Friday’s final of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield at the Hasely Crawford Stadium was not, in my opinion, a typical Caledonia AIA versus Defence Force game. The venue was familiar, the coaches were familiar, the teams were familiar but it was difficult in my view to recognize the tactics employed on the night.
In the first five minutes of the match, Caledonia got their noses in front thanks to a well taken penalty. But for the rest of the first half, the Morvant/Laventille men never found any consistency as their normal passing game was absent.
Not surprisingly, they hardly posed any problems for Defence Force up until the half-time whistle.
In the first five minutes of the game, Defence Force had two good goal scoring opportunities and they surprised everyone who knows these two teams well by controlling play territorially for most of the first half. It was they who took the game to their opponents and they deserved their equaliser, which came five minutes before half time.
There can be little doubt that the soldiers were tactically the better team in the first half and deserved to be level at the interval. However, in my opinion, they played too much in front of Caledonia’s defense and as a result hardly got the kind of penetration that would have increased their chances of going ahead on the scorecard.
When the second half began, things changed dramatically. The Defence Force players lacked concentration early on and conceded two quick goals, which allowed Caledonia to go 3-1 up.
Both teams immediately responded tactically to the new situation. Caledonia moved striker Jamal Gay to the flank before withdrawing him altogether while sending on an additional midfielder, Ataullah Guerra. It was a clear signal that they would now be playing to maintain their result.
Defence Force opted, not surprisingly, for a more offensive approach, and sacrificed a defender to go with three instead of their usual four at the back while bringing on an extra attacker.
But from that point onwards, they generally gave up far too much space in their defense and never looked organised enough to pull closer to their opponents on the scorecard.
In fact, if Caledonia had not failed to capitalise on some good counter-attack situations and squandered the numerous opportunities that came their way, the margin of victory would have been much wider.
In the event, AIA successfully maintained their 3 -1 advantage until the end and deservedly walked away with the 2012 Lucozade Sport Gold Shield title.