South Zone winners Presentation College stayed on course yesterday for a perfect BG T&T/First Citizens Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) run with a 1-0 win over East Zone champions Arima North Secondary at Malabar's Larry Gomes Stadium.
It was hard work with a little luck needed in a keenly contested Big Five quarterfinal, but Pres found it in the 85th minute off the head of Civaughn Dimsoy to shut down the Dial Dynamos.
Before that, the match looked headed for kicks from the penalty mark, but after numerous near misses, Pres made one count.
It was tough going breaking down a dogged Arima defence; still only one team could move on.
Pres will next travel to Tobago to take on Scarborough Secondary in tomorrow's semifinal at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet. But today, another team will put their unbeaten tag on the line. St Anthony's College, the 2011 Big Five winners, will travel to Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva to face Central Zone champs Carapichaima East in the first semi. (See Page 57)
Arima could have had the lead at half-time, and pressed for it early in the second period, when the momentum see-sawed back and forth.
They got close to goal, but Jamaul Francois and Rondell Elie failed to beat the Pres defence, and Kervyn Mohammed missed twice before he was substituted.
And after a wave of late attacks fended off by Arima, Pres finally grabbed the winner when Antwan John floated in a cross from the right, and a flick of the head from Dimsoy was all it took to leave Arima custodian Shundell Mayers flat-footed, and Presentation fans celebrating.
The first half was no thriller, but certainly there was little between the teams. Both sides were missing their talismanic players to national under-20 duty—playmaker Marcus Gomez for Arima and potent striker Shakiel Henry of Pres—but each side had a couple of close chances by half-time.
It was Arima's Neveal Hackshaw who could have first broken the deadlock, had his shot been powerful after a searing run through the Pres defence.
Generally, both sides impressed with their defending, but still there were a few missed chances, and a couple of great saves at either end before the break. Arima's Jesus Perez blasted a 25-metre free kick in the 24th that a diving Kelvin Henry in the Pres goal could only tip onto the crossbar. And for Presentation, Angel Williams should have done better with his blast from the penalty area that thundered wide.
Still, the South Zone title holders were not made to pay for their misses.
In the earlier match of the "Larry Gomes" double header, Debe High School continued their four-year unbeaten run with a 3-0 beating of St Augustine Secondary in their BG T&T InterCol semifinal.
Debe were in full control at 3-0 up by the interval, with the ever-dependable Kayla Taylor slamming home the first two goals in the 13th and 26th, and Patrice Vincent adding the third in the 40th.
Debe continued to dominate in the second half and muffed a number of chances, while Debe goalkeeper Kazzi Grant came to their rescue late on with a blinding save to keep a clean sheet for the South Zone champions.