Thu, Aug


It has taken Naparima College five years to get over the 6-0 mauling by St Anthony's College in the 2002 RBTT InterCol final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

With three goals in a span of 26 minutes, Naps may have done just that, in the end cruising to a comfortable 3-0 victory at the same venue and booking their place in Tuesday's BG T&T Secondary Schools Football League "Big Five" final.

Truth be told, the "Tigers" of Westmoorings lacked confidence, with some of their key players either missing in action or unable to make a meaningful contribution, through injury.

Most of the credit has to go to the South Zone champs, though, as they stuck almost flawlessly to a well-worked game plan.

Nigel Wright, Shahdon Winchester and Anthony Parris all struck the net from close range in the first half and with a three-goal deficit staring them in the face at half-time, the Tigers could not muster the strength for the uphill batte.

Even Naparima's rhythm section drowned out the sounds of St Anthony's own support and, in the end, they also had more to celebrate.

For the first ten minutes neither team settled, both trying to get a feel for each other. Wright had the earliest attempt at goal in the 11th, but shot over St Anthony's custodian Kevin Mussio's crossbar after controlling neatly at the edge of the penalty area. Skipper Uriah Bentick got his first try less than a minute later, firing just over from distance.

Naps then took full advantage of loose defending by their North Zone opponents, an unmarked Wright receiving wide on the left and, with time and space, he calmly picked his spot and beat the advancing Mussio.

The most innovative player in the Tigers attack was Emery Joyeau on the right flank, but he found little help up front. Mekel Williams headed wide for St Anthony's in the 28th and then striker Bradley Lawrence hit over from six metres soon after.

In the space of three minutes, the game was over as Naparima delivered the telling one-two combination. First, in the 38th, Winchester was picked out by Keston Smith and he obliged, heading the free kick past Mussio.

Parris was then given too much space on the left, raced past a defender and slotted under the onrushing goalkeeper.

The Tigers were desperate then and substituted a listless Bradley Lawrence for winger Micah Lewis, who never looked himself, having struggled with injury recently. Travis Joseph was the second substitution at half time, as St Anthony's tried to put more life into their attack.

Naps forte, however, is their defence and they neutralised everything which came their way.

The Southerners hung back to wait for the counterattack and shut down any attack from the wings, forcing St Anthony's to come through the centre. The closest they would come to goal was Bentick's right-footed drive in the 52nd, which forced Curtis Julien in Naps' goal to parry over.

The final whistle brought jubilant celebration for Naparima, who must now prepare for the winners of tomorrow's semi-final between East Zone champs San Juan Secondary Comprehensive and Tobago's Mason Hall Secondary. For a night, though, they can bask in the joy of a memorable win and at least ease some of the pain inflicted by the Tigers in 2002.