“We had a real good week,” said DIRECTV W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier. “We qualified for the (CONCACAF) Champions League, which was top of our list. This is about our 30th trophy in the 13 years we have been in existence…
“I was happy for the players because they worked very hard this season and it paid off.”
The W Connection football club was back on the winner’s podium on Friday night at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya but it was by the narrowest of margins. A goalless 90-minute spell was followed by a 4-3 penalty shoot-out triumph that lifted the “Savonetta Boys” over North East Stars in the 2013 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield final.
Stars coach Angus Eve won this season’s Toyota Classic—his first trophy as head coach—via penalties and he was not about to moan about the injustice of it all now.
“The team with the better vibes on the night and with the luck going for them won,” said Eve. “It is a lottery… I want to congratulate Connection on their victory. It was a very competitive game.
“It was 0-0 but it was not a dull game.”
In some ways, the Shield final was more a coach’s delight than a crowd pleaser.
Connection set out to boss the game through ball possession. Stars wanted to make sure that it was not dangerous possession. Eve and Fevrier might both have been relatively pleased at halftime.
For spectators, a caution for Stars midfielder Kerry Baptiste, earned by tugging the shirt of Connection captain Clyde Leon, was the total of the first half’s action.
Eve conceded that Connection controlled the opening 45 minutes and blamed this on Stars’ inactivity over the past two weeks while the former club participated in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifiers.
“I thought they were a bit more match ready,” he said. “That augured well for them. They were bit a quicker to the ball and their ball possession was a bit better. But we came on much better after I made some changes in the second half.”
Fevrier admitted that Stars improved after the break. He attributed this to the break that the Sangre Grande team got over the last fortnight.
“We were not as fresh as we would have liked to be,” said Fevrier. “So we played a very tactical game and tried to control the game as much as possible. We felt that if we controlled the game, we could maintain our energy level and have a better chance of winning the game…
“Overall, I thought we had much more control and we deserved to win.”
It is fair to say that Fevrier and Eve approach the game differently. And, on the night, both teams struggled to make an impact where it mattered most.
It meant that referee Rodphin Harris’ role became more important. Harris might not have altered the outcome but some of his decisions were certainly conversation starters.
In the 58th minute, Jones shaped to shoot in the area only to trip over the outstretched leg of Stars defender Glenton Wolfe. Harris did not whistle.
He did make a call in the 72nd minute though as he flashed a second yellow card at Baptiste after he went over the ball in a mistimed tackle on Connection defender Daneil Cyrus.
Connection attacker Stefano Rijssel was ejected next after he supposedly told his teammates to “lift their f***ing game.”
“(Harris) is one of the young referees who has potential in my opinion,” said Fevrier. “I think he is still developing but he has to try not to let emotions get involved in decision making. Sometimes his emotions influence his decisions in that he will react because he is annoyed with a player and not because the player did something deserving of a card.”
Eve was less generous.
“None of the red cards were deserved,” he said. “Kerry tried to nick the ball from an attacker and he was a little off. Anybody who knows Kerry knows that he is not a nasty player and a more experienced referee would have understood that.
“I think it was ridiculous that Trinidad and Tobago’s best and most experienced referee, Neal Brizan, was fourth official for the game and not the referee.”
Jones produced some glimpses of potential but could not penetrate a Stars team that regularly defended with six players. And Stars, without the injured Cornell Glen, lacked bite on the counter.
So, penalties decided the contest.
Elijah Manners was first up and was denied by Connection goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa diving low to his left. Jones and Elton John converted the next two spot kicks for either team before Stars captain Cleon John made a brilliant stop to deny substitute Silvio Spann.
Stars defender Kareem Moses and Connection midfielder Tremain Paul scored next before Keithy Simpson was also blocked while try to score low to his right.
Kennedy Hinkson gave Stars a glimmer of hope but Jomal Williams and Leon finished emphatically to give Connection its first title of the season.
“We have only gone two years without winning a trophy in our 13 years as a club,” said Fevrier. “No matter what you do, it is all about winning titles in the end. You have to strive to play good football but you want to be a champion as well.”
And, on Friday, Connection was enjoying a familiar role; as champions.
DIRECTV W Connection: 21.Alejandro Figueroa; 25.Christian Viveros (20.Silvio Spann 89), 5.Elijah Joseph, 4.Daneil Cyrus, 32.Kurt Frederick; 12.Gerrard Williams, 8.Clyde Leon (captain); 36.Joevin Jones; 17.Andrei Pacheco (29.Jomal Williams 59), 14.Hashim Arcia (42.Tremain Paul 69), 26.Stefano Rijssel [Red Card].
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 2.Jelani Grosvenor, 39.Alvin Jones, 65.Neil Benjamin.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
North East Stars: 22.Cleon John (captain); 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 2.Kareem Moses, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 11.Elton John; 25.Keryn Navarro; 17.Jayson Joseph (45.Marcus Gomez 59), 6.Jeromie Williams (32.Keithy Simpson 77), 4.Kerry Baptiste [Red Card], 18.Kaashif Thomas (8.Micah Lewis 49); 7.Elijah Manners.
Unused substitutes: 1.Adrian Foncette (GK), 9.Akeil Guevara, 12.Gary Glasgow, 15.Kaydion Gabriel.
Coach: Angus Eve
Referee: Rodphin Harris