A storming second half performance by NLCB La Horquetta SA saw the Premier Division club advance to the quarterfinal round of the CNG National Super League (NSL) this afternoon at the expense of Championship Division challengers, Cunupia FC, at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar.
The final result read: La Horquetta SA 3, Cunupia FC 1.
“We’ve had a tough season but the guys deserved the result today,” La Horquetta technical director Jude John told Wired868, after the final whistle. “Cunupia played well. (They had) good cohesion, good passing on the ball, good running off the ball…”
In the other camp, Cunupia coach Michael De Four put on a brave face but his mood was as gloomy as the weather.
“It was an alright game,” said De Four. “Honestly, I don’t think they had anything on us. We had more control of the game in the first half but in the second half, after their goal, we opened up to play because it is a knock out (and conceded another goal).
“If it was a league game, we would have handled it differently.”
At present, La Horquetta are third from bottom in the Premier Division standings and, with the last two teams relegated to the Championship Division at the end of the season, are fighting for their survival.
Cunupia, on the other hand, are third in the Championship and pushing for promotion to the Premier Division.
Today’s Knock Out fixture might have carried additional incentive for either team to prove their worth to the other. Perhaps 18-year-old Taje Commissiong did not get the memo. He was late to the venue.
In fact, La Horquetta, despite playing less than five minutes drive from home in Malabar, had just 15 players by kick off. Cunupia, in contrast, had a full 18-man squad.
“One or two guys have work (commitments),” said John, as he explained La Horquetta’s custom of turning up without a full squad, “but we are trying to organise that by the second round.”
Despite the close proximity of the La Horquetta and Malabar districts, it actually takes two taxis to get from one area to the other. John insisted that the Larry Gomes Stadium was not really a home ground for his players.
“We are organising our home field so we can bring the guys back to play in front of their community,” said John. “Hopefully, we can sort that out by the second round.”
John, who is always talking and never short of a wisecrack, comes across as a solution-oriented guy. But then you would have to be when you get dressed with one game plan in mind, and get to the ground to discover one of your best players, Commissiong, hasn’t arrived as yet.
The score was 1-1 at the interval when John sent the teenager into the match. Within 10 minutes, La Horquetta were ahead.
Kern Roberts, whose first half goal was cancelled out by Cunupia’s Stevon Stoute, stepped in off the right flank and delivered a fine cross at the last post where Commissiong rose to head into the far corner.
“That is the juice, Taj!” someone shouted from the substitutes bench. “That is the juice!”
Cunupia, apparently, were not drinking the right stuff. Their captain Dillon Walker shot just over from the edge of the area in the 61st minute. Two minutes later, tireless Cunupia midfielder Dillon Charles came closer still with a firm drive that squirmed away from La Horquetta custodian Sean Marshall but struck the upright and rebounded into play.
La Horquetta gave as good as they got, though.
In the 65th minute, Commissiong’s elder brother, 20-year-old Fedric Commissiong—incidentally, Fedric’s twin, Cedric Commissiong, played at left back for La Horquetta—cut in off the left flank and spanked an effort off the bar.
All the while, the players received live commentary from roughly two dozen La Horquetta supporters who managed to make themselves clearly heard, despite being over 100 metres away in the upper row of the covered stands.
Cunupia’s Brazilian left back, Owayran Osman, was a regular target of the fans, as he seemed unable to stay out of the action.
An example of a typical tirade from the fans came in the 70th minute, as Roberts flattened Osman with a strong, sliding challenge.
“Good tackle boy!” they shouted, although referee Gordon Maloney immediately whistled for a foul. “Good tackle!”
Maloney flashed a yellow card at Roberts. Cue outrage.
“Referee, you’re an a%%$^ boy!”
Osman was still on the ground receiving attention.
“Red man, you is cookies and cream man!” they yelled. “Get up!”
In the 70th minute, Osman, who was booked earlier for a stamp on Taje, got himself in trouble for cynically stopping a run by La Horquetta substitute Omeaku Barbour.
Barbour had to be immediately taken off with a gash above his right eye. Maloney had waved play on at the time, as La Horquetta retained possession.
But, remarkably, the referee did not revisit the scene of the crime to give Osman either a straight red card or a second yellow.
“Red man, doh f^&*ing come out the stadium eh!” yelled the La Horquetta faithful.
Some La Horquetta players seemed hellbent on exacting revenge there and then. But calm was eventually restored.
“Some of these referees never kick a pebble,” said John, to no one and everyone at the same time, “and as soon as somebody tells them something, they get vexed!”
Cunupia were throwing on fresh legs in the attacking third of the field now, as they chased an equaliser.
The crowd offered De Four advice on his pending changes.
“Take off the red man and send him up in the stands for we!”
Osman played the full 90 minutes, though, and twice came close to conjuring up an equaliser.
In the 73rd minute, Osman drifted a free kick a foot wide of the near post. And, in the 87th minute, he picked out Stoute in the opposing box and the bustling striker outfoxed his marker but then dragged his shot wide.
La Horquetta’s final substitute, Wesley “Sniper” Elcock, did not win himself many friends in the stands either, as, in the closing minutes, he took a heavy touch on the ball and conceded possession to, of all people, the ‘villainous’ Osman.
“Steupssssssss!” moaned the supporters.
Three minutes into stoppage time, Elcock got a chance to atone, though. Cunupia defender Raymond Alleyne played an awkward back-pass to his goalkeeper, Andy Thomas, and, under duress, Thomas cleared the ball straight at the La Horquetta sub.
