seconds on Sobers’ clock.

Known for a defensive, rugged and bullish approach, Chase’s opening item played right into Moe’s plans. Much as they did in the 2016 finale, San Juan could set up the ‘Bourg Wall’ and dare Presentation to break them down.

Photo: San Juan North Secondary winger Isaiah Chase (second from right) celebrates after giving his team an early lead during their National Intercol final contest against Presentation (San F’do) at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Three years ago, Moe was able to rely on the no-nonsense nature of centre half Kyle Thomas, the guile and grit of central midfielder Nathaniel Perouse—a National Intercol winner with both San Juan and Naparima College—and the brute power of striker Renaldo Boyce.

Now aged 20, it’s fair to say that Boyce hasn’t been able to replicate the form he showed in that sterling 2016 season. And barring a speculative 24th-minute long-range effort, which boomed over the bar of Isaiah ‘Blinky’ Williams, Boyce didn’t ooze the same confidence as the man who took a 10-man San Juan outfit into the National Intercol final on the back of a magnificent beaver-trick against Trinity College Moka some three years ago.

Still, Moe felt as though his charges executed his game plan up to a point.

“Overall I think we did well. We stuck to the game plan,” Moe told Wired868. “We made simple errors in possession and so on, and we were sloppy on the ball. But that’s youth football. You’re going to get that.”

There was nothing sloppy about the response conjured up by Presentation in the 19th minute, though. Presentation’s equalising item was so sweet that goal-scorer Jaiye Sheppard strummed his imaginary violin in front of the San Juan bench.

Photo: Presentation (San F’do) defender Luke Charles (centre) beats San Juan North captain Renaldo Boyce to an aerial ball during the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Two minutes prior, Sheppard headed a cross from lanky defender Luke Charles just wide of Emmanuel John’s upright. On this occasion, there was no let-up for Bourg.

Williams initiated a Presentation counter after smothering a wayward corner from San Juan’s Kareem John. And there was no stopping Sheppard and Hulk. The duo worked a slick one-two in the attacking third, and the diminutive forward glided home from close range after Hulk played a delightful pass from the left.

One apiece in the National Intercol final inside the first 20 minutes.

If you were looking to appease your appetite by the concession stands, you would have missed a rollicking start.

Cooper admitted that Chase’s early item forced his boys to open up the game.

“They scored early and that essentially turned it into a final worth watching,” Cooper said. “In scoring early, we had to come out. We scored a beautiful goal in the first half and then we settled down and started to play.”

Photo: San Juan North Secondary goalkeeper Emmanuel John (centre) punches the ball away from Presentation (San F’do) attacker Jaiye Sheppard during the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

For one, Sheppard was doing his utmost to influence the game, and he fought gamely against San Juan’s towering centre half pairing of Garcia and Malik Farrier. Though appearing vertically inclined when in the vicinity of the San Juan duo, Sheppard held up the ball well and often dropped deep to link up play with either Hulk or skipper Aleem Barclay.

In the 36th minute, Sheppard gave the San Juan faithful a few added palpitations when he hit an instinctive volley just wide of the mark following a left-side Naeem Bisnath cross.

Presentation started the second half with the same vigour with which they ended the first, and Bisnath blazed over bar at the far post at the end of another flowing move, involving both Hulk and Sheppard. The dangerous attacking duo exchanged some cold stares in the 55th minute, though, as Sheppard failed to pass to an unmarked Hulk after profiting from a loose touch by Farrier in the penalty area.

Moe sensed the danger.

“Pres played the ball around well. They played with some discipline,” he said. “I felt as though my two midfielders allowed them to play too much, but I think we corrected that in the second half.”

Photo: San Juan North Secondary flanker Christon Mitchell (right) darts between Presentation (San F’do) opponents Nigel Caraby and Dantaye Gilbert during the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Barclay, who Cooper labelled the ‘engine room’ and identified as his personal choice for Pres’ MVP, tried to dictate the tempo of the game from his midfield base. While Barclay was tidy in possession, Hulk, Sheppard and speedy winger Adica Ash were the ones looking threatening further afield.

In the 68th minute, Presentation midfielder Dantaye Gilbert sent a volley over the bar from inside the area after Hulk measured his chipped pass to a tee.

