When it’s nice, do it twice.
Vibe CT 105 W Connection regained the First Citizens Bank Cup when they defeated Defence Force 3-2 on Friday at Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
“Be decisive with your kicks and make sure they are struck firm,” coach Reynold Carrington appealed to his players, who had experienced a penalty shootout before and had something to draw on, having won the only other final in the T&T Professional Football League earlier in the season against Jabloteh.
Both finalists displayed quality football, with Earl Jean opening the scoring for W Connection in the sixth minute and Defence Force equalising through an own goal in the 39th.
“W” started the second session in the same manner as the first, with an early strike by Silvio Spann from the penalty spot (47th) and climaxed with a second penalty on the opposite end, taken by Kurt Williams in the 62nd.
The atmosphere in the stands, produced by rhythm sections, overflowed on to the field , as the players seemed energised by it all. The vocal support by the fans helped to make the night one to remember with football the winner all the way.
After the match people flowed out of the stadium satisfied that they got their money’s worth.
“For the Pro League to be successful we need the public,” coach Carrington of the winning team, said afterwards.
“Football without spectators don’t motivate the players. The reason why the game was so good is that the players were motivated to play because the public came out in large numbers to support the two teams.”
W Connection’s utility player, Joseph, turned from villain to hero, as he gave away both goals for Defence Force to get back into the match and made up by scoring his crucial third penalty in the shootout.
Level-headed WCFC goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa, whose positioning has been a key asset, must be given full credit as he made two saves to deny Defence Force of repeating their performance of 2002 ( 2-0 win in the final).
Alejandro saved the second kick from Christon Baptiste and the fifth by Ronald St Louis while the third by Jerwyn Balthazar was placed overbar.
Ordelle Armstrong kicked first for Defence Force and scored while Anton Pierre was also successful with his kick.
Spann, Brazilian Jose Luiz Seabra and Joseph were all on target for WCFC in that order. Nicholson “Ice” Thomas the only player to miss.
The first 20 minutes of the match belonged to W Connection, who created three good openings, scoring one from St Lucian Jean.
Jean, positioned on the first post, headed home a Jose Luiz Seabra curling right side corner with his left foot.
Six minutes after the goal, Jean had to leave the field damaging his quadriceps muscle (front thigh). He was replaced by Bevon Lewis, formerly of Starworld Strikers.
Defence Force was lucky to equalise. Trying to defend a cross on the ground from the left Joseph, who was just outside the six-yard box away from the goal-line, spliced the ball with his right foot, the error giving Alejandro no chance.
At the beginning of the second-half, a handled ball inside the area gave W Connection a penalty and Spann made no mistake, shooting to the left of ‘keeper Selwyn George.
Defence Force drew level a second time when Joseph fouled Armstrong in the box and Williams converted a well-struck penalty.
W Connection missed two clear-cut opportunities to seal the game through Kendall Davis and Bevon Lewis while Army missed one good chance by Baptiste.
CEO of the Pro League Dexter Skeene paid tribute to the crowd and the standard of football displayed by the players of both teams.
“In the long run, football was the winner,” said Skeene. “Tribute must be paid to FCB and the fans for supporting the Pro League.”
“The Pro League marketing committee is pleased that our approach to marketing is reaping benefits as patrons came out in their numbers to support the final.
“The committee continues to implement its marketing plan which is focused on giving the sponsors and fans value for money, encouraging them to keep returning.
“A conscious decision was taken to incorporate aspects of T&T culture to enhance the package offered and improve the attractiveness of the event.”
VIBE CT 105 W CONNECTION 2 (Earl Jean 6th, Silvio Spann 47th -pen) v DEFENCE FORCE 2 (Elijah Joseph — own goal 39th; Kurt Williams 83rd — pen) — W Connection won 3-2 on penalties.
Third and fourth place play-off
STARWORLD STRIKERS 4 (Linsie Sherwood 29th and 77th; Andre Charles 31th, Errol Charles 54th) v NORTH EAST STARS 1 (Jerren Nixon 15th).
W Connection $35,000, FCB Cup and gold medals;
Defence Force $25,000 and silver medals;
Starworld Strikers $20,000; North East Stars $16,000.