Late goals on the stroke of half and full time by forwards Errol McFarlane and Stern John earned Trinidad and Tobagos senior team a come from behind 2-1 victory over St Kitts/Nevis in Saturday nights 2006 World Cup semi-final round qualifier at Warner Park, Basseterre.
The result pushed T&T to six points from their first two away matches going into Wednesdays clash with Mexico at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
They say the team that wins the game is the one that takes their chances, coach Bertille St Clair told TTFF Media after the win. You are always going to makes mistakes. Even though we have six points on the road now and I wont say that we are safe into the next round because we still have four more games including Mexico. St Kitts were a fighting team and they were quicker to the ball than us in the first half. We were missing two key players in the middle and we were not clicking until we got our rhythm in the second half. They had two quick guys on the side of the park and they were getting chances but we were able to overcome this. They guys deserved credit for fighting down to the end.
The encounter turned out to be a closely contested one and St Clairs team had to depend on the last gasp items after squandering earlier scoring chances.
John had T&Ts first real offer at goal when he collected a right side ball from Kenwyne Jones and turned before rifling a shot off the crossbar in the 15th minute. But the Sugar Boyz responded a minute later when Ian Lake shot from atop the penalty box forced Kelvin Jack to make a superb push over. Both teams were now getting into their rhythm with T&T finding it harder to get their act together on the hard surface.
On 23 minutes Keith Gumbs had Jack saving and just before the half hour the big Dundee custodian again came up big to prevent to stop Lakes low effort. Soon after, with defender Brent Sancho off the pitch receiving treatment for a cut above the eye, the home side got a free kick on the edge of the box and George Isaacs low strike took a deflection of John on its way into the left corner of the net for the opening item.
T&T persisted and had the last say in the final minute of the half when Sanchos superb long ball up the left side had John running and hitting across the goal for an alert McFarlane to push over the line with keeper Akil Byron in no mans land.
It was just the finish T&T were hoping for as the Angostura Woodbrook Playboys Steel Orchestra took over the sounds as the 60 strong T&T fans including Jack Warner, Gary Glasgow and Angus Eve made their presence felt.
The second half provided few opportunities for either team to go ahead but John threw away the simplest of chances in the 58th minute when he was sent through on a one on one with the keeper and somehow managed to play it in easy to the advancing Byron.
T&T, while officials from the Mexico team were looking on from the stands, were finding it difficult to break down the home side which were having the better of the exchanges in the middle of the park with Isaac for one making some surging runs. But T&Ts back line of skipper Marvin Andrews, Dennis Lawrence, Marlon Rojas, Kenwyne Jones and Sancho were letting nothing go by while Brent Rahim and Andre Boucaud battled it out in midfield.. Sancho would have surely walked away with the Man of the Match award for his efforts even while with his head heavily bandaged.
John took matters into his own on 70 minutes, going past three defenders on the way to goal but his shot was a weak one and then Dwarika found substitute Cornell Glen on the run but his effort was cleared off the line.
Just when it seemed that both teams would have to settle for a point, John came up big. Sancho again was involved as he picked out Andrews whose cross took a deflection and John was there to nick it over the line from close up to send T&T into a late frenzy and leave the rest of Warner Park heartbroken.
Andrews, wearing the armband in place of Angus Eve, was pleased with the result.We than God for the six points so far and we couldnt have hoped for a better start. We have a really hard game on Wednesday and now our confidence level is high going into this one. We have been able to come from a goal down and that augers well because normally we are a team that bows under pressure but this current side has shown strong character. Theres still some way before this team hits peak but were getting there, Andrews ended.
1.Kelvin Jack, 2.Marlon Rojas, 4.Marvin Andrews (capt), 5.Brent Sancho, 16.Dennis Lawrence, 19.Kenwyne Jones, 7.Andre Boucaud (13.Cornell Glen 70th), 9.Arnold Dwarika, 11.Brent Rahim, 14.Stern John, 15.Errol McFarlane (12.Denzil Theobald, 86th).
T&T Subs Not Used:
21.Clayton Ince, 6.Derek King, 10.Jason Scotland, 18.Silvio Spann, 3.Stokely Mason.
Probably St Kitts/Nevis Line-Up:
Akil Byron - Floyd Hodge, Keithroy Richards, Alexis Riley, Toussaint Riley, Austin Huggins, Darren Hinds, Keith Gumbs, Daryl Gomez, George Isaac, Ian Lake (Alister Warner).