Fri, Sep

No goal: CIC’s captain, Kyle Phillip, slips before shooting at a relieved Naparima College goalie, Tyrece Romain, in the first half of their Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) premier division match at St Mary’s College Ground, Serpentine Road, St Clair on Saturday, September 16th 2023. The match ended 3-2 in Naps’ favour. —Photo: ROBERT TAYLOR

NAPARIMA College completed their second consecutive victory of the 2023 Secondary Schools Football League season, when defeating St Mary’s College 3-2, but had to fight all the way under a scorching sun on a bumpy surface on Serpentine Road.

Naparima now join San Juan North Secondary, Fatima College and East Mucurapo Secondary as the only teams that have won their opening two matches in the new Premier Division season.

Yesterday’s action began slowly but heated up appreciably as the first half wore on. Naparima had early dominance, but it was St Mary’s having the best two opportunities, with captain Kyle Phillip not taking good opportunities on the break.

Having survived the early pressure, St Mary’s spectacularly took the lead in the 38th minute, with Ryan Radellant cutting in and curling a powerful shot to the far corner of the net for a 1-0 advantage.

Naparima would respond, and emphatically so, by scoring twice within the final five minutes of the opening half. Jaron Pascal matched Radellant for style and produced a similar quality goal when finding the far corner to level at 1-1, and soon after, Akiel Vesprey showed some good footwork and poked a low shot past goalkeeper Jabali Doyle, giving the visitors a 2-1 half-time lead.

St Mary’s came close early in the second half with Dusan Cooper planting his shot onto a post, following a good flank run and cross by Elijah Wong. Naparima took advantage of the reprieve by further extending their lead to 3-1 in the 57th minute. A hat-trick scorer against Chaguanas North, Kanye Francis came on as a substitute and scored by finishing off a one-two combination with team-mate Jabari Forbes.

And Francis could have gotten another from the penalty spot, after he was brought down in the 80th minute while in the act of shooting. But he hit straight at goalkeeper Jabali Doyle. Francis’ miss gave St Mary’s the chance to rally when Phillip blasted in the ball from Darius Humphrey’s long free-kick for 3-2 in the 84th minute, thus setting up a tense final stage.

“I though a draw might have been a better result, but we played pretty well,” stated CIC coach Michael Grayson afterwards.

“You have to give credit to CIC, they battled to the end,” stated victorious Naparima coach Travis Mulraine, who explained that overcoming complacency is one of his greatest challenges with Naparima.

“I think that this result is a blessing in disguise, because coming off a 10-0 victory, guys can get complacent. And I think this is my biggest challenge this year, to battle that complacency.”

Yesterday’s scores:

• St Benedict’s College 0 East Mucurapo Secondary 1 (Gerome Gulston)

• St Mary’s College 2 (Ryan Radellant, Kyle Phillip) Naparima College 3 (Jaron Pascal, Akiel Vesprey, Kanye Francis)

• San Juan North Secondary  5 (Jaheem Danclair, Lindell Sween, Nathan Quashie, Joshua Lewis (pen), o.g) Pleasantville Secondary 0

• Speyside Secondary 0 Fatima College 1 (Aidan De Gannes)

• Queen’s Royal College 1 (Stephan James) St Anthony’s 0

• Presentation College 1 (Adah Barclay) Malick Secondary 0

• Bishop’s High School 0 Chaguanas North Secondary 1 (Nekayse Moore)

• Arima North 1 (Jemaul Ashing) Trinity East 1 (Deisean Plaza)

SOURCE: T&T Express