DirecTV W Connection and Defence Force will contest the 2016 Digicel Pro Bowl final on Friday May 27 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, after both teams eked through a forgettable 180 minutes of football last night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Connection needed kicks from the penalty mark to eclipse Japs North East Stars, as they emerged 4-2 victors from the spot after neither team managed a goal during regulation time.
While, in the second match of the Port of Spain double header, an own goal from Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh defender Aquil Selby settled the affair, 1-0, in Defence Force’s favour.
Semifinals are normally cagey, uninspiring affairs—whether they involve Manchester City or San Juan Jabloteh. But with the Pro League title already sewn up by Central FC and the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team selected yesterday for exhibition matches against Peru, Uruguay and China, there is an anti-climactic whiff about the local top flight.
The “Soca Warriors” enter a live-in camp tomorrow in Couva, although all 14 Pro League players—who comprise more than half of coach Stephen Hart’s team—still have domestic fixtures outstanding.
Worse, Jabloteh and Defence Force are still fighting for a sole CONCACAF Champions League qualifying match but each club will lose a key player—Nathan Lewis (Jabloteh) and Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force)—for their decisive closing fixture on May 21, as the Warriors fly to Lima on May 20.
And, when Connection and the Army/Coast Guard combination contest the TT$100,000 Pro Bowl final on May 27, their fixture will clash with the Warriors’ high profile friendly against Uruguay, which should be beamed live to local fans.
Five Connection players—club captain Hughtun Hector, Daneil Cyrus, Jomal Williams, Shahdon Winchester and Triston Hodge—will be in Montevideo rather than Couva.
The scheduling conflicts would have jarred, even if the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams wasn’t a club owner with Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene as a TTFA board member.
Still no word either from the almost permanently silent TTFA as to whether, for only the second time in the last 36 years, there will be no TTFA FA Trophy competition this year.
Last night, there wasn’t quite enough on the field of play to distract from the uncertainties off it.
Stars veteran Kerry Baptiste clipped the bar with a header, midway through the first half. But, that apart, both teams saved the drama for the second half.
And 24 year old Connection custodian and St Kitts and Nevis international, Julani Archibald, gave the “Savonetta Boys” the advantage with a brilliant save low to his left to deny Stars midfielder Kerry Daniel.
Stars midfielder Chike Sullivan drilled his team’s next penalty off the base of the post as all four Connection kickers converted to book their place in the final.
The second contest similarly flickered without ever coming to life.
Jabloteh goalkeeper and Grenada international Shemel Louison made a fine save to his right to keep out a Devorn Jorsling free kick for Defence Force in the 14th minute. And Fabian Reid just missed the top left hand corner with an overhead kick in the 16th minute, after a Tyrone Charles cross.
Otherwise, both teams struggled to get behind their opponents.
Defence Force midfielder Hashim Arcia eventually helped provide the breakthrough, although he still needed help from Selby, who inadvertently deflected the former player’s cross past the Jabloteh goalkeeper.
Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey, as usual, was late with his substitutions but any of his three changes might have altered the course of the match.
Utility player Kennedy Hinkson’s goal-bound stab from inside the six yard box took a telling deflection off a Defence Force player and dribbled out for a corner kick in the 77th minute.
Josiah Trimmingham came even closer for the “San Juan Kings”, as he ran on to a long ball from central defender Adrian Reid and poked around opposing custodian Sheldon Clarke, only for Akile Edwards to clear off the goal line.
And, in stoppage time, Jabloteh attacker Brent Sam almost conjured up an equaliser with an angled drive but was kept out at the near post by an alert Clarke.
Jabloteh will try to avenge their defeat by pipping Defence Force to second spot and a place in the 2017/18 CONCACAF Champions League qualifying series. But, due to scheduling conflict, they won’t have Lewis to help.
Defence Force (4-1-4-1): 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK); 13.Marvin Jones, 8.Curtis Gonzales, 2.Glen Franklin, 21.Akile Edwards; 20.Levi Serries; 12.Jemel Sebro, 10.Hashim Arcia (52.Stephan Campbell 85), 11.Akeem Roach (99.Jerwyn Balthazar 75), 17.Ross Russell Jr; 9.Devorn Jorsling (captain) (26.Richard Roy 81).
Unused substitutes: 80.Aaron Enil (GK), 3.Jamali Garcia, 7.Jelani Felix, 30.Kishun Seecharan.
