Fans ought not to be surprised if next week’s First Citizens Cup final between Central FC and North East Stars is decided from a penalty shootout as both teams progressed via that route last evening.
Central overcame Police FC 3-1, after three penalty saves from Trinidad and Tobago and Central custodian Jan-Michael Williams, while Stars edged San Juan Jabloteh 4-3 in an Ato Boldon Stadium double header. In both games, the only items came in the penalty shootout after goalless finishes in regular time.
At least North East Stars versus Jabloteh, the second game of the double header, promised a lot in the early stages.
Stars bolted out of the gates and looked set to give Jabloteh custodian Shane Mattis a long night as attacker Keron Cummings stung the big Jamaican’s fingertips with a left footed drive in only the first minute. Much of the first half play headed towards Mattis’ goal as Stars’ sharp, precise passing caused a few problems for the Jabloteh backline within the first half hour.
But the Sangre Grande-based team just could not get that clinical touch.
Things got worse for Mattis as he collided with one of his own defenders while collecting a through ball intended for Stars striker Tyrone Charles. The goalkeeper received treatment for approximately seven minutes before being helped off the field and into a waiting ambulance.
Mattis’ replacement, Raheem Belgrave, was quickly called to action as he held on to an effort from the in-form Charles on the second attempt in the 40th minute. But Jabloteh almost made Stars pay for their wastefulness, late in the first half, as neat combination by Kerry Baptiste and Newton Sterling but full back Jevon Morris in a promising position only for the latter player to send his shot sailing past captain and goalkeeper Cleon John’s right hand post.
There was less sting in the second half although both teams had chances to seal the result.
In the 62nd minute, Charles outpaced two Jabloteh defenders to make a long ball his but was blocked the alert Belgrave while, ten minutes later, he failed to apply the finishing touch to a precise Kennedy Hinkson cross.
Jabloteh almost stole the game in the 81st minute as veteran Baptiste a former Stars employee, saw his shot skim off the post.
In the end, North East Stars and Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 midfielder Kion Joseph had the honors of sending his team through to the final as he coolly tucked away the tenth kick of the shootout to give his team a 4-3 win on penalties.
North East Stars (4-2-3-1): 22.Cleon John (GK) (captain); 14.Dwane James, 15.Glenton Wolfe, 5.Aquil Selby, 25.Keryn Navarro (YC 74); 44.Kion Joseph, 6.Jeromie Williams; 12.Jayson Joseph (23.Kennedy Hinkson 61), 10.Keron Cummings, 42.Taryk Sampson (18.Kaashif Thomas 61); 9. Tyrone Charles.
Unused Substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 3.Kareem Richardson, 8.Adrian Noel, 35.Jordan Devonish, 36.Anthony Diaz.
Coach: Angus Eve
San Juan Jabloteh (4-1-3-2): 30.Shane Mattis (GK) (36.Raheem Belgrave [GK] 35); 18.Jevon Morris (13.Coneal Thomas 60), 24.Adrian Reid, 6.Dario Holmes, 4.Garth Thomas; 12.Brendon Boucaud; 9.Johan Peltier (23.Brendon Figuera 88), 10.Kerry Baptiste, 17.Fabian Reid, 7.Andell Noray, 8.Newton Sterling.
Unused Substitutes: 15.Duran Dilworth, 16.Nyron Jones, 19.Dillon Kirton, 23.Troy Moses.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Referee: Rodphin Harris
First Citizens Cup semifinal
(Fri Oct 25)
Central FC 0, Police FC 0 at Couva;
*–Central won 3-1 on penalties;
North East Stars 0, San Juan Jabloteh 0 at Couva;
Stars won 4-3 on penalties