It was a big night for Josiah Trimmingham.
The Trinidad & Tobago international center back fought immigration issues for three months, thanks in large part to COVID cases surging, then sustained an injury shortly after arriving in Madison.
He finally made his 2021 debut Saturday night, halfway through the season, playing at striker — a position he hasn’t played since high school — as Forward Madison hosted South Georgia Tormenta in a USL League One match.
“(He’s) a big strong lad and very, very willing,” head coach Carl Craig said of the decision to try Trimmingham as an attacker. (Trmmingham is 6’2” and 210 pounds.) “People are looking at me, saying ‘Are you mad?’ No! He’s a major distraction for anyone. And when he got into it, he had a couple of little moves… A big lad up there has to be a major threat. I think our football was a threat regardless of the big man tonight, but with the big man in there as well, especially from set plays, just makes it happen.”
Trimmingham made Craig look like a genius, scoring with a nifty left-footed finish on an assist from Jake Keegan in the 23rd minute, sparking Madison to a 2-1 win.
“Being a professional, you need to know almost all positions on the field, their role and function, so you can adjust accordingly,” he said.
Starting Trimmingham at striker was just one of many changes to the lineup for Craig Saturday night, as he shifted from four defenders to three so the Flamingos, who’ve struggled to score, could put another attacker forward.
After holding all the momentum in the first half, the Mingos gave up the lead early in the second as center back Connor Tobin tripped up Azaad Liadi at the edge of the box and South Georgia was awarded a penalty, which Marco Micaletto converted to goalkeeper Phil Breno’s left.
“It’s a little deflating to be honest,” said Forward Madison midfielder Justin Sukow. “We’re all pumped up at half time, ‘Let’s go out there. Let’s see the game out.’ And then to give up a penalty right away, it’s kind of deflating, but I think we bounced back well, and we kept our heads and we just kept fighting and we knew we could get a goal back.”
Sukow himself did just that in the 63rd minute, as Gustavo Fernandez delivered an inviting cross for Sukow to head home with authority.
It was Sukow’s second of the year and first since May 27. He scored in a friendly against the University of Wisconsin on Tuesday, which bolstered his confidence, he said.
“When the ball goes in the back of the net, it gives you a lot of confidence, no matter what kind of goal it is,” he said. “I was glad I got to do it tonight. I’m going to try to keep it going in the games coming up.”
That goal, along with a Phil Breno save just before the final whistle, sealed the Mingos’ first win in six matches in front of 3,049 fans, who were in full voice as always.
“The crowd’s been behind us all year. We talk about it all the time, we want to give them something to cheer about,” Sukow said.
“That felt amazing,” Trimmingham said of the thunderous ovation he got upon exiting the game just after the hour mark. “It’s always good to have the fan support. That’s what we’re here for, to play football, and to play for the fans mostly.”
The win moved Madison from 10th to 8th in the table, but just two points out of third. The Mingos host Toronto FC II on Wednesday and North Texas next Saturday.