Coach: Marvin Gordon
San Juan Jabloteh (4-2-3-1): 30.Shemel Louison (GK); 18.Jevon Morris, 21.Aquil Selby (17.Josiah Trimmingham 84), 24.Adrian Reid, 6.Akeem Benjamin; 11.Damian Williams (captain), 8.Keyon Edwards (23.Kennedy Hinkson 76); 13.Fabian Reid, 10.Tyrone Charles, 27.Nathan Lewis; 7.Jamal Gay (9.Brent Sam 89).
Unused substitutes: 35.Andrew Durant (GK), 14.Sean Bonval, 4.Garth Thomas, 16.Kaashif Thomas.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Referee: Gyasi McDonald
Man of the Match: Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force)
Pro Bowl semifinal results
(Friday May 13)
W Connection 0, North East Stars 0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium,
*—Connection won 4-2 on kicks from the penalty mark;
Defence Force 1 (Aquil Selby OG 71), San Juan Jabloteh 0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Pro Bowl Final
(Friday May 27)
W Connection vs Defence Force, TBA, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Remaining Pro League fixtures
(Tuesday May 17)
San Juan Jabloteh vs Central FC, 7 pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;
W Connection vs St Ann’s Rangers, 7 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Friday May 20)
Central FC vs St Ann’s Rangers, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Club Sando vs W Connection, 8 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Saturday May 21)
Defence Force vs Morvant Caledonia United, 4 pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh vs North East Stars, 4 pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Point Fortin Civic vs Police FC, 6 pm, Mahaica Oval.
i had liked the old season set up actually the march to November / December always felt like you had a year of football and as a former teacher it meant i had something to do during august holidays lol
good luck to the guys that were picked anyway….
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1 own goal in 180 minuyes of football *yawns* how boring.
It was bad as it sounds unfortunately.
Only first 30 mins of DF vs. Jabloteh was entertaining
Not even Kirwin. Stop playing…
Well at least they were getting shots at goal Chabeth and the intensity was a bit higher for that spell than all of the first game.
Even the bacchanal with the fourth official and referee decisions were creating a stir =D =D =D
Lol. Yes, fourth official provided some laughter as did a couple of the coaches (won’t call any names ??) with their antics and quarrelling. But even that was insufficient entertainment…didn’t spend money to see ppl gesticulate on the sidelines!
The one thing i can say is ‘fry’ is a great player in the middle
Yeah and the President of the TTFA chosed my Police winning Coach eh Richard Hood to coach the Women’s team eh because meh police team was going and win the league eh, and also my bestest goal keeper Adrian Foncette who also went on a try out in Europe eh, alyuh see how the Coach or a players does really make a difference when they are not around with the team eh. Them really good yes. Hahahaha
Police and Defence Force faded badly after the Christmas break. Don’t know what those servicemen do so for the Christmas period.
Must be some slamming Old Years parties!
And Mango was probably the deejay too, but he asking. Lol
Hahahaha not me nah, I am only deejaying for meh Ex Soldiers the Def Masters eh.
The conflicts now are because the league delayed some matches to accommodate the national team earlier during the season?
Maybe. But they could have been more diligent in the scheduling anyway. Generally in a cup competition, the league stops for two to three weeks even though there are obviously just four teams left after the first match day and two at the end.
They should let the eliminated teams play their games to keep the competition going.
I feel they were not mindful of that and just caught with a backlog of matches at the end.
Sounding like a league that needs to start in August…
Or run from March to December. Trinis don’t stick with Christmas and Carnival. Those two periods cause problems. Our old schedule was more in tune with our culture. The current schedule is built to mesh with Europe.
Right. Well that makes sense cause we face European clubs so very often every season. ??
Exactly. Lol. I think the dream then was teams would be sending players to Europe for trials by the half-dozen and the best time for both parties would be the European off-season in July. That hasn’t happened.
Better to send players when they are in season and in form anyway. Take the hit and send your player in July 1 while your season is going on because he will be match fit.
As it is, the league finishes in May and they expect players to be in shape for July trials. They are acting as if they don’t know the professionalism of these kids.
I’d guess it’d be best to run your domestic season in a way that would best complement your international calendar and not a dream. But I could be talking total nonsense. My brain still isn’t itself today following that snooze fest last night. I swear I wasn’t even sure what the score from the PK shootout was as it was happening. Had to do the maths after like… I think NE missed two which would mean that…??
Lol. Yeah. And remember it would mean that we are in shape for the CONCACAF Champions League which kicks off in August.
As it is now, our results there have become an embarrassment. Central and Connection will do their best in August. But it will be the same.
Just like teams from Russia can never do well in the UEFA Champions League as their season is built around their harsh winter season and their knock out matches happen during their off-season.