Newcomers to the Premier Division of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Valencia Secondary received a baptism of fire in its opening match yesterday at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, going down 0-3 to an experienced and well-oiled machine in San Juan North Secondary in the first game of a doubleheader.
Isaiah Chase, Jerry Morris and the prolific Renaldo Boyce all beat Valencia custodian Ezekiel De Souza will brilliant strikes, but it was more the team's combined efforts that stood out, coupled with the inexperience of the Valencia players, all whom held the ball for unnecessarily long periods that often landed them in problems.
The game was just 15 minutes old when Chase broke the Valencia off-side trap and galloped on to a through ball before lobbing an onrushing De Souza for the opener. San Juan, the dethroned Coca Cola InterCol champions in 2017, showed their experience by keeping the ball for long periods and launching strategic attacks which led to its second goal.
Striker Morris, who taunted the Valencia defence in the early moments, was later gifted his goal when defender Jerome Arrindell fumbled the ball in the back and allowed Morris to race clear of the defence on the right side before firing powerfully past De Souza to the far post in the 27th minute.
Despite the inexperience of its players, however, Valencia had only itself to blame as players seem more concerned with self-glory, failing to release the ball in-spite of nearby support. Otherwise, they may well have a team to trouble their opponents this season.
Striker Dwight Yorke, one of just a few players in the Valencia roster with star-studded names, showed why the easterners can be a potential threat when he was picked out unmarked outside the San Juan area. The talented striker eluded two defenders on his way to goal but found himself on his unfavoured right foot and fired a tame shot that did not trouble the San Juan goalie.
San Juan went to the break with a comfortable 2-0 advantage but when the match resumed, they received a scare when Yorke's long-range shot cannoned off the crossbar before bouncing to safety.
San Juan could have put the game beyond their opponents reach, as they created a number of chances that went a begging.
They eventually sealed the win in the 72nd minute. Boyce, the school's leading striker last year, powered his way past two markers in the centre of the pitch, before his blistering low drive flew past De Souza for maximum points in the game.
The featured match between St Benedict's College and Trinity College east ended in a goal-less draw.