|Joe Public snatch FA Trophy |
By JOEL BAILEY Friday, December 11 2009
CONRAD SMITH netted his eighth goal of the tournament, and easily the most pivotal in his career, with three minutes remaining in extra- time, as Joe Public earned a pulsating 3-2 win over W Connection on Wednesday night, to capture the 2009 Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) FA Trophy.
At the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Joe Public, vying for their third FA title, went ahead in the 15th minute when their captain Kerry Baptiste produced a wonderful right-footed volley, from a deep ball by right-back Kareem Young, which caught Connection goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams off-guard.
The goal was Baptiste’s sixth in the tournament, two behind the top-scorer Smith; but Baptiste’s item was his 48th in a magnificent 2009 season.
In the 37th minute, Clyde Leon tapped home a rebound, after Matthew Bartholomew’s effort was saved by Joe Public’s goalie Alejandro Figueroa.
Four minutes later, Joe Public were hamstrung when defensive midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford was sent off by referee Neal Brizan for retaliation on defender Eder Gilmar Aras, and Connection took advantage of their numerical superiority to go ahead in the 81st with a wonderful header by Bartholomew.
Aras also had a fantastic headed-goal, but that proved costly as he placed Gorean Highley’s left-sided cross into his own net, seconds before fourth official Geoffrey Hospedales signalled four minutes of stoppage time. Smith, who has spent the bulk of the season on the Joe Public bench, took a loose ball, strolled through acres of space and unleashed a low right-footer past Williams, which sparked a pitch invasion by the joyous Joe Public technical staff and bench.
The result will obviously be a hard pill to swallow for Connection’s coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who lost by a similar extra-time score-line to Caledonia AIA in the 2008 final at Macoya.
But Joe Public’s tactician Derek King, despite playing the bulk of the game with ten men and clearly outplayed by Connection, proved the football adage that goals win matches, as they claimed their fourth major title of the year.
Joe Public kept the same starting eleven from the team who eliminated Caledonia in Monday’s semi-final, while Connection, who knocked out United Petrotrin to earn a final spot, brought in Bartholomew and midfielder Christian Viveros, in place of Jose Carlos Diaz and midfielder Andrei Pacheco.Viveros could have given his team a second minute lead, as he received a ball from the left by wing-back Joevin Jones but drove his right-footer wide of Figueroa’s right post.
Baptiste broke the deadlock, out of the blue, as he slipped past his marker and opposing captain Elijah Joseph to put Joe Public ahead.
Midfielder Yu Hoshide could not keep down his header from Trent Noel’s pass, with only Williams to beat, while Hughton Hector missed the mark with a long range blast, wide of Figueroa’s net.
However, Brizan allowed play to continue after a harsh tackle on Hector by Rochford, and Jonathan Frias and Leon combined to free up Bartholomew who saw his right-footer saved but Leon pounced on the rebound to knot up the scores.
Rochford was issued a yellow card for the infringement, but he was shown a straight red card shortly afterwards as he aimed a kick to Aras’ face, following a challenge in the Connection half of the field.
Charles-Fevrier brought on veteran midfielder Jose Luiz Seabra at half-time to exploit the spaces in the centre but Leon failed to hit the target with a pair of efforts, early in the second-half, from outside the penalty box.
Frias took a freekick from Hector, created space but sent his right-footer high, and, even though King was forced to take off Micah Lewis and Hoshide, for Smith (in attack) and Devon Leacock (to plug the hole in the centre midfield), Connection took the lead when Seabra spotted Jones’ overlapping run on the left and the newcomer’s cross to an unmarked Bartholomew was placed to the left of a flat-footed Figueroa. Jones was called into action, a minute later, when he produced a fine tackle to deny Smith’s effort, but Highley, brought on for Young as Joe Public went for broke, could not believe his luck as Aras produced a top-class header to divert his left-sided cross beyond the reach of Williams.
By that time, Bartholomew was sacrificed for Pacheco as Connection seemed intent on protecting their lead, but, midway into extra-time, Frias, who bore the brunt of a number of tackles, was replaced by stockily-built midfielder Igor Santos.
Before Santos’ introduction, Noel and Pacheco saw their left-footed tries saved, on the opposing ends, but Smith had the final say, taking a loose ball, moving diagonally to his right, evading a challenge from the retreating Gerrard Williams and directing his right-footer past the outstretched keeper.
In related news, the game marked the end of the professional careers of the pair of assistant referees (linesmen) Joseph Taylor and Lyndon Burton, who will be stepping down from the FIFA panel at the end of this year.
The pair has reached the FIFA age limit, for game officials, of 45.
Teams – JOE PUBLIC: Alejandro Figueroa; Seon Power, Carlyle Mitchell, Keion Goodridge, Kareem Young (Gorean Highley 83rd); Jean-Luc Rochford, Hayden Tinto, Micah Lewis (Conrad Smith 61st), Yu Hoshide (Devon Leacock 69th), Trent Noel; Kerry Baptiste (capt). W CONNECTION: Jan Michael Williams; Elijah Joseph (capt), Eder Gilmar Aras, Joevin Jones, Nickcolson Thomas; Gerrard Williams, Clyde Leon, Christian Viveros (Jose Luiz Seabra 46th), Hughton Hector; Matthew Bartholomew (Andrei Pacheco 89th), Jonathan Frias (Igor Santos 108th).