Hail Naparima College, champions of the Premier Division of the Shell/First Citizens 2018 Secondary Schools Football League, a title the southerners won after beating Trinity Moka 2-0 at Maraval yesterday, while fellow southerners Presentation College, the defending champions, was held 1-1 by San Juan in Bourg Mulatresse, San Juan.
Needing a victory to assure them a repeat of the title won last year, Presentation started firey at San Juan but could not get past a steady Emmanuel John in goal. After 16th minutes of play Aleem Barclay was set free but his blistering drive from just inside the area was acrobatically pushed wide by John, who won thunderous applause from the hundreds of fans that gathered at the venue.
And later on, John again sprang into action to prevent attempts by Jordan Riley, Ackeel Jacob and company from breaking the deadlock.
The teams went into the half-time interval knotted at 0-0, but on the resumption the players from both teams produced fireworks for the crowd that packed the venue. The home team came to life when Isaiah Chase found himself at the end of a loose ball that bounced nicely for him from an earlier attack, and with Presentation goalie Jabari Gray blinded in the midst of a crowded defence, Chase lashed powerfully inside the far post that gave Gray no chance as he looked on helplessly in the 59th minute.
The goal brought life and hope for a team that needed to win the encounter by six clear goals and while depending on Trinity Moka to beat Naparima College, for its chance to claim the title. But Jardel St Clair spoiled it for host when he took down a left-side cross nicely inside the box, and calmly slotted the ball past the advancing John for the equaliser in the 83rd minute and from then on Presentation pressed on for seven minutes to manufacture the winner which never came.
In Maraval, Naparima made sure of all three points and with San Juan's help, celebrated the championship. But before that Nathaniel Perouse fired the visitors into the lead in the 25th minute. And with Trinity Moka battling to improve their position on the standings, Jeron Pantor sealed the win in the 60th minute to spark wild celebrations among his teammates and supporters upon learning about the Bourg Mulatresse result.
Coach Angus Eve said he was humbled by the win, and dedicated it to all those who played instrumental roles in supporting the team, such as the teachers and other staff members, the old boys and particularly the players who have played unbeaten all season.
"We knew the pressure was on Presentation, as we knew that having played against San Juan in Bourg Mulatresse, it was always going to be difficult to beat them. Having said that, We knew also that Trinity Moka was no pushover either, so we had to do our part and win," Eve explained.
"All praises and glory to Almighty God, without whom we could not have achieved this. We will now turn our focus on the InterCol, which is a knock-out tournament and will be no easy one to win," Eve said.
Meanwhile, St Mary's College also survived relegation by defeating Trinity East 4-2 at home in St Clair. The 'Saints' as the school is called, needed just a draw to avoid going down, but the team got more than it bargained for with a double from Kyle Carrington, who scored in the 50th and 59th minutes, as well as goals from Michel Poon-Angeron and Tyrese Spicer, to secure all three points and a comfortable 4-2 victory in the end.
Easterners Valencia, the only team to confirm St Mary's relegation needed to beat Fatima by 11 goals. But the team failed to achieve its objective as Fatima won 3-2. The result meant Valencia, Bishop's Tobago and Fatima have been demoted to the Championship Division for the 2019 season.
QRC 1 vs Carapichaima 1
Valencia 2 (Dwight Yorke 33rd, 79th) vs Fatima 3 (Mikhail Mc Commie 2nd, Luke Darwent 52nd, 53rd)
St Mary's 4 (Michel Poon-Angeron 7th, Kyle Carrington 50th, 59th) vs Trinity East 2 (J Mc Kree 9th, 20th)
East Mucurapo 2 (Daniel David 4th, Malachai 61st) vs St Anthony's 0
San Juan 1 (Isaiah Chase 59th) vs Presentation 1 (Jardel St Clair)
Naparima 2 (Nathaniel Perouse 25th, Jeron Pantor) vs Trinity Moka 0
2018 Final Premier Division Standing