Joe Public coach Derek King was obviously in his glee after his club snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, as they edged W Connection 3- 2, in an extra-time drama, in the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) FA Trophy Final at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya on Wednesday night.
“It’s really a joy,” said the 29-year-old, who is in his first full season as the team’s coach. “I feel after this day I’ll have to retire.
“At the end of the day, the guys really (played),” he continued. “It was a collective effort.”
Joe Public played the majority of the match with ten players after midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford was sent off by referee Neal Brizan in the 41st minute.
“When we went down to ten men, the guys showed that character, they fought for each other and it was outstanding.” King noted that he had no doubts that Joe Public will cop their third FA title, following victories in 2001 and 2007.
“As I told them, once we didn’t give away anything at the back, we’ll win the game, because we (were) creating chances,” he said. “Whenever we put down the ball, we looked like the better team.”
Concerning his team’s successful 2009 season, King noted: “I’m always a good believer in God, as well as hard work.
“We went out there, (from) pre-season to now and the guys really worked hard,” continued the former national defender. “It was a collective effort and I wouldn’t leave out the staff.
“I’m glad that the directors in the club believed in me to give me the job. And I produced this year.”
Kerry Baptiste notched his sixth goal of the FA Trophy competition, and 48th for the season, while an own goal from Eder Gilmar Arias, in the 90th minute, and Conrad Smith in the 117th guaranteed victory for Joe Public.
Baptiste, the team captain, stated, “words can’t explain how I feel right now but I’ll like to thank God for the wonderful season we’re having this year.
“Without (the) team, I don’t think anything would have been possible this year, with team, together everyone will achieve more.”
Concerning the secret to his success, the 28-year-old revealed, “I wouldn’t say luck, I’ll say hard work brings rewards.”
There was tension between both teams during the game, especially in extra-time.
“It was a final and the game will be hyped,” Baptiste commented. “It’s nothing personal because, at the end of the day, we’re all friends and we all respect each other.
But, when we meet (against each other), its war out here, that’s how it goes.” Smith, who netted the game-winner, admitted, “it’s a fantastic feeling. I can’t find the words to express myself.
“I think lightning striked twice for me,” he continued. “Last year I (won) a similar trophy in a similar fashion as well (for Caledonia AIA over Connection).
“At the end of the day, it’s just confidence,” added the 28-year-old Smith. “My confidence is high at the moment and I’m just looking to shoot every time I get the ball. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t, that’s how it goes in football.”
Stuart Charles-Fevrier, coach of W Connection, did not mince words when asked about his view of Wednesday’s game.
“It was a game we should have won easily, in my opinion,” he admitted. “We dominated and created much more opportunities than Joe Public but, at the end, we failed to take our chances.
“That has been the story for us this year,” continued the ex-St Lucia defender and national coach. “This year, in the local competition, it’s not that we’ve played badly.
As you can see (on Wednesday night) we played some good football. But we haven’t been able to get the results that we’re expected to get. And it’s really due to our offensive play. “We just (were) poor in front of goal,” he added. “That was our main problem this year and that’s something we’ll have to try and solve.”
Clyde Leon tied up the scores for Connection in the 37th and Matthew Bartholomew netted the go-ahead goal in the 81st, before Arias’ own goal, in the 90th, tilted the balance in Joe Public’s favour
“Sometimes it happens, and I don’t think he went deliberately to put it in the goal,” said Charles-Fevrier about Arias’ error. Comparing last year’s final to this one, the Connection coach affirmed, “I thought this year, we should not have lost.
“Last year, I think, was more balanced, between us and Caledonia. But this year for sure, we should not have lost. To me, we defeated ourselves.”
Charles-Fevrier acknowledged that his team failed to take full advantage of their player superiority for the majority of the game.
“The major let-down was our finishing,” he stressed. “Joe Public never troubled us that much. We, on the other hand, created several goal-scoring opportunities, but we weren’t able to take them.
“But the other departments of the game (were) okay,” Charles-Fevrier added. “We had the control of the game, we had much more ball possession, we were controlling things territorially but, at the end, we did not put the ball in the back of the net. That’s the important thing, goals win matches.”