Thu, Feb

Wolf Pack FC members celebrate victory in the Sweet Sixteen Football League at the Ojoe Recreation Ground, Sangre Grande, Saturday July 30th 2022. PHOTO: Stephon Nicholas

WOLF Pack FC rallied from two goals down on Saturday night to snatch a thrilling 4-3 victory over Cool It FC, in extra time, in the final of the Sweet Sixteen Football League at the Ojoe Road Recreation Ground, Sangre Grande.

The win saw Wolf Pack FC pocket the $60,000 first prize while Cool It had to settle for $20,000.

In front of hundreds of fans, Wolf Pack went hunting for goals early. Star forward Kevon "Showtime" Woodley had a glorious chance to put his team in front but his header was saved by Cool It custodian Keston Aberdeen.

The Cool It defence was caught sleeping again as Woodley was played through on goal down the centre but took too long to pull the trigger as Aberdeen raced off his line to snuff out the danger.

Wolf Pack would be left ruing those misses as they found themselves trailing soon after.

Cool It left winger Brendon Figuero latched onto a hopeful ball over the defence and squared it across the goal for veteran striker Dorian "Bunny" Robinson to complete a simple tap in.

Cool It midfielder and Caribbean Games MVP Che Benny looked slightly off the pace with two uncharacteristic mis-controls but soon began to pull the strings.

Playing down the right flank, Benny cut inside on his favoured left foot and lifted a pass into the danger area where Robinson ghosted in to stab it into the goal.

Figuero's pace and trickery were proving a handful down the left and he almost had another assist with a cross, but Robinson's bullet header from close range was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Wolf Pack goalie Chervon De Sormeaux.

Robinson had another crack at goal soon after but his strike was blocked by a desperate lunge from a defender.

Against the run of play, Wolf Pack pulled one back through Denrick Eve in the 32nd minute. Slipped through on goal, Eve made no mistake with a cool finish past Aberdeen.

And on the stroke of halftime, Woodley struck to stun the Cool It supporters.

From a right-sided free kick, the 36-year-old outjumped his marker and contorted his body to guide a header into the net.

The goal seemed to deflate Cool It as the half-time whistle went almost immediately after.

Wolf Pack manager Brandon Maharaj told Newsday that the early deficit did not faze his team.

"To be honest, we are a team. We don't care about individuals. We always know that at the end of the day, once we stick to what we doing and what we believe, we will always come back – 2-0, 3-0, 4-0 down, that don't bother us. We will always play to the end," Maharaj said.

Wolf Pack came out hungry for goals in the second period and Woodley should have bagged his second on a lightning counter, but his low left-footed strike was drilled onto the outside of the post with Aberdeen frozen.

Woodley almost got the go-ahead goal after a mix-up between Aberdeen and his defence but central defender Perry Parris was there to clear the danger.

Confusion in the Cool It penalty box again gifted Wolf Pack their first lead of the match in the 74th. A long free kick from the half-line caused uncertainty between Aberdeen and his last defender. Woodley took full advantage of the hesitation to get his studs around the defender who was trying to shield him and poke the ball into the net.

Cool It looked devoid of ideas in the attacking third and resorted to long-range shots from captain Keron Cummings.

Their manager Sherwin "Pigeon" Joseph looked a frustrated man on the sideline engaging in a bit of banter with Woodley as the clock ticked.

However, his disappointment turned into glee as Jamal Antoine fired in the equaliser to send the match into extra time.

Wolf Pack were not to be denied, and a set piece again proved Cool It's undoing in the 93rd. Jameel Perry rose highest to meet a left-side corner with a textbook goodnight nod that directed the ball down into the far corner of the net.

With just six minutes a half in extra time, Cool It could not conjure another goal.

Maharaj said Wolf Pack FC, originally a hockey-post team, were deserved winners with better chemistry and style of play.

Asked about his goals and tit-for-tat with the Cool It manager, Woodley said he knew he would score as his two early misses would even themselves. "The game is about out-thinking your opponent, and that's something I'm good at. They tried to get in my head but that wouldn't work," he said.

In the earlier third-place match, Athletico beat G Madrid 2-1 to win the $7,000 prize.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday