Inspired by a hat-trick from top striker Brandon Benjamin, Speyside Secondary cruised into the semifinal of the Coca-Cola National InterCol competition with a 4-0 win over Central Zone Chaguanas North Secondary, at Shaw Park, Tobago, on Monday.
Chaguanas, which ended the match with 10 players with the late ejection of Jaeel Jeffrey, was virtually out of the contest by the mid-way mark in the first half, at which point Speyside already held a two-goal advantage. With the win in the bag after Benjamin completed his hat-trick in the 49th minute, Roldon Kerr added the icing on the cake with a strike deep into time added on.
The win for the two-time reigning Tobago InterCol champion epitomized another successful campaign, which included the successful capture of the league title with two matches to spare. Speyside added to its accolades with 4-2 triumph over league runner-up Mason Hall in the final.
That after whipping Goodwood 12-0 in the quarterfinal and defeating Signal Hill on penalties in the semifinals. It now stands two wins away from the National InterCol title.
Speaking after the massive win, Speyside coach Dwayne Jack said he has not seen his next opponent, Fatima College yet this season. The two teams are carded to clash in the second National InterCol semifinal at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, on Friday.
“Even though we didn’t see them, we have to go back to the drawing board as we have work to do in our midfield,” said Jack. “We haven’t played too well (in that department) today (Monday). We want to make that area of the field work hard enough because without the midfield, we won’t make it,” said Jack.
“The difference today was that the guys knew where they went wrong. And, the staff knew where they went wrong. We even trained yesterday in Charlotteville, and they did well yesterday. Now we knew today that we could do better in the middle of the field.
Plus, we played too deep in deep in the past games.” Jack had praise for Weah Adams, a reliable attacker, who he said “showed up” for the match.
“Today, he played well. He’s a national player. I spoke to him about it. I said, ‘You’re a national player, you have to do well every game,’ and today he carried out all the instructions. He did well. That was good,” he said.
Speaking on his half-time instructions to the players, Jack said, “I told the players don’t be cocky because of the two goals. We have to go back out and score more goals.” While the Tobago champion, Speyside, has not had a sight of its North Zone opponent for Friday’s semifinal, Fatima College did its homework in attending Monday’s quarterfinal.
Fatima’s assistant coach Russell Sutton, who was in Shaw Park said he witnessed a very physical team with some quick players, noting Adams as a player to watch. However, he said his Fatima team, which rallied from a slow start to the season, fears no one after recording massive upsets in recent matches.
Last Thursday, Fatima, which narrowly finished fourth in the league, played to a 2-2 draw with East Mucurapo, before taking the match 4-2 on kicks from the penalty spot in the InterCol North Zone final.
The Hasely Crawford Stadium, which was flocked with Fatima supporters, burst into jubilation after the final kick after edging a team it had not beaten for over six years. Ironically, the win followed a semifinal victory against league champion St Mary’s College, also on penalty kicks after a draw.
The assistant coach, however, said while Fatima will enter the match bravely, his team will not take Speyside for granted. Sutton, who credited head coach Richard Hood for the team’s turn-around said the team, despite suffering some set-backs, did not play to its true potential.
One of the massive blows suffered by Fatima College was the injury to Jason Mendez, a player who transferred from St Mary’s College after last season. Mendez, a central defender was injured in the first league match against St Anthony’s College, ruling him out for the remainder of the season. Other than the omission of Mendez, the team is without any injuries apart from “a couple knocks”.
Sutton added, “We have had a squad of 18 players, making it difficult to make the necessary changes to our line-up. Many of our players have not played outside of the SSFL.”
“But,” he continued, “I wouldn’t say we were unlucky. We just did not play to our best potential. This run came down to confidence. Fatima last won the National InterCol competition in 2005, and eight years later, Sutton believes it is the team’s time again. “We will win it. We fear no one.”
Monday’s InterCol Quarterfinal Result
Speyside High 4 (Brandon Benjamin 17th, 19th, 49th, Roldon Kerr 90th+3) v Chaguanas North 0
Friday, National InterCol Semifinals
Princes Town (South) v St Augustine (East), 3.30 pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo
Fatima College (North) v Speyside (Tobago), 5.30 pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo