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Photo: Naparima College forward Isa Bramble (left) runs at the St Anthony’s College defence during SSFL action at Westmoorings on 9 October 2019. (Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-Images/Wired868)
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Na­pari­ma Col­lege strength­ened its chances of re­tain­ing the Pre­mier­ship Di­vi­sion ti­tle of the Sec­ondary Schools Foot­ball League (SS­FL) by de­liv­er­ing a lethal blow to hearts of St An­tho­ny's Col­lege Tigers 3-2 at West moor­ings on Wednes­day.

But Naps coach An­gus Eve said it was far from smooth sail­ing for them with arch-ri­vals Pre­sen­ta­tion Col­lege, among many teams that can­not be tak­en for grant­ed, still to play. The south­ern­ers have now moved to 23 points atop the stand­ings, while Pre­sen­ta­tion Col­lege takes sec­ond with a 3-1 tri­umph over St Au­gus­tine which took them to 19 points.

In an even­ly con­test­ed match in front of their home crowd, the Tigers set­tled quick­ly, pro­duc­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of at­trac­tive, flu­ent-pass­ing foot­ball that al­most earned them the open­ing goal in the sec­ond minute.

Jean-Heim Mc Fee was picked out un­marked in the cen­tre of the area, fol­low­ing a neat build-up on the right side, but his snap­shot just whisked past the Na­pari­ma goal.

How­ev­er, min­utes lat­er, the vis­i­tors felt they were robbed when de­fend­er Ian Cowie's at­tempt to clear the ball from a Naps' build-up struck his hands, but the ref­er­ee waved play-on in the face of scream­ing Na­pari­ma fans for a penal­ty.

The Tigers con­tin­ued to en­joy most of the ball in the min­utes that fol­lowed, but it was the vis­i­tors who took the lead in the 29th minute. From an­oth­er build-up down the left side, At­i­ba Lewis found him­self at the end of a neat­ly float­ed ball, but his one-time shot can­noned off a de­fend­er be­fore Shoaib Khan ri­fled the re­bound up in­to the roof of the St An­tho­ny's goal for a 1-0 ad­van­tage.

But their lead last­ed just four min­utes be­fore the Tigers equal­ized. From a cor­ner on the right side that ap­peared to have been over-hit, Dar­ius Dou­glas head­ed the ball back across the goal area for Randy An­toine to meet nice­ly on the head, a sec­ond time, past Levi Fer­nan­dez in the Na­pari­ma goal.

The team went to the half-time in­ter­val at one-apiece, but An­gus Eve's Naps was a changed side when the match re­sumed. Sev­en min­utes af­ter the restart, the vis­i­tors snatched the lead for yet an­oth­er time.

Isa Bram­ble, who taunt­ed the Tigers de­fend­ers for most of the first half, showed tremen­dous pace to reach Khan's through ball, and he skil­ful­ly lift­ed the ball over the on­rush­ing goal­keep­er Josi­ah Perez for a 2-1 lead.

The South­ern­ers then took con­trol of the match, for the first time, forc­ing the vi­cious Tigers to chase the ball for the ear­ly mo­ments. And out of noth­ing Bram­ble's pace help his team go two-goals up in the 58th minute.

The lanky winger was on to a loose ball in the St An­tho­ny's area in a flash, be­fore quick­ly re­leas­ing to Kodel Fron­tin, who lat­er found an un­marked Seon Ship­p­ley in the cen­tre. And with no one close­by, the lat­ter un­leashed a pow­er­ful low shot that beat the Perez low to the right side of his goal.

The Tigers did not give up and was re­ward­ed for their per­sis­tence late in the en­counter. Zion Williams, who had been a hand­ful for the Naps back­line all game long, de­liv­ered per­fect­ly in the 92nd minute for sub­sti­tute Je­lani King to head home. The Tigers then tried in vain for the equal­ize, but it was too late.

Mean­while, at Trin­i­ty East Ground in Arou­ca, Nathaniel James and Ja­heim Grander­son both scored braces to guide Queen's Roy­al Col­lege to a 4-1 vic­to­ry over the home team. And over at San Juan Ground, the home team rout­ed St Mary's Col­lege 7-0, cour­tesy a beaver-trick by Isa­iah Chase, and oth­er goals from Ma­lik Far­ri­er, Keanu John and Chris­ton Mitchell.

Over in To­ba­go, na­tion­al un­der-15 de­fend­er Keilon Bur­nette scored twice to lead his team to a 4-2 win over Spey­side. The oth­er scor­ers were Re­sean Brit­to and Josi­ah King.

(Teams - by wired868)

St Anthony’s College (3-5-2): 1.Josiah Perez (GK); 14.Randy Antoine, 16.Jordan Barclay, 5.Trent Weekes; 11.Kiron Manswell (20.Real Gill 67), 13.Quinn Frederick, 8.Jean-Heim McFee, 4.Ian Cowie, 9.Zion Williams; 25.Darius Douglas (3.Malachi Daniel 74), 7.Kaihim Thomas (18.Jelani King 85)

Unused Subs: 21.Kaiell George, 6.Shurland Augustine, 22.Dajeon Collingwood, 2.Timothy Brandel

Coach: Ronald Daniel

Naparima College (3-5-2): 1.Levi Fernandez (GK/Captain); 2.Thaj Neptune, 4.Tyrike Andrews, 12.Asukile Christopher, 15.Marvin Waldrop; 5.Atiba Lewis, 17.Nathaniel Perouse (13.Jabari Lee 86), 6.Shoaib Khan, 8.Kodel Frontin; 20.Seon Shippley (7.Mark Ramdeen 90 + 2), 19.Isa Bramble (18.Jaden McKree 90).

Unused Subs: 22.Regaleo Holder (GK), 9.Ezekiel Kesar, 14.Molik Khan, 16.Akil Johnson.

Coach: Angus Eve

Man of the Match: Isa Bramble (Naparima)

WEDNES­DAY'S RE­SULTS

Cara­pichaima 4 (Josi­ah King, Re­sean Brit­to, Keilon Bur­nette 2) vs Spey­side 2 (Jelanie James 38, Adriel George 56)

QRC 4 (Nathaniel James 2, Jahiem Grander­son) vs Trin­i­ty East 1 (Jemaul Asching)

Presentation (San F’do) 3 (Jaiye Sheppard [2], OG) vs St Augustine Secondary 1 (Tyrese Spicer) at Mannie Ramjohn

Mal­ick 1 (Jabari Williams) vs St Bene­dict's 1 (Ja­heim Joseph)

San Juan North 7 (Isa­iah Chase 4, Ma­lik Far­ri­er, Keanu John, Chris­ton Mitchell) vs CIC 0

East Mu­cu­rapo 3 (Daniel David, Je­lani Farary, Malachai Ce­les­tine) vs Pleas­antville 0

Naps 3 (Shoaib Khan, Isa Bram­ble, Seon Ship­p­ley) vs St An­tho­ny's 2 (Randy An­toine, Je­lani King)

Lat­est Stand­ings

SCHOOLS*P*W*L*D*GF*GA*GD*PTS
1*Na­pari­ma Col­lege*9*7*0*2*24*10*+14*23
2*Pre­sen­ta­tion Col­lege*8*6*1*1*24*6*+18*19
3*Cara­pichaima East Sec­ondary*8*5*0*3*16*9*+7*18
4*St. An­tho­ny's Col­lege*8*5*1*2*24*10*+14*17
5*East Mu­cu­rapo Sec­ondary*8*4*1*3*17*8*+9*15
6*Queen's Roy­al Col­lege*8*4*3*1*14*17*-3*13
7*San Juan North Sec­ondary*8*3*4*1*19*7*+12*10
8*Pleas­antville Sec­ondary*8*3*4*1*12*13*-1*10
9*Mal­ick Sec­ondary*9*3*5*1*15*18*-3*10
10*Trin­i­ty Col­lege East*8*2*5*2*13*18*-5*8
11*Spey­side High School*8*2*4*2*11*23*-12*8
12*St. Au­gus­tine Sec­ondary*8*1*3*4*15*16*-1*7
13*St. Bene­dict's Col­lege*8*2*5*1*8*16*-8*7
14*Trin­i­ty Col­lege, Mo­ka*8*1*6*1*8*27*-19*4
15*St. Mary's Col­lege*9*1*7*1*5*27*-22*4