From just eight yards out and with the goalkeeper out of position, “Sniper” could not miss. He celebrated by sprinting towards the crowd and punching the air.
“Sniper boy, how they could have you on the bench?!” one fan wanted to know.
De Four conceded that La Horquetta deserved the win in the end. But he refused to entertain any talk about the Premier teams being superior to their Championship counterparts and pointed out that the latter division was hastily arranged and did not afford teams a proper pre-season.
“In the end, I think the better team won,” said De Four. “But I don’t think there is any difference between the two divisions. The only difference this year is we didn’t get as much time to prepare (in the pre-season) like the Premier teams.
“We only found out (about the competition) about two weeks before the League opened. Had we known last year or three months before, we would have walked through this League.”
By then, John was happy enough to even kiss and make up with referee, Maloney.
“To me, as the 90 minutes done I go past that,” said John, in reference to the Osman flashpoint. “We had meetings about the officiating in the League already… Sometimes they will make a good decision, sometimes they make a bad decision. That is sports.
“No grudge (held) after the final whistle.”
And with that, La Horquetta are through to next Sunday’s quarterfinals where they will face Premier Division leaders, Guaya United, from 3.30 pm at the Guaya Recreation Ground.
Hopefully, Taje will be on time.
NLCB La Horquetta SA (4-2-1-3): 1.Sean Marshall (GK); 18.Kerron St Cyr, 19.Ricardo Cornwall, 5.Sherwayne Morris, 14.Cedric Commissiong; 4.Sean Mulzac, 6.Atiba Hackette (captain); 10.Antonio Auguste (11.Omeaku Barbour 60 [12.Wesley Elcock 77]); 15.Kern Roberts, 9.Keston Jones (13.Taje Commissiong 46), 17.Fedric Commissiong,
Unused substitutes: 2.Kadeem Sampson.
Coach: Jude John
Cunupia FC (4-1-4-1): 1.Andy Thomas (GK); 12.Jamal Spencer, 2.Raymond Alleyne, 6.Dale Simon, 16.Owayran Osman; 23.Dillon Charles (21.Shane Glasgow 89); 9.Omari Lezama (25.Andrew Tinto 66), 8.Dillon Walker (captain), 11.Lester Joseph, 7.Eduardo Guedes (19.Antonio Calliste 84); 17.Stevon Stoute.
Unused substitutes: 13.Kevin Graham (GK), 14.Nkosi McQueen, 15.Kyle Mack, 18.Cascian Forde,
Coach: Michael De Four
Referee: Gordon Maloney
Man of the Match: Kern Roberts (La Horquetta SA)
CNG National Super League Knock Out
(Sunday October 11)
NLCB La Horquetta SA 3 (Kern Roberts 21, Taje Commissiong 56, Wesley Elcock 90), Cunupia FC 1 (Stevon Stoute 29) at Larry Gomes;
Guaya United 3 (Carlon Hughes 67, 86, Kheelon Mitchell 72), Club Sando Moruga 2 (Silus Cooper 83, OG 88) at Guaya Recreation Ground;
Marabella Family CC 2 (Juma Clarence 28, Levi Garcia 77), Police FC 1 (Jason Boodram 63) at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Defence Force 3 (Ronald St Louis 10, 70, Michael Edwards 78), FC Santa Rosa 1 at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium training ground;
Prisons FC 12 (Lance Haynes 4, 24, 31, Stephen Julien 22, 66, Gabriel Gour 29, Cleve Moore 30, Ricardo Alleyne 39, Curtis Carrington 57, 90, Kwesi Jeffery 83, OG 87), Stokely Vale 2 (Kevin Thomas 42, 77) at YTC, Arouca;
Tobago Phoenix 1 (Le’jandro Williams 35), WASA FC 0 at Canaan Recreation Ground;
Petrotrin Palo Seco 2 (Eustace Darius 30, 57), Matura ReUnited 1 (Kerin Vincent 36) at Palo Seco Velodrome.
CNG NSL Championship Division
(Wednesday October 14)
Saddle Hill Hotspur v Edinburgh 500, 7 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Petit Valley Utd v Xtra Foods Chaguanas FC, 7 pm, Northern Recreation Ground, Diego Martin;
QPCC v UTT, 7 pm, Dibe Recreation Ground, Long Circular;
(Thursday October 15)
Club Sando v Matura ReUnited, 4 pm, Grand Chemin Recreation Ground;
Police FC v WASA FC, 4 pm, St James Barracks;
Bethel United v Guaya Utd, 5 pm, Montgomery Recreation Ground;
Real Maracas FC v Defence Force, 5 pm, Maracas Recreation Ground;
FC Santa Rosa v Marabella Family CC, 5 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium;
Tobago FC Phoenix v Stokely Vale, 5 pm, Canaan Recreation Ground;
Petrotrin Palo Seco v Siparia Spurs, 6 pm, Palo Seco Velodrome;
CNG NSL Knock Out
(Sunday October 18)
Siparia Spurs v Bethel United, Round of 16, 3.30 pm, Petrotrin Ground, Fyzabad;
Guaya United v La Horquetta SA, Quarterfinal, 3.30 pm, Guaya Recreation Ground;
Marabella Family CC v Petrotrin P/Seco, Quarterfinal, 3.30 pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Defence Force v Prisons FC, Quarterfinal, TBA, TBA.