Naps vs El Do 'Big 4' Final

Shaun Fuentes
Date Published: 
Trinidad Guardian

El Dorado Senior Comprehensive and Naparima College set a date in the BWIA Secondary Schools Football League "Big 4" final when they scored victories respectively over St Anthony's College and last year's champions Signal Hill SC in contrasting styles at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, yesterday evening.

South Zone champions Naparima eked out a last gasp win courtesy of an Atiba McKnight injury time winner in the first semifinal, but "El Do" may have expected a tougher assignment from the Westmoorings "Tigers" in their 2-0 shut out. Both teams will clash in Sunday's final at Queen's Park Oval.

The pressure took a toll on the St Anthony's contingent when El Dorado notched their second goal in the 68th minute and bottles came flying from their supporters in the uncovered stands in the direction of the El Dorado team's bench. Substitute goalkeeper Cecil Thomas was struck and had to be taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital. Play was held up for some five minutes as officials of both teams were involved in heated argument.

Little good it did for St Anthony's as they failed to muster anything in attack thereafter.

In the opening match of the double header before a sizeable crowd, which the majority were "Naps" fans, the Southerners and the Tobagonians struggled to get their act together in the first half.

The visitors looked more purposeful up front in the opening stages but Naparima's Brenton De Leon almost seized the advantage for his side with a low drive which forced Signal Hill custodian Adrian John to push out.

Keon David's crack from an inside left position which 'keeper Aquellius Sylvester (Coca-Cola Man of the Match) did well to push overbar was the closest the "Hill" would come to scoring.

Solid defending by the Tobago boys held off a "Naps" forward line desperate for a goal before the half time interval. But their small bunch of fans which included former and now national coach Bertille St Clair would have hoped for better.

A goal was required to liven up the encounter but neither side could warrant it. Skipper Leon "Police" Brown controlled the "Naps" midfield admirably but his forwards' finishing touches left a lot to be desired.

Midway through the half Fabian Lewis and De Leon squandered openings and McKnight should have capitalised on John's miss in an attempt to claim a right side cross, but directed his shot wide.

Fatigue seemed to creep into Signal Hill's play and "Naps" went for the kill.

The decider came one minute into injury time when Wendell Joseph's shot from the top of the box which took an awkward bounce, forced John to push onto his upright and McKnight was on spot to head home.

That left their supporters in a frenzy, celebrating to the sounds of iron and tassa before the start of the second affair.

"El Do" stepped onto the playing field with no intentions of letting the North outfit override them and from the opening whistle had the "Tigers" under control.

Nine minutes passed before they went ahead when a quick break caught the St Anthony's defence napping and Abede Fernandez put the ball past Mikhail Germain in goal.

The 1997 Intercol winners soon got their act going and Damien Westfield almost got the equaliser when he raced goalwards but saw his effort blocked out by the advancing Acori Ross.

On the half hour, Westfield hit inches wide on the turn but "El Do" maintained that lead throughout the first half.

Midfielder Brenton Stewart was enjoying a fine display for the Easterners and he put them 2-0 ahead in the 68th minute with a flick on header past Germain. The "Blue Thunder" held onto that lead until the end and will hope to keep on rolling in Sunday's Oval final against Naparima.