Twice would have certainly been nice for North East Stars. However it was DIRECTV W Connection that triumphed on Friday night at the Marvin Lee Stadium in the Final of the 2012-2013 season Lucozade Sport Goal Shield.
Connection finished 4-3 winners on kicks from the penalty spot following a goalless stalemate to lift its second ever Goal Shield and maiden title this season. Connection lifted the inaugural title in 2009.
“Don’t ever count us out!” said W Connection owner/President David John-Williams, illustrating his joy with a huge smile.
While North East Stars notably without its ace goalscorer Cornell Glen, due to a calf strain picked up in the quarterfinal round, finished runners up, falling to its first defeat this season against the central club after five meetings.
“It was a tight game,” summarized Connection Technical Director/Head Coach and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach Stuart Charles Fevrier. “It was a Final and no team wanted to take unnecessary risks, so in the end it came to the penalties. We are aware that in football penalties are very much part of the game. We prepared very well for that eventuality, and our players did execute, and we are very pleased.”
Connection’s Colombian goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa made two stops, denying the Stars’ fist (Elijah Manners) and fourth (Keithy Simpson) penalty kickers bettering a superb shutout by goalkeeper Cleon John against the ‘Savonnetta Boys’ second kick (Silvio Spann).
“I saw their penalty kickers against Defence Force (in the semi-final round),” said Figueroa. “…so I had a good idea of what to expect.”
North East Stars reached Friday’s Final by defeating the Soldiers 5-4 on penalty kicks with goalkeeper John making two saves, all following a 1-1 draw. And it was two saves from John on kicks from the penalty mark against the Tetron based Defence Force that the Sangre Grande club lifted this season’s Toyota Classic title last December 4-2 on penalties following a 2-2 draw.
Unfortunately John’s quality and heroics between the uprights only afforded the Angus Eve-coached Stars one save, as Connection’s Joevin Jones, Tremain Shayn Paul, Jomal Williams and Clyde Leon celebrated goals against the Trinidad and Tobago international.
“It’s nice, nice, nice,” said Figueroa, clearly enjoying being back at Connection.
Figueroa, now 34, who represented Connection between 2001 and 2005 only returned to the club in January as replacement for Jan Michael-Williams, who eventually departed the club in March, as a result of a verbal bust-up between himself and Fevrier.
“There are about five players that I played with before,” Figueroa continued. “But the new players are also good players and I’m enjoying it. I was glad to do my part and help us win the (Lucozade Sport Goal Shield) title tonight.”
“Alejandro is a very experienced goalkeeper,” explained Fevrier. “Alejandro knows the club as well because he has been with us in the past.”
The Colombian had little work during regulation time against the Stars and 2010 Goal Shield winners, who failed at adding a second title to the Sangre Grande cabinet this season.
In the 28th minute Figueroa thwarted a tame effort from distance by Stars’ midfielder Jeromie Williams, and did the same against second half attempts by substitute Micah Lewis (56th minute) and Elton John (88th minute).
But it was Lewis who should have had the Stars in front with the opportunity of the match. Lewis was played in by a pass on the right by Kerry Baptiste but after taking a touch towards goal, the Stars’ winger launched a weak strike towards Figueroa near first post.
Baptiste later received what was his second booking on the night in the 72nd minute after a foul on Daneil Cyrus, reducing the Stars to ten men. And Connection were down to ten men as well, by the 81st minute, when no nonsense referee Rodphin Harris also gave Stefano Rijssel his marching orders with a direct red card for what everyone presumed dissent.
Following the match Connection’s assistant coach Earl Jean shared that Rijssel, of Suriname, explained he was only shouting to one of his teammates.
Rijssel had earlier forced the first real save out of goalkeeper John with a strike from the top of the area in the 53rd minute, followed by an ignored penalty shout by Connection when Jones went down inside the area five minutes later against defender Kareem Moses.
Then in the 63rd minute from a freekick just outside the area following a foul on Rijssel by Moses, Jones whipped a left footed attempt over the wall but that was easily gathered by John.
North East Stars did well to keep Jones, eventual Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, at bay, however the 21 year old was still the liveliest on the night.
Eighteen minutes into the match a Jones free kick from the right offered Cyrus a chance at goal, but the defender’s glancing header only guided the ball over.
And a minute later Jones tried his luck from distance, but the bouncing effort wasn’t really threat for goalkeeper John.
Jones was at it again in the 38th minute but sliced his effort well wide. Teammate Andrei Pacheco had a tame one at John in the 45th minute, and before the halftime whistle, solid defending by Glenton Wolfe choked another Pacheco effort.
North East Stars meantime didn’t get the expected Glen effect, upfront, from Elijah Manners who had a difficult time against the Connection backline with veteran Eligah Joseph and new standout Cyrus.
