Neil Gerard Mitchell scored on debut to give his new side MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers and new head coach Adrian Roman a 1-0 victory over Morvant Caledonia United on Sunday at the St. Augustine Senior Secondary School Ground.
The narrow result which puts bottom-of-the-table Rangers level on 7 points with Morvant Caledonia and Police FC, also put to rest a haunting 5-1 loss the St. Ann’s club suffered against current Pro League leaders W Connection at the same venue in their previous outing on August 14.
Since then assistant coach Romain has been promoted as head coach while his predecessor Anthony Streete, who led the side off the bottom of the table last season, will continue to serve on as assistant coach.
Mitchell, with his first top flight goal since January 2016 in a 2-2 draw for former club North East Stars against San Juan Jabloteh, handed Rangers victory by putting a low drive off the post to find the back of Morvant Caledonia goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel’s net in the 78th minute to redeem himself after hitting the upright in the first half.
Rangers’ substitute and MIC-IT student, Jabari Mayers, had played Mitchell on goal but the former Trinidad and Tobago youth midfielder, after rounding Samuel, failed to find the exposed net just over the half-hour mark.
Mayers himself was twice guilty of wasting on excellent scoring opportunities. The lanky attacker struck over back off a perfect cross from Hakim Baird, another MIC-IT student, in the 37th minute. Then three minutes from the break Mayers struck the side netting with only Samuel to beat after he was set free behind the defence by Baird.
Morvant Caledonia also had their chances but overlooked Trinidad and Tobago international and Rangers shot-stopper Cleon John stood in the way of Guyana international Sheldon Holder twice in the second half.
New Morvant Caledonia signing Sedale Mc Lean failed to punish his former club thanks to another save by John midway through the second half and Lester Joseph was unable to convert the rebound.
Jason Spence, administrative manager of the Rangers, insisted that changes in the coaching department was not a result of the heavy defeat against Connection. He instead pointed to the involvement of MIC-IT – a partnership forged between the Pro League club and the technical and vocational institution earlier this year.
“All parties, including Adrian (Romain), (Anthony) Streete and the Directors of the club, were involved in the changes,” said Spence.
Romain, 28, a former Morvant Caledonia and Rangers team administrator, now stands the youngest head coach in the Pro League – a status previously held by current North East Stars head coach Derek King, 37. King however, still holds the record as the youngest coach to win the Pro League title, doing so in 2009 in charge of the now defunct Joe Public at age 29.
Romain, an ex-assistant coach to former San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC league-winning coach Terry Fenwick, had coaching stints at El Dorado Secondary School, Trinity College East and MIC-IT, and is the current coach of St. Augustine Secondary School "Green Machine".
Romain barely occupied his bench on Sunday, and to his right was an equally anxious Abdallah Philiip, the Morvant Caledonia assistant coach eager to take over the reign from head coach Jamaal Shabazz. But with both sides desperate for points, relief came Romain’s way at the final blow of referee Gordon Maloney’s whistle.
Romain said he was proud of his players and that he intends to work on discipline and structure in his team’s play. He said he was happy to get the first game out of the way.
“We also need to develop the manner to keep our lead,” he added. “…because at times, for the past few games, we’ve had leads and let it slip. It’s a tough job but I’m taking it one game at a time.”
Rangers, according to Spence, are unable to cover salaries due to the absence of Government subvention. The Rangers’ team manager said some players play for free, with some tasked with finding day jobs while others, who are under the age of 25, are encouraged to join MIC-IT.
“But on the flip side it’s beneficial to the MIC-IT programme,” explained Romain. “(…) because we have a number of number of kids enrolling in tertiary education where they have the opportunity to join HYPE and MuST programmes. That’s the direction of the club decided to go—that’s what the agreement with MIC-IT is about.
“You will be seeing more student-athletes in the professional league, instead of just professionals. It’s a financial struggle for all clubs right now our guys are working hard, and if we continue to get results like today, sponsors will come on board,” ended the new Rangers coach.
Ann's Rangers 1 (Neil Gerard Mitchell 78') vs Morvant Caledonia United 0, at St. Augustine Senior Secondary School Ground.
MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers: 1.Cleon John (GK) (Capt.), 3.Kareem Eastman, 4.Shane Sandy, 6.Omari Lezama, 7.Neil Mitchell, 11.Kazim Donald (14.Xae-Pierre De Fou 64th minute), 15.Keshawn Hutchinson, 17.Hakim Baird, 19.Anslem Jackson, 21.Micah Lansiquot, 23.Kathon St. Hillaire (26.Jabari Mayers 34th minute) (18.Kristian Maloney 75th minute).
Unused substitutes: 25.Nathan Fergus (GK); 2.Keon Figaro, 31.Malique Gumbs, 45.Alexis Blackwell.
Coach: Adrian Romain
Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 6.Taje Commissiong, 9.Sedale Mc Lean, 10.Sheldon Holder, 11.Quincy Ballah (22.Joshua Alexander 61st minute), 12.Kareem Joseph (Capt.), 14.Simeon Bailey, 15.Otev Lawrence, 18.Maestro Mensah, 23.Lester Joseph (26.Ralph Parris 72nd minute), 29.Kelsey Benjamin (17.Kerry Daniel 46th minute).
Unused substitutes: 31.De Journ Cahrles (GK), 5.Joshua Sylvester, 8.Anthony Charles, 13.Rufuson Pierre Louis.
Coach: Jamaal Shabazz
Match Referee: Gordon Maloney
San Juan Jabloteh vs North East Stars, 5pm, Barataria Oval Recreation Ground;
Police FC vs Central FC, 5pm, Police Barracks