Naparima College and San Juan North Secondary maintained their perfect starts in the 2023 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division after fifth round matches were contested on Wednesday.
Naparima, San Juan and Fatima College each entered Wednesday’s action with identical records of four wins from as many matches.
Naparima whipped Malick Secondary 3-0 at Lewis Street in San Fernando and San Juan ended Arima North Secondary’s 22-match unbeaten run with a comfortable 1-0 win at the Arima Velodrome.
Fatima, in front of their home fans at their school ground, in Mucurapo, were held to a goalless draw by St Benedict’s College.
Naparima stayed top of the 16-team standings, with San Juan moving one notch to second, as Fatima slipped to third place.
The biggest movers on the day were St Anthony’s College, who leapt from ninth to fourth after trouncing their hosts Chaguanas North Secondary 10-1 at the Edinburgh 500 Ground.
St Mary’s College climbed three places to ninth after defeating East Mucurapo Secondary 3-2 at the St Mary’s Ground in St Clair while Bishop’s High registered their first victory of the season, courtesy of a 1-0 result away to QRC in St Clair.
Speyside High and Presentation College (San Fernando) drew 1-1 at the Speyside Recreation Ground and Pleasantville Secondary earned their first point this season, with a 2-2 draw against fellow struggles Trinity College East at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
At the Arima Velodrome, San Juan striker Jaheem Danclar capitalized on a goalkeeping blunder from Isaiah Diaz, on the stroke of halftime, to get past their hosts.
On an uneven surface, San Juan twice saw chances rebound off the uprights, but the Jerry Moe-coached outfit showed more desire and purpose, especially in the first half, to claim all three points.
Central midfielder Nathan Quashie created the first chance of note, after nine minutes, when he intercepted a bad pass from Arima’s Theron O’Brien, made a run down the middle and unleashed a right-footed shot which smashed off the crossbar, with Diaz rooted to the spot.
Trinidad and Tobago youth team striker Lindell Sween, moments later, took the opportunity to run at the Arima backline before sending an aerial ball to Jadiel Joseph, whose header was cleared by Arima defender Jeremy Joseph.
Another defensive lapse by Arima nearly proved costly, this time in the 22nd minute. Criston Gomez, playing as an inverted right-back, failed to control a pass from centre-back Stephen Ollivierie and San Juan looked to take advantage. However, Danclar’s left-footed effort was pushed onto the post by Diaz.
Eventually, the pressure proved too much to bear for Arima, as they conceded a freekick in first-half stoppage time. Jadiel Joseph teed up Sween, who drilled a left-footed shot which was badly handled by Diaz, and a lurking Danclar headed the ball into the open net.
Arima had a couple opportunities in the second half, to restore parity, both courtesy of their burly central midfielder Darian Marfan.
In the 56th, Marfan, who was the team’s dead-ball specialist, powered his freekick inches overbar and, 14 minutes later, he collected a loose ball and blasted a left-footed drive which just cleared the bar of San Juan goalkeeper Xavion Haynes.
In a post-game interview on Sportsmax, San Juan North coach Jerry Moe said: “I thought it was a good tactical game. Arima did a lot of switching, in terms of their formations. At times it was effective but we defended well.”
Central defender Jaheshua Ferguson was replaced by Michael Hemlee in the 43rd due to an injury, which forced Quashie to drop back into a more defensive role.
“We were solid—Quashie did very well as a stopper,” said Moe. “(Centre-back) Kent Guy did very well and, hopefully, they get the confidence going forward.”
Wayne Sheppard, Arima’s coach, bemoaned the lack of energy shown by his team, particularly in the first half.
“[San Juan] came with a particular plan and they carried it out,” he said. “I thought we played too slow, the tempo was incorrect. We needed to play at a quicker tempo, to move them into bad positions.
“[…] The second half was a little better but the tempo wasn’t right today.”
Arima North (4-2-3-1): 1.Isaiah Diaz (GK); 3.Criston Gomez, 22.Stephen Ollivierie, 5.Akil Henry, 6.Jeremy Joseph (20.Tony Figuera 59th); 13.Theron O’Brien, 16.Ability Hazel, 11.Stephano Christopher (18.Zion Metivier 80th), 17.Jemaul Ashing (captain) (7.Mark Thomas 66th), 10.Darian Marfan (15.Darren De Four 90th); 9.Tyrell Stapleton.
Unused substitutes: 12.Josiah Thomas (GK), 4.Garrick Thomas, 19.O’Neil Dyer, 29.Jaydon Critchlow, 30.Tyler Ayers, 31.Mathias Cruickshank.
Coach: Wayne Sheppard
San Juan North (4-4-2): 1.Xavion Haynes (GK); 14.Desailly Lewis (captain), 15.Kent Guy, 6.Jaheshua Ferguson (12.Michael Hemlee 43rd), 5.Hakeem Bartholomew; 11.Jadiel Joseph, 8.Nathan Quashie, 19.Daniel Lewis, 7.Elizsha Rogers (20.David Lewis 67th); 21.Jaheem Danclar (17.Jahdel Chase-Charles 74th), 10.Lindell Sween.
Unused substitutes: 30.Stephon Langaigne (GK), 3.Michael Greenaway, 16.Isaiah Audain, 23.Michel Baptiste.
Coach: Jerry Moe
SSFL Premier Division results
(Wednesday 27 September)
Arima North 0, San Juan North 1 (Jaheem Danclar 45+1) at Arima Velodrome;
Speyside High 1 (Lenox Eastman), Presentation (San F’do) 1 (Abayomi George) at Speyside Recreation Ground;
Fatima College 0, St Benedict’s College 0 at Fatima Ground;
Chaguanas North 1 (Negaste Moore), St Anthony’s College 10 (Aalon Wilson-Wright , Andell Fraser , Theo Cravador , Jean-Marc Thomas , Mordecai Ford) at Edinburgh 500;
Naparima College 3 (Jaron Pascall 38 pen, Jkwon Bailey 45+3, Tevin Pantor 77), Malick Secondary 0 at Lewis Street;
Pleasantville Secondary 2 (Kelon Williams ), Trinity East 2 (Hasheem Hill, Seretse Browne) at Manny Ramjohn Stadium;
QRC 0, Bishop’s High 1 (Kaieem Lewis) at QRC Ground;
St Mary’s College 3 (Ryan Radellant, Kyle Phillip, Aadil Abdul Hakeem), East Mucurapo 2 (Clint Lutchman, Maalik Jarvis) at Serpentine Road.
2023 SSFL Premier Division
(Saturday 30 September)
Trinity East vs Malick Secondary, Trincity, 3.30pm;
St Mary’s College vs QRC, Serpentine Road, 4pm;
St Benedict’s College vs St Anthony’s College, Mahaica Oval, 4pm;
San Juan North vs Fatima College, Bourg Mulatresse, 4pm;
Arima North vs Naparima College, UTT, O’meara, 4pm;
East Mucurapo vs Chaguanas North, Fatima Ground, 4pm;
Pleasantville Secondary vs Speyside High, Manny Ramjohn Stadium training field, 4pm;
Presentation (San F’do) vs Bishop’s High, Manny Ramjohn Stadium, 4pm.