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Déjà Vu as Connection kicks Central out on penalties

Last season twelve kicks from the penalty spot were needed to decide the champions of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) FA Trophy between bitter rivals W Connection and Central FC when the “Savonetta Boys” prevailed 6-5 following a thrilling 2-2 draw in the final.

Likewise, Sunday's semi-final round match-up at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, had to be decided on kicks from the penalty spot when Connection and Central played to a 2-2 draw.

This time around – fifteen months since meeting in the 2013 final – both teams weren't as clinical from the spot but the winners remained the same as Central were defeated 3-1.

Central FC's Jason Marcano and Marvin Oliver both missed the target before teammate Keion Goodridge was denied by goalkeeper Aquelius Sylvester. Twenty-seven-year-old Liberian midfielder Borfor Carr, a second half substitute, scored Central’s only goal on the fourth kick.

By then it was too late for the “Couva Sharks” although Connection's Alvin Jones was the first to miss the target and substitute Jabari Mitchell struck the upright, separated by Jomal Williams beating goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams on the second kick. Anselm Jackson and Christian Viveros later found the back of the net to steer the "Savonetta Boys" into an eight FA Trophy final.

Connection, four-time winners, are now one match away from defending their title but must face former winners North East Stars, who are hoping to lift FA Trophy for the first time since 2003 when both teams meet in the 2015 final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on Sunday 22 March.

North East Stars, defeated finalists in 2006 and 2010-2011, booked their place in the 2015 final with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over three-time winners San Juan Jabloteh on Sunday at the Larry Gomes Stadium.

Former Stars player Tyrone Charles handed Jabloteh a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute of play with a free kick but Keron Cummings levelled the Angus Eve-coached North East Stars 1-1 in the 54th minute before Kennedy Hinkson grabbed the 2-1 winner in the 78th minute.

In Marabella, defender Jamal Jack gave Central a 1-0 advantage five minutes before the break with a snap shot past goalkeeper Aquelius Sylvester from the edge of the six yard area following a raid on goal by the “Couva Sharks”.

Earlier Sylvester, who made a stop in the 12th minute, pulled off a low save in the 35th minute to keep out a Sean de Silva effort from inside the box following a short corner and move into the area by Ataulla Guerra.

Connection had two earlier chances to take the lead but Jomol Williams' header crashed off the cross bar in the 17th minute and Jan-Michael Williams made a crucial interception to deny Kurt Frederick on an excellent scoring opportunity in the 28th minute.

De Silva tried to cushion Central early in the second period but his tries in the 55th and 59th minutes were just high of the goal, failing to force Sylvester into action.

Connection, who rested a number of regular starters to put faith in a second string team, levelled the scores 1-1 in the 63rd minute with Colombian midfielder Yefer Steven Lozano converting from the penalty spot.

Referee Keilon Bacchus awarded Connection the kick after defender Akeem Benjamin upended Jomol Williams inside the left of the box.

Central thought they were ahead again in the 68th minute when substitute Jason Marcano bundled the ball into the Connection net. But celebrations were cut short after the assistant referee had already waved for offside.

Two minutes later the Zoran Vranes-coached Central won a free kick but De Silva powerful thump flew high over bar.

Connection then took the lead for the first time in the 76th minute for a 2-1 score with a laser of a strike from Alvin Jones off a 25-yard set piece, defeated the wall and entered the bottom corner of goalkeeper Williams’ right side.

Connection substitute Jabari Mitchell – the Secondary Schools Football League Player of the Year and Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 footballer – had an excellent scoring opportunity in the 81st minute but lifted Christian Rodriguez's low cross onto the cross bar.

Connection were made to pay in the 89th minute when Jack restored parity between the two sides by hitting past Sylvester to complete his double after the defense failed to clear on a De Silva free-kick into the area.

Sylvester, however, was able to block-out a stoppage time free-kick by Marvin Oliver to send the match into kicks from the penalty spot, then contributing with a save to help the Stuart Charles Fevrier-coached W Connection to the final.

Connection, who occupy second place on the Digicel Pro League 2014-2015 standings – five points adrift of leaders Central, will return to league action on Tuesday against cellar-placed St. Ann’s Rangers from 4 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Round Three Match Day Four. Simultaneously at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium the “Couva Sharks” will take on Police FC.

Also on Tuesday, Jabloteh and North East Stars will meet a second time in three days from 7 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, preceding a 9 pm clash between Defence Force and Caledonia AIA.

Semi Final Round Results

North East Stars 2 (Keron Cummings 54', Kennedy Hinkson 78') vs San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Tyrone Charles 12')

Central FC 2 (Jamal Jack 42', 89') vs W Connection 2 (Yefer Steven Lozano 63' penalty, Alvin Jones 76')
(W Connection won the match 3-1 on kicks from the penalty mark)

Kicks from the penalty mark

W Connection (3)    v     Central FC (1)
Alvin Jones (over bar)                    Jason Marcano (wide
Jomal Williams (scored)                 Marvin Oliver (over bar)
Jabari Mitchell (hit the post)            Keion Goodridge (saved)
Anselm Jackson (scored)               Borfor Carr (scored)
Christian Viveros (scored)

Teams

Central FC: 21.Jan-Michael Williams; 11.Darren Mitchell (28.Borfor Carr 67th), 12.Jamal Jack, 24.Kevon Villaroel, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 33.Willis Plaza, 2.Elton John, 45.Ataullah Guerra (7.Jason Marcano 61st), 10.Marvin Oliver, 5.Akeem Benjamin (3.Keion Goodridge 85th), 8.Sean de Silva

Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 19.Nathaniel Garcia, 29.Upston Edwards, 6.Leston Paul

Coach: Zoran Vranes

W Connection: 22.Aquelius Sylvester; 2.Kurt Frederick, 39.Alvin Jones, 25.Christian Viveros, 4.Bradley Beaumont, 10.Yefer Steven Lozano (9.Maleik De Freitas 84th), 11.Tremain Shayn Paul (16.Anselm Jackson 64th), 20.Christian Rodriguez, 30.Aaquil Campbell (34.Jabari Mitchell 62nd), 40.Jomal Williams, 43.Shirvone St.  Prix

Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 34.Jabari Mitchell, 44.Levon Bass, 42.Amrit Gildharry, 46.Anfernee Frederick

Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier