|Caledonia claim historic FA crown |
By JOEL BAILEY Friday, December 19 2008
CALEDONIA AIA finally claimed their first Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) FA Trophy on Wednesday night after a pulsating 3-2 win over W Connection at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Tunapuna.
The lanky Kerron Smith scored off Andrei Pacheco’s freekick to put Connection ahead before another left-footed specialist Walter Moore finished off a move he started to level the scores.
Teba McKnight’s powerful header restored Connection’s advantage but a curling left-footer from Conrad Smith gave Caledonia hope as the game went into extra-time.
And Jameel Perry headed home Conrad Smith’s cross to secure the victory for the Morvant-based outfit.
With the result, the Caledonia outfit pocketed $80,000 while the “Savonetta lads”, winners in 1999, 2000 and 2002, earned half that amount.
The crowd which slowly increased as the day progressed saw a frenetic opening, with Pacheco testing goalkeeper Michael Woods with a long- range left-footed spot-kick after eight minutes. But Caledonia suffered a setback a minute later when central defender Kester Jacobs suffered a torn hamstring while attempting a left-footed clearance and was replaced by Marcus Ambrose.
Another freekick, this time from Conrad Smith, whizzed over Connection’s goal in the 12th minute but the pace of the game simmered afterwards until Kerron Smith broke the deadlock in the 29th.
One of the many reserve players used by the Pro League clubs during this competition, Smith (K) nudged home Pacheco’s right-sided ball to the near post after he was initially fouled, close to the right corner flag by Moore.
Moments later, Woods did well to deny a pair of Brazilians, the keeper went left to save Ronaldo Viana’s freekick while the rebound from striker Igor Santos was parried for a corner.
An enterprising move, involving Moore, earned Caledonia’s equalising goal in the 34th. Conrad Smith collected Moore’s pass from the left and forced a fine save from goalie Murilo Da Costa, while Densil Theobald pounced on the loose ball and fed Moore who got the better of defender Christian Viveros to tuck the ball into the back of the net.
Connection went back ahead four minutes later, as right-back Nickolson Thomas swung a cross to McKnight who beat his marker Sheldon Emmanuel (playing in the central defensive role instead of Jacobs) and headed past the diving Woods.
The oldest player on the field, 37-year-old Kendall Velox, got a ball from Theobald inside the penalty area but his shot was denied by another veteran, Connection’s skipper Elijah Joseph while Caledonia failed to equalise during a sustained attacking spell seconds before the half-time whistle.
Connection, as is the norm, went on the defensive during the second half, with Kern Cupid joining the back four, while Emmanuel suffered a series of cramps and went off before the hour-mark.
Following a Velox corner, Caledonia’s captain Charles Pollard played the ball to Kareem Joseph who forced a fine save from Da Costa.
That moment seemed to inspire AIA, as Conrad Smith knotted up the scores in the 82nd, getting free and sending a left-footed floater to the right of Da Costa after referee Lee Davis allowed play to continue following a foul on Perry by Viana.
Early in the extra-time, Theobald’s long-range blast was denied by Da Costa while, on the opposite end, Viana was teed up by Jonathan Frias but his shot went wide.
Conrad Smith could have won the game for his team with a freekick which wrong-footed the goalie, but the ball missed the target.
With both teams having already used their allotted three substitutes, Smith, battling cramps and fatigue, was instrumental in the winner.
Spotted on the left by Kareem Joseph’s diagonal ball, Smith’s cross was headed home by an alert Perry to seal the victory, which atoned for Caledonia’s 1-0 loss at the same venue to Joe Public in last year’s decider.
W CONNECTION: Murilo Da Costa; Elijah Joseph (capt), Christian Viveros, Andrei Pacheco, Nickolson Thomas; Kern Cupid, Ronaldo Viana, Kerron Smith (Jonathan Frias 64th), George Isaac; Igor Santos (Hughton Hector 53rd), Teba McKnight (Ishmael Daniel 72nd).
CALEDONIA AIA: Michael Woods; Charles Pollard (capt), Kester Jacobs (Marcus Ambrose 12th), Sheldon Emmanuel (Akim Armstrong 58th), Kareem Joseph; Stephan David, Walter Moore, Abdallah Phillips, Densil Theobald; Conrad Smith, Kendall Velox (Jameel Perry 79th).