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Morvant Caledonia United and Club Sando bow out at semis stage despite brave efforts

Willis Plaza scored on either side of the break, taking his First Citizens Cup (FCC) 2015 tally to five goals, while steering two-time defending champions Central FC to a 4-0 triumph over tournament debutants Club Sando and a place in next Friday’s final against Couva-rivals W Connection.

Plaza, who nicknamed himself the ‘Great White’, relative to his club’s nickname Couva Sharks, scored in the 22nd and 64th minutes during last night’s second game of the semi-final round double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium, while teammates Jason Marcano and substitute Kerry Baptiste grabbed a goal each.

The score-line eclipsed that of a 3-0 win achieved by six-time former First Citizens Cup champions W Connection over two-time former Morvant Caledonia United (MCU) in the earlier semi-final at the Couva venue.

The last time out, Connection and MCU played to a 1-1 draw in the Digicel Pro League on Tuesday, but last night the Savonetta Boys proved the better on the knockout stage.

“They (Connection) showed a little more desire coming off the draw we had against them [earlier this week],” said MCU veteran midfielder Abdallah Phillips after the defeat. “When we finally decided to play it was already too late.”

Shahdon Winchester and Jomal Williams scored a goal each in a space of two minutes to take a two-goal cushion at the break before an added-on-time stunner from Andre Toussaint sealed the 3-0 W Connection win.

Winchester put Connection ahead 1-0 in the 27th minute when he headed past goalkeeper Marvin Phillip off a right side corner swung in by teenager Aikim Andrews.

And one minute later Phillip was beaten again after his defence hung him out to dry.

Phillips had, seconds earlier, blanked a strike from Neil Benjamin Jr., but when the W Connection winger whipped a low ball across the six-yard area, the Calé goalie stood without guard and Williams (J) made it 2-0 from close range.

The Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper followed up with decent saves in the closing stages of the first half, denying Alvin Jones and Benjamin, however there was little he could do over the 90th minute mark against a superb Toussaint strike.

In the third of five minutes stoppage time, Toussaint completed a counterattack, which started from defending a MCU corner kick, when he unleashed a low left-footed strike into the into the bottom corner of Phillip’s goal for a 3-0 score after breezing past a last-ditch-effort from Kyle Bartholomew.

“I had fun today,” admitted the 34-year-old Toussaint, who re-joined Connection prior to the start of the season. “But it’s all down to hard work and professionalism which starts from (the training field). It motivates a player once he is professional [about the game] and makes up his mind to play his best. And to have teammates with such quality that I am around also motivates a player.”

Jomal Williams, who also scored against MCU earlier this week, said, “The game started very intense tonight. Caledonia are a very good team, they put down the ball and play a passing game… and so do we. But we passed the ball faster, more intense, and took our chances when we got them and came out on top.”

MCU’s chances were rare, and the best came prior to Toussaint’s goal when a stoppage-time Kareem Joseph free-kick forced goalkeeper Julani Archibald into a great save to put the ball behind for a corner.

“It was a learning experience for our team [with a number of new players to the Pro League],” continued MCU’s Phillips. “Too much individual errors cost us the game. Our new players realise now that W Connection (are) a tough team to face back to back. I thought our mentality wasn’t right for the game. A semi-final is like a final and from the start we didn’t show that desire and effort. They (W Connection) won the first half and we did well in the second half but didn’t put the ball in the back of the net.”

As Club Sando and Central made their way through the players’ tunnel for the start of the second semi-final, Jomal Williams told ttproleague.com he would like to meet Central in the final on Friday 30 October.

“It’s a rivalry,” added the Connection midfielder. “…and in the previous two seasons we were head-to-head. It will also do well for the (FCC) tournament.”

The efforts of Plaza, Marcano, Marvin Oliver, Jamal Jack and company, unknowingly, granted the W Connection player’s wish in setting up the Couva Clasico, the second this season after Central edged the Savonetta Boys for the Charity Shield on September 11.

However the FCC final will definitely have more bite to it with the crystal trophy and $110,000 going to the champions, while the defeated finalists must settle for the much lesser $20,000 runners-up take.

The second semi-final had final written all over it, entertaining an estimated 1200 spectators from kick-off to the game-ending tweet-tweet of referee Rodphin Harris’ whistle.

It was the clash of the two giants in their own rights: the reigning Digicel Pro League champions, Central FC, and last season’s Super League champions Club Sando.

Plaza had said Club Sando would be a “walkover”. He was wrong. Club Sando played their hearts out, especially in defence, and created a number of scares for the Couva Sharks.

But Plaza also said, prior to last night’s semi-final, Sando are new and haven’t faced the best yet and that he always view Central as the best. It turned out he was right.

The Trinidad and Tobago international forward backed up his remarks with goals in either half, and looked the part of a player full in confidence and ability throughout the encounter.

