Jardel Sinclair came off the bench to end 44 years of frustration for Presentation College San Fernando yesterday.
“Pres” hadn’t tasted national InterCol glory since 1975, when they shared the title with Belmont Secondary. But in the third minute of injury time at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Sinclair’s marksmanship earned his school a 2-1 win over San Juan North Secondary, and for the first time ever, made Presentation sole winners of secondary schools football’s most coveted trophy.
“This meant a whole lot to the Presentation family, it has been a long, long while. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We got the job done, we had the supporters behind us from get-go, I’m lost for words,” an emotional winning coach Shawn Cooper declared, an arm draped around son and Presentation substitute Shakeem.
Shakeem was not put on the field by his dad yesterday, but coach Cooper’s moves from the bench still proved to be golden. He introduced Sinclair and Nkosi Charles in the second half and both combined to settle a match that seemed headed for spot kicks.
Sinclair got things going, picking up the ball in the final third and slipping it wide to Charles. His nimble footwork helped him keep control under challenge while Sinclair continued his run, and with digital precision, he squared into the middle for his fellow substitute to slip the ball past goalkeeper Emmanuel John. As the ball struck the net, Sinclair continued running—straight into the stands to celebrate with his schoolmates.
That blow so late in the match was a sickening one for John and his mates who were facing the reality of a third straight loss in the final. Feelings ran too strong, and a competitive match—up to that time played in a good spirit—ended with referee Crystal Sobers having to show red cards to three players following a melee; Pres ending the match with nine men and San Juan, ten.
The contest ended in as much drama as it had begun. The final was just three minutes old when San Juan struck, Isaiah Chase side-footing the ball past goalkeeper Isaiah Williams to cap off a move that had begun with a long throw from the left side. It was San Juan’s first goal in the InterCol final for three years, but stunned Presentation were far from beaten. They moved the ball around with confidence and in the 19th minute Jaiye Sheppard drew them level.
Starting the move himself from just over the half-way line, he slipped the ball wide left to Ackeel Jacob and continued his forward run to meet Jacobs’ low cross with a side-footer that beat John.
That was the 14th goal of the season for the Pres danger man and he nearly added a 15th when his twisting side-footed volley flew past the wrong side of the left upright from another Jacob feed. But the half ended at 1-1 and the second period seemed to be producing no winner until injury time and Sinclair arrived to answer all those Pres prayers.