Former two-time World Youth Cup attacker Marcus “Lobo” Joseph got his first senior international goal tonight but coach Stephen Hart might have had mixed feelings about the outing, as the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team were held 2-2 away to Grenada.
The “Soca Warriors” travelled with a largely home-based 20 man squad, which included just two players, Daneil Cyrus and Shahdon Winchester, who featured in their last competitive match—a 1-0 loss to Haiti on 8 January 2016 in a Copa America Centenario play off.
The FIFA rankings pits Trinidad and Tobago as 41st in the world with Grenada at 161st. But, with a weakened travelling squad, there was little between the two Caribbean nations.
Hart used three debutantes in his starting team, as Jamali Garcia and Triston Hodge got the nudge in central defence and left back respectively while Jerwyn Balthazar played in central midfield.
The Warriors got off to a fine start too, as Winchester opened the scoring in the 25th minute. It was the W Connection attacker’s maiden senior international goal, some six years and eight caps since his debut in a 4-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda under then coach Russell Latapy.
However, Grenada, who have six international players in the TT Pro League competition, mustered a first half equaliser through Winchester’s Connection teammate, Jamal Charles.
“We completely dominated the first half in terms of ball possession, probably 80 to 20 percent in our favour,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “We created a number of chanced and the game should have been completed in the first half. But wasteful finishing meant a different story.”
The Warriors did not travel with a press officer or videographer and no footage from the match is available.
Hart conceded that his team did not quite keep their momentum in the second half.
“We made some changes in the second half and the intensity dropped,” said Hart, “but we still had better possession and we created chances again.”
Grenadian attacker Jake Rennie made the visitors pay in the 49th minute, supposedly against the run of play, as he converted past goalkeeper Adrian Foncette, who replaced Marvin Phillip at the interval.
“They had three good chances of which they scored two,” said Hart. “They were more clinical in front of goal. They played the game in the right spirit and all credit to them.
“Generally we possessed the ball well, we moved it well we got into good positions and created chances. There is not much more than you can really do but if you don’t take your chances this can happen.”
Joseph, who replaced Balthazar in the 56th minute, saved Trinidad and Tobago’s blushes with a late equaliser in the 93rd minute, which was the first international strike for the attacker who made his senior international debut in 2013 and has amassed just eight caps since then.
“We always looked like we would score,” said Hart. “But the way the game was going and the way we were squandering chances, you had a feeling it would be one of those games.
“But we kept plugging away and we got the goal at the end.”
Joseph, is felt to be a contender for the “number 10” role against St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Hart is without the injured pair of Kevin Molino and Keron Cummings while Ataullah Guerra recently moved to second tier United States team, Charleston Battery, and is uncertain to feature.
Joseph is on a hot streak at present with at least one goal in his last seven successive domestic games for Central FC and a total of eight items during that period.
Hart used four more uncapped players in the second half, as Adrian Foncette, Andre Ettienne, Nathaniel Garcia and Makesi Lewis all got their first taste of senior international action.
Central FC left back Kevon Villaroel and Club Sando utility player Akeem Humphrey were unused substitutes.
Trinidad and Tobago: Marvin Phillip (Adrian Foncette 46) (GK); Daneil Cyrus (Curtis Gonzales), Jamali Garcia (Andre Ettienne 70), Elijah Belgrave, Triston Hodge; Hughtun Hector (Nathaniel Garcia 81), Leston Paul; Sean De Silva, Jerwyn Balthazar (Marcus Joseph 56), Jomal Williams (Jason Marcano 65); Shahdon Winchester (Makesi Lewis 56).
Unused substitutes: Kevon Villaroel, Akeem Humphrey, Alvin Jones.
Coach: Stephen Hart