Plaza made it 1-0 by rifling a left footed strike past a fully sprawled Sando goalkeeper Kelvin Henry, who had denied him earlier, after controlling a Kevon Villaroel pass into the left of the area.

But it was midfielder Sean De Silva who should have opened the scoring from as early as the 15th minute when Plaza fed a neat return pass into the area. However the midfielder took a touch too much allowing Henry to avert danger.

Jason Marcano, who struck inches wide of the target four minutes earlier, cushioned Central 2-0 in the 30th minute when he hooked a left-footed strike past Henry after a solo run which clearly confused the Sando defence.

In the second half following two wasted scoring opportunities, Plaza made it 3-0, hitting past Henry from above the six yard area following quick exchanges between Oliver and Marcano from a corner.

It was Plaza’s eight goal in six games, in all competitions, while Central later celebrated an 8-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

The resistance of Sando, however, wasn’t flattened, and of course the rowdy fan support, “Let’s go! Let’s go! Sando!” didn’t die.

Central and Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams was twice forced into world-class saves, denying Akeem Humphrey in the 18th minute and Anthony Parris in the 78th minute, while teammate and hat-trick scorer against St. Ann’s Rangers in the quarter-finals, Kevon “Showtime” Woodley, despite a good fight, should have at least found the back of the net once.

Plaza was denied a third in the 71st minute before being replaced by veteran forward Kerry Baptiste two minutes later.

Baptiste then completed the 4-0 victory with a goal in the fourth minute of added-on time when he lifted a strike over Henry following a perfectly-timed defence-splitting Marcano pass from midfield.

Marcano, with a goal and two assists, was brilliant throughout.

Sando and Central will meet again as early as Tuesday (27 October) in Round One Match Day Three of the Digicel Pro League 2015-16 from 6 pm at the Mahaica Oval, following which W Connection are against home side Civic at the Point Fortin venue.

Also in Tuesday’s DPL fixtures, North East Stars will host St. Ann’s Rangers from 4 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium; and at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Morvant Caledonia United are against Police FC from 6 pm before Defence Force meet San Juan Jabloteh from 8 pm.

Results

W Connection 3 (Shahdon Winchester 27’, Jomal Williams 28’, Andre Toussaint 90’+3) vs Morvant Caledonia United 0

Club Sando 0 vs Central FC 4 (Willis Plaza 22’, 64’, Jason Marcano 30’, Kerry Baptiste 90’+4)

Teams

W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald; 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams, 4.Maurice Ford, 5.Triston Hodge, 9.Shahdon Winchester (Yellow Card) (19.Dwight Quintero 63rd), 10.Jomal Williams (8.Briel Thomas 70th) (Yellow Card), 11.Neil Benjamin Jr., 14.Andre Toussaint (Yellow Card), 16.Alvin Jones (Capt.) (Yellow Card), 17.Aikim Andrews (21.Shannon Gomez 77th).

Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 34.Jabari Mitchell, 25.Christian Filipe Ocoro Viveros, 48.Stiven Lopez Concha

Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier

Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Marvin Phillip; 4.Ordell Flemming, 9.Eugine Kirwan (10.Sheldon Holder 70th), 12.Kareem Joseph (Yellow Card), 13.Kyle Bartholomew, 14.Kennedy Isles, 15.Otev Lawrence (3.Ranaldo Bailey 46th), 18.Akeem Roach, 20.Jamal Harvey (11.Abdallah Phillips 44th), 21.Densill Theobald, 22.Jameel Neptune

Unused substitutes: 23.Shaquille Edwards, 24.Gregory President, 30.Anthony Whyte, 29.Kareem Knights

Coach: Jerry Moe

Match Referee: Gyasi Mc Donald

Teams

Club Sando: 34.Kelvin Henry; 4.Anthony Parris (Capt.) (Yellow Card), 5.Devon Drayton, 6.Kemuel Rivers, 7.Akeem Humphrey, 9.Jesse Downing (10.Kevon Neaves 65th), 11.Teba Mc Knight, 26.Kevon Woodley, 17.Jared London (15.Amrit Gildharry 80th), 22.Corneal Thomas, 24.Devon Modeste

Substitutes: 8.Jeromie Williams, 18.Shane Hospidales, 20.Keith Williams, 21.Kerron Mitchell, 33.Alexei Julien (GK),

Coach: Anthony Streete

Central FC: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (Capt.); 7.Jason Marcano, 8.Sean De Silva (25.Elijah Manners 78th), 10.Marvin Oliver (23.Jean-Luc Rochford 83rd), 11.Darren Mitchell, 12.Jamal Jack, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 17.Marcelle Francois, 24.Kevon Villaroel, 33.Willis Plaza (Yellow Card) (6.Kerry Baptiste 73rd), 22.Leston Paul (Yellow Card)

Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke, 14.Nicholas Dillon, 99.Marcus Joseph, 26.Mickaeel Jem Gordon,

Coach: Ross Russell

Referee: Rodphin Harris