Hulk was fortunate not to have entered Sobers’ book two minutes later when he chopped down the lively Christon Mitchell in the defensive third. Mitchell exited proceedings just a few minutes later and Presentation fans would have been glad to see his back since the San Juan winger gave the opposing wing backs a tough time of it with his pace and trickery.

While Moe was forced to reshuffle his pack, Cooper looked to play a hand that would turn the contest and alter Presentation’s National Intercol history.

“We made a tactical adjustment by putting Sheppard to the left side, Nkosi Charles to the right and we put Jardel Sinclair on top,” Cooper said. “And the two substitutes linked up and they got the ball in the back of the net. And it’s history. It was well planned and I think we caught them off guard.”

Photo: Presentation College (San F’do) flanker Jaiye Sheppard (right) lines up a shot during their National Intercol final contest with San Juan North Secondary at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Against Naparima in the South Intercol final last Monday, Sinclair was on the field for all of four minutes before pumping a confident penalty past Naps skipper Levi Fernandez. Tonight, Sinclair took some eight minutes before finding the magical touch, but it was well worth the wait—a 44-year wait!

Sinclair appears to thrive in these pressure moments, and when he turned home Charles’ (Nkosi) precise cross, he let out a roar that could not come from a fledgeling cub; it was a Pres Lion.

In 2016, Moe and San Juan were revelling after their triumph. But on this occasion, Cooper’s charges had the final say.

Four National Intercol finals in a row, three National Intercol final losses in a row. Spare a thought for San Juan North and Jerry Moe.

“We would have loved to break the duck. I want to win every game,” Moe said. “Not because it’s Presentation and we beat them the last time. Today we just came up short. They scored so late in the game that we really couldn’t muster a response.”

Photo: SSFL ambassador and 2006 World Cup hero Shaka Hislop embraces San Juan North goalkeeper Emmanuel John after the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
Presentation (San F’do) won the trophy after a 2-1 win.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Moe added: “Congratulations to Pres, and we’ll just go back and come again.”

In 2016, San Juan took the National Intercol title out of their grasps. In 2018, San Juan halted their back-to-back Premier Division title quest in an enthralling draw on the final day of the season.

And in 2019?

San Juan couldn’t topple Presentation College San Fernando as super-sub Jardel Sinclair swooped in and saved the day.

“This season really couldn’t be better,” Cooper said. “It was expected that once Naparima were out of the way that we’d take up the mantle. And we did so.”

The 44-year wait is over.

Ain’t nobody better than Pres!

Sing the refrain.

Photo: Presentation College (San F’do) supporters get behind their team during their National Intercol final contest against San Juan North at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)


San Juan North Secondary (4-4-2): 1.Emmanuel John (GK); 19.Adrian Duncan, 4.Elisha Garcia (red card) 18.Malik Farrier, 17.Kareem John; 13.Christon Mitchell (23.Daniel Best 74), 8.Keanu John, 6.Jordan Britto, 11.Isaiah Chase; 10.Jerry Morris (7.Tyrique Sutherland 68), 9.Renaldo Boyce (captain).

Unused Substitutes: 22.Kareem Rodriguez (GK), 5.Darion Thomas, 14.Kendo Matthias, 20.Dedell Jones, 21.Pharez  Sutherland.

Coach: Jerry Moe

Presentation College San Fernando (4-4-1-1): 1.Isaiah Williams (GK); 2.Nigel Caraby, 3.Luke Charles, 5.Justin Cornwall (red card), 6.Zion Allen; 13.Dantaye Gilbert, 15.Aleem Barclay (captain); 11.Adica Ash (16.Jardel Sinclair 85), 10.Ackeel Jacob (red card), 20.Naeem Bisnath (17.Nkosi Charles 79); 9.Jaiye Sheppard.

Unused Substitutes: 22.Kanye Lazarus (GK), 7.Acelino Medford, 12.Markus Mason, 14.Kassidy Davidson, 19.Shakeem Cooper.

Coach: Shawn Cooper

Referee: Crystal Sobers

Wired868 Man of the Match: Jaiye Sheppard

Photo: Presentation College (San F’do) coach Shawn Cooper (left) and school principal Dexter Mitchell hold the National Intercol trophy after their 2-1 win over San Juan North at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

National Intercol Final

(Wednesday 4 December)

Presentation College San Fernando 2 (Jaiye Sheppard 19, Jardel Sinclair 90+3), San Juan North Secondary 1 (Isaiah Chase 2) at Ato Boldon Stadium.

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