Warriors disappoint again; Shahdon strikes from off the bench in drab draw with Guyana

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team ended their 2017 schedule tonight in much the same manner as they began it: uncertainly and unconvincingly.

For the second time in four days, despite playing on home turf against unfancied regional opposition, the Soca Warriors had to come from behind to secure a draw. On Saturday, the Warriors salvaged a 2-2 draw with Grenada in stoppage time and, tonight, it was the turn of Guyana, who managed a 1-1 tie with the host nation at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Nathaniel Garcia (centre) is deep in thought as Guyana players celebrate behind him during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 14 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Almost 11 months ago, then head coach Tom Saintfiet led Trinidad and Tobago out at this same venue and got pretty much the same results. The record shows defeats to Suriname and Haiti but both games were also level at full-time with the hosts eventually succumbing in extra-time.

Unlike Lawrence, Saintfiet did not have his full team available—it was not a FIFA international match day—and was playing against stiffer opposition. Yet, immediately after the competition, the Belgian jumped before he could be pushed.

In contrast, Lawrence has not been shy to point out that he is under no pressure to hold on to his job. But should the team’s performances over his 10 months at the helm really afford him such comfort?

The stats read three wins against Barbados, Panama and the United States, three draws against Grenada (twice) and Guyana, and eight defeats to Mexico (twice), Panama, Honduras, USA, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Jamaica.

But it was not so much what is evident in black and white. Tonight, the Warriors—as was the case under Saintfiet—appeared to lack conviction and did not look altogether at ease with their game plan.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (centre) tries to escape the attentions of Guyana midfielder Brandon Beresford (left) while Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence looks on during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 14 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

To be fair, Neveal Hackshaw, Nathaniel Garcia, Josiah Trimmingham and Neil Benjamin Jr all made their first starts under Lawrence and it was inevitable that team cohesion would be affected. But the football itself was so basic—not just in what was executed but what was attempted in the first place—that it almost appeared as if the team was regressing.

The Warriors tried to move the ball quickly around the back four in the hope that the opposing full-back had failed to stay close to either of the Trinidad and Tobago wingers. And, if that did not work, either of stand-in captain Sheldon Bateau, Hackshaw, Nathaniel or Trimmingham took the ball from central defence and tried to whack 50-metre balls to either flank or into the centre-forward.

It created enough chances to win the game with Guyana clearly susceptible to pace. But it seemed miles away from the passing triangles that Lawrence’s team seemed to seek out within the first few months of his tenure.

Has the rookie coach lost faith in his team’s ability to pass the ball beyond even such modest opposition? Or was he more risk averse after a spell littered with defeats?

Or were these two uninspiring friendly international merely hiccups along a path that will eventually lead to success?

In the stands, the Warriors supporters showed what they thought by simply not turning up.

Photo: Guyana forward Sheldon Holder (left) heads past Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip (right) and defender Sheldon Bateau for the opening goal during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 14 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

There were barely 3,000 fans to watch Trinidad and Tobago face Grenada. Tonight, that attendance figure was cut in half.

Sad to say, the fans who stayed away did not miss much.

After an enterprising start in which Levi Garcia, used in the “number 10″ role vacated by Kevin Molino, looked to be on a different planet from the other 21 players on the field—meant in the nicest possible way in this case—Trinidad and Tobago again went behind early.

Guyana forward Sheldon Holder, who plays for Morvant Caledonia United in the local Pro League, played the ball wide for Kadel Daniel and then beat Bateau to the cross to head past Warriors custodian Marvin Phillip.

In the 30th minute, Nathaniel had a strike from distance ricochet off the outside of an upright but it was not until the second half that Trinidad and Tobago really asked questions of the “Golden Jaguars.”

Benjamin should have equalised in the 46th minute but he failed to hit the target after a cross from Levi—who had returned to the flank with the introduction of Shahdon Winchester at half-time.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Levi Garcia (right) leaves Guyana captain Samuel Cox for dead during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 14 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Winchester did pull the hosts level in the 60th minute with a good left-footed finish from the edge of the area, after a pass from Benjamin, his former W Connection teammate. It was his second goal under Lawrence and his fifth in 2017, which made him the highest scorer for Trinidad and Tobago in this calendar year.

And the Warriors won enough space down either flank from the rampaging Levi and Lewis to put the match to bed. But they didn’t. And Lawrence would thank his stars that Marvin Phillip pulled off a superb late reflex save to keep out Guyana attacker Emery Welshman and preserve the draw.

On the weekend, there were angry voices from the stands as the Warriors failed to open up a dogged, compact but limited Grenada team. Guyana were slower, offered less in attack and were generally there for the taking. But there was a feeling of resignation from the stands as the minutes ticked away.

Belief is ebbing away from Trinidad and Tobago supporters; maybe within the squad as well. it is in short supply.

The euphoria of the United States win has faded fast. If Lawrence and the TTFA continue to see eye-to-eye, they will have their work cut out for them in 2018 if this team is to take its place among the best nations in the Confederation at the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.


Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 17.Alvin Jones, 4.Sheldon Bateau (captain), 6.Josiah Trimmingham, 2.Aubrey David; 23.Nathaniel Garcia, 8.Neveal Hackshaw; 7.Nathan Lewis, 16.Levi Garcia, 11.Neil Benjamin Jr (14.Hashim Arcia 81); 20.Jamille Boatswain (10.Shahdon Winchester 46).

Unused substitutes: 21.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 9.Akeem Roach, 12.Kathon St Hillaire, 13.Curtis Gonzales, 18.Triston Hodge, 19.Kevan George, 26.Jared London.

Coach: Dennis Lawrence

Guyana (4-2-3-1): 22.Andrew Durant (GK); 20.Terence Vancooten, 6.Jake Newton, 19.Jelani Smith, 3.Christopher Bourne; 8.Samuel Cox (captain), 14.Warren Creavalle (21.Anthony Benfield 79); 10.Emery Welshman (7.Dwain Jacobs 87), 17.Brandon Beresford (15.Shaquille Agard 89), 12.Kadell Daniel; 9.Sheldon Holder (13.Devonte Small 66).

Unused substitutes: 1.Akil Clarke (GK), 11.Gregory Richardson, 16.Kelsey Benjamin, 25.Daniel Jodah.

Coach: Wayne Dover

Referee: Moeth Gaymes (St Vincent and the Grenadines)

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Jamille Boatswain (right) chases the ball during international friendly action against Grenada at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

International friendly

(Tuesday 14 November)

Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Shahdon Winchester 60), Guyana 1 (Sheldon Holder 19) at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

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  1. WATCH: Highlights of Trinidad and Tobago’s 1-1 draw with Guyana

  2. shadon replaces molino but comes off the bench
    for a guy who’s doing good in the mexican league he
    deserve a starting place

  3. Other Caribbean Islands improving their football, Trinidad and Tobago still building a team since 2006

  4. Young team Transitions. Give them time

  5. First home game i didnt attend in more than a year and i am disappointed to hear that the trend continues unabated….very disappointed!

  6. On another note…what does Shahdon Winchester have to do to be given an extended run as first choice striker based on his goals ratio under Hart to now? Especially when he starts

  7. Yuh can’t even look at the SSFL and see potential stars. We’re going to be shitty for a long, long time.

  8. Does anyone know why this game (and also vs Grenada) appears to have not been recognized by FIFA as an official game? Lasana Liburd

  9. No matter if Mr. Bound not to score play or doesn’t play eh, our Soca Worries still cannot beat up the Caribbean teams eh. Them really good yes.

  10. You’ll really taught we could have won thank God we got a draw

  11. We have to take the blinders off and realize that as muct as we want to have national pride this team is going nowhere.
    We can’t beat regional teams with this coaching staff.
    There is a saying I tell my athletes.. “Champions are born everyday they just have to be coached properly”
    This team is lacking motivation and committment.. .those are coaches faults.
    At this level you are not coaching skills and technique you are coaching confidence… commitment and focus.
    As a head coach Lawrence should be going to bat to get the players money from past matches.
    That is the responsibility of the coach. Then you will get respect and committment from your players.
    We have the talent… but lack committed coaches. Coaches who will go to bat for the players and in return the players will reward the coach.
    How can you expect national players to be playing at this level and not receiving remuneration for their efforts.
    Coach Lawrence has to say like Beenie did… “this is what I want for my players or find another coach”
    Coaches do that.
    It seems that he is content on living on an all expense paid trip… and will take it as it comes.

  12. Stop looking at the rest of Caricom countries as a walk over.

  13. I confused. They say “rebuilding”. You eh pick Marvin at all initally, why ?
    Ranjitsingh couldn’t come so call up Marvin. Start Foncette once, then start Marvin, why ? How ?

    Well just don’t select Glenroy at all, steupse

  14. We looked better tonight than the Grenada game.

    2nd half vs Guyana was the best of the last 4 halves.

    The 4-4-2 seems to be working. Something to look at in future

    No one really stands out as of now. I think Josiah Trimmingham’s performance must be noted. Cool and composed throughout.

  15. Lasana Liburd, is it a young team trying to gel as a unit?

    • Young is relative. The only teenager in our team today was also our only player who is playing top level football and arguably our best player.
      There were about four players who have less than 10 senior international caps. But then all four have played fairly extensive international football for youth teams or as an adult at Concacaf Club level.
      Then Guyana has about three full time pros and the rest are semi pros or amateurs.
      So one could probably look at that and make a case either way. Personally I’m disappointed and unsure as to where this team is heading.

    • i thought after the end of the World Cup campaign they would have selected only young (25 and under) and a coach who they have full confidence in to stay together through 2022. But I’m only a sport fan.

    • Eric, the new players I referenced are under 25. But doesn’t matter if they are all 18 and not playing well. Education is a process.
      There are no short cuts. Yesterday could only be a lesson in what not to do.

  16. Lawrence and DJW…..alyuh just blight

  17. But why people complaining so? We are now UNBEATEN at home in our last 3 matches…Ato Boldon Stadium…the Fortress!!! Can’t wait for the next game…perhaps Turks & Caicos??? SMH… seriously tho some positives from tonight would be Hacksaw put