Defending champions El Dorado East Secondary held off a second half rally by ten-man St Augustine Secondary to win their BG T&T/First Citizens Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) clash 2-1, yesterday, and seize control of the East Zone.
Shaquille Bertrand doubled up in "El Do's" early first half burst at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, and that proved enough to secure the win despite second half pressure from the "Green Machine".
Full points for the "Blue Thunder", combined with previous leaders' Arima North Secondary's 1-1 draw at San Juan North Secondary, gave El Dorado a two-point lead atop the standings, as they stand on ten points.
Bertrand first hit net after five minutes, and then again after 12, taking advantage of sloppy defending and questionable goalkeeping from Kwinsi Williams. Those mistakes were costly as St Augustine lacked the punch up front to turn their brave fightback into a comeback.
Just a few minutes in, an unmarked Bertrand had his team in front as he headed in a long ball from midfield from the penalty spot, with Williams quick off his line, but mistiming his challenge.
If coach Michael Grayson was upset about his team letting in that chance, he would have been furious over the next goal. Again, Williams came out to get the lob into the area and got a piece of the ball, but assisting defender Lincoln Burns unintentionally deflected the ball back into the path of a free Bertrand, and he tucked home from close range.
Things got worse for "Gustine" eight minutes later, when Akeem Garcia earned an early trip to the showers for using obscene language after the referee blew for an infringement.
Still, St Augustine found their fight halfway through the period. But they went in at the break 2-0 down after failing to score a number of chances.
Ricardo John missed a few close looks at goal, none better than a header from six metres that he forced wide. Nicholas Marcano and Gerard Melony put free kicks just overbar, while Marcano forced "El Do" goalie Hakeem Lucas to tip over.
The St Augustine dominance continued after the restart, but the result was the same. Burns shot wide, missed a couple of crosses, and found Lucas from mere metres away. And Shannon Gomez, on the left wing, gave El Dorado defenders a hard time, but could not find an ally to finish.
St Augustine pulled a goal back in the 75th minute, Triston Hodge converting from the penalty spot after Ricaldo Castellano had been hauled down in the El Dorado penalty area by Mikal Primus.
Still, St Augustine's finishing never matched their second half energy, and they were left ruing more wasted opportunities at the final whistle.
El Dorado will know they were less than convincing in defence yesterday, but they will certainly be happy for the East lead.
Fatima 1 vs St Anthony's 1
QRC 1 (Cousian Elcock 80th) vs East Mucurapo 2 (Kadeem Hutchinson 27th, Akil Campbell 6th)
Diego Martin North 1 vs Trinity 0
El Do West 1 vs Toco 0
El Do East 2 (Shaquille Bertrand 5th & 12th) vs St Augustine 1 (Triston Hodge (P) 75th)
San Juan North 1 vs Arima North 1
Carapichaima East 9 (Shaquille Holder 4, Joshua Eneau 2, Kern Alexis, Kadeem Boyce, own goal) vs Presentation 0
Couva West 0 vs Tabaquite 1
Chaguanas 0 vs Gasparillo 6
Shiva Boys 4 vs Moruga 1
Pleasantville 0 vs St Benedict's 2 (Kyle Celestine, Dillon Joseph) • See Page 55
Naparima 3 vs Princes Town 1
Mason Hall 1 vs Signal Hill 1
Speyside vs Roxborough (postponed)