Backed by a rhythm section and its very vocal supporters, the Sangre Grande club had the last bite at the cherry in the 92nd minute when substitute Keithy Simpson struck wide of the upper corner and should have done much better after the cleared ball from a corner fell to him just inside the area.
Then it was down to kicks from the penalty spot deciding the winner.
“It’s a joy when you work hard and get success,” Fevrier said. “This week was a very important week for us. It’s a week we really planned to detail, because it was a week where we had to qualify for the CONCACF Champions’ League, which was top of our priority, and a week where we had to win our maiden trophy this season.”
Connection who defeated Police FC 4-0 in the Goal Shield quarterfinal round and ousted last season’s champs Caledonia 2-1 in the semi-final round, qualified out of the Caribbean for the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions’ League earlier this week. Last Friday Connection defeated Caledonia 4-0 in their opening Group One match of the Caribbean qualifiers and on Tuesday drew 0-0 with Antigua and Barracuda USL Pro outfit Barracuda FC to top the group.
“Every season we win one of the titles and this (Lucozade Sport Goal Shield) Final was very critical for us and we are very happy that we were able to win this trophy,” continued the Connection coach.
Apart from crediting goalkeeper Figueroa, Fevrier said, “Clyde (Leon) and (Joevin) Jones are two of our (Trinidad and Tobago) national players and they have the experience to be calm and were able to give the other players confidence, and they delivered.”
However celebrations would be brief, as explained by Fevrier.
He said, “We have game on Monday against Defence Force. We have been playing almost every two days and we won’t have much time to enjoy this because on Monday we are back at work. We have to show humility and keep focus for our next game on Monday against Defence Force in the League.
Then there is still the (Digicel) Pro Bowl to play for and it gives us and all the other teams, the opportunity to win another trophy. We also have to plan for the CONCACAF Champions’ League. So we have a lot on our plate that we have to prepare for in a very short time.”
Connection, third on the Digicel Pro League and tied with 32 points as fourth positioned North East Stars, will take on leaders Defence Force (43 points) in Round Three Match Day Six from 6pm on Monday at the Ato Boldon Stadium followed by fifth positioned Central FC (27 points) against second positioned Caledonia AIA (39 points) from 8pm.
Simultaneously at the Marvin Lee Stadium, bottom of the table T&TEC FC (8 points) will take on the Stars from 6pm, and from 8pm seventh positioned St. Ann’s Rangers (12 points) and sixth positioned Police FC (15 points) will trash it out.
Lucozade Sport Goal Shield Final
Friday 3 May 2013
Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya
Regular time score
W Connection 0 – 0 North East Stars
Kicks from the penalty spot
North East Stars (3) W Connection (4)
1. Elijah Manners (saved) 1. Joevin Jones (scored)
2. Elton John (scored) 2. Silvio Spann (saved)
3. Kareem Moses (scored) 3. Tremain Shayn Paul (scored)
4. Keithy Simpson (saved) 4. Jomal Williams (scored)
5. Kennedy Hinkson (scored) 5. Clyde Leon (scored)
W Connection—21. Alejandro Figueroa, 8. Clyde Leon(capt.), 4. Daneil Cyrus (Yellow Card), 5. Eligah Joseph, 12. Gerrard Williams, 14, Hashim Arcia (42. Tremain Shayn Paul 69th), 17. Andrei Pacheco(29. Jomal Williams 59th) (Yellow Card), 25. Christian Viveros (Yellow Card) (20. Silvio Spann 89th), 26. Stefano Rijssel (Red Card), 32. Kurt Frederick, 36. Joevin Jones (Yellow Card).
Unused substitutes—22. Aquelius Sylvester, 2. Jelani Grosvenor, 39. Alvin Jones, 65. Neil Benjamin.
Coach—Stuart Charles Fevrier.
North East Stars—22. Cleon John (capt.), 2. Kareem Moses (Yellow Card), 4. Kerry Baptiste (Yellow Card+Yellow Card=Red Card), 6. Jeromie Williams (Yellow Card) (32. Keithy Simpson 77th), 7. Elijah Manners, 11. Elton John, 17. Jayson Joseph (45. Marcus Gomez 59th), 18. Kaashif Thomas (8. Micah Lewis 49th), 19. Glenton Wolfe, 23. Kennedy Hinkson, 25. Keryn Navarro.
Unused substitutes—1. Adrian Foncette, 9. Akiel Guevara, 12. Gary Glasgow, 15. Kaydion Gabriel.
Match Referee—Rodphin Harris
Assistant Referee 1—Dion Neil
Assistant Referee 2—Ainsley Rochard
Fourth Official—Neil Brizan