Naparima College advanced to the final of the Secondary Schools Football League RBTT Inter-Col competition after edging St Augustine Senior Comprehensive 2-1 yesterday at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
The match promised a great deal, with the East and South zone Inter-Col champions facing off for a spot in the national final. Naparima took an early lead through an uncharacteristic mistake by Joel Johnson.
Johnson came off his line in an attempt to punch out a ball but collided with Oswald Wyllie. The ball rolled to Jason Johnson, who tapped it into a vacant net to give Naparima the lead with 10 minutes gone.
Play was unimpressive for most of the first half. The teams struggled in a scrappy midfield battle, no more than a two or three passes strung together before losing possession. An uneven patchy outfield did not lend itself to a great passing display.
The “Green Machine” was especially lethargic. Its midfielders, Vernell Ramirez, James Brown and Umar Prescott were ineffective against a “Naps” outfit that seemed to want the ball more.
Shandon Winchester should have doubled St Augustine’s troubles in the 20th minute. Johnson again mishandled a ball which squirted across the face of the goal. Winchester seemed to freeze as he watched the ball roll into touch. St Augustine narrowly escaped.
“Gustine” brought on “super-sub”‚ Daniel Joseph in the 39th minute, hoping he would add a spark to the “Green Machine”. However, its fans were shocked into silence when Isaiah Smith added a second goal in injury time.
The burly lad ran into the penalty area and rose above the crowd to meet a left-sided corner. His header nestled just inside of the first post, 2-0 Naparima. “Naps” took that lead into the locker room at the interval.
St Augustine came out in the second period with more purpose and constructive play.
Brandon Rupert replaced Ramirez in midfield and the “Green Machine” slowly rumbled to life.
“Gustine” created more chances. Joseph forced a low save out of Julian in the 52nd minute from a shot in the area. Paul and Rupert also made forays into the “Naps” third of the field.
Immanuel Alexander floated a free-kick into the 18 yard box, Julian came and missed but James brown met the ball at the back post to get his side on the score sheets, 2-1.
St Augustine was a shadow of the team that defeated Malick a few days ago. It could not carve out an equaliser against a resolute Naparima defence.
The match ended 2-1 in favour of Naparima which must face another east zone team, El Dorado senior Comprehensive, in next Tuesday’s final.