Senior Multimedia Reporter
Substitute Mussaddiq Mohammed scored an 80th minute winner as Queen’s Royal College (QRC) created the biggest upset of the season, dumping reigning national Secondary Schools Football League Premier Division as well as North Zone and National Intercol champions Fatima College in a 2-1 in a come-from-behind performance in their zonal semifinal contest at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, yesterday.
With the win against the same opponents whom they suffered a 7-1 loss against during the Premier Division League season, QRC, coached by former national striker Kenwyne Jones, set up a zonal final against St Anthony’s College, whom Jones helped to back-to-back national title sweeps during his playing days in the early 1990s.
Fatima began the contest as favourites and almost took the lead in the 33rd minute, but striker Joshua Mason was denied by the left upright from an acute angle after he outran defender Isaiah Isaac down the left flank.
Two minutes later, Fatima eventually went ahead when an unmarked Aiden De Gannes was picked out by a short pass from Kade Collier just at the top of the penalty box, and with time and space he fired in on goal with the ball taking a deflection off the leg of defender Zakari King, to beat goalkeeper Jaheim Affan.
Six minutes into the second half, the Royalians drew level with a gem of a strike from Stephon James to stun the Fatima supporters while spurring his team and his own supporters to life.
James won an aerial battle with defender Yohance Artherton following a long aerial clearance from Tau Lamsee, before he gathered himself off the ground, and lashed home a left-footed effort past the desperate lunge of defender Micaiah Leach from about 25 yards which flew past goalkeeper Tristan Edwards, and into the top left-hand corner of the goal.
Mason came close again to getting on the mark for Fatima in the 69th minute, but just like his first-half effort, he saw his right-footed effort skim the far post after battling his way past Isaac on another marauding run, for yet another time on the night.
QRC’s Mohammed then sent his supporters into a frenzy when he latched onto a ball that Fatima’s Micaiah Leach poked away from Micah Nelson inside the 18-yard box, and without hesitation he curled a right-footer past the outstretched hands of a diving Edwards into the far corner.
The Royalians then withstood a barrage of late attacks by the Hutson Charles-coached Fatima to secure a memorable come-from-behind win and a place in the final against the ‘Westmooring Tigers’ on Thursday from 3.30 at the same venue.
Tigers outplay East Mucurapo
Earlier on in the day’s opener St Anthony’s dominated the early exchanges and wasted a chance to take the lead in the 14th minute when Jean-Marc Thomas intercepted a wayward back pass intended for goalkeeper Aaron Andrews, but with the East Mucurapo custodian out of his 18-yard box, Thomas guided his effort wide of the bottom left-hand corner of the goal.
The opening goal finally came for the ‘Westmooring Tigers three minutes before the interval when Andell Fraser unleashed a right-footed rocket into the roof of the East Mucurapo goal after Andrews came up big first time around for his team with a timely block on a first post effort by Theo Crovador.
It was soon 2-0 St Anthony’s via a penalty from Joshua Miller in the 44th minute after referee CJ O’Brien whistled for a foul on Aaron Edwards on Miller who was put through on goal by captain Aalon Wilson-Wright.
Fraser then had a chance to add another for St Anthony’s on the stroke of half-time but he failed to get off a shot inside before defender Jelani Cox made a timely block, after running onto a long clearance out of his own half by Wilson-Wright, but luckily for East Mucurapo the score remained 2-0.
On the resumption, East Mucurapo almost pulled a goal back in the 69th minute, but midfielder Clint Latchman, who surprisingly started on the bench, just failed to get onto the end of a left-sided cross from Al-Kalipha Henry, under pressure from defender Rundell Harewood at the far post.
Another chance came East Mucurapo’s way in the 78th minute when Zion Harley outjumped St Anthony’s Jeremy Bobb and connected powerfully with a header off the corner taken by Jadon Mc Shine, only to see his effort sail overbar from inside the six-yard box.
However, East Mucurapo was made to rue those two missed chances two minutes later, when the result was put beyond doubt by St Anthony’s.
The nippy Crovador raced down the right side of the 18-yard box and managed to get in a tame across ahead of defender Khufu Muhammed, which was met on the first post by substitute Mordecai Ford whose one-time effort beat Andrews on his first post for a 3-0 score line, and a spot in the final against the Royalians, where they will be seeking to avenge a 1-0 Premier Division loss.
Today, the South Zone will hold centre stage with dethroned league champions and last year’s losing Intercol finalist St Benedict’s College facing Premier Division relegated outfit Pleasantville Secondary in the first semifinal at Mahaica Sporting Complex, from 3 pm while Presentation of San Fernando tackles Naparima College in the second match from 5.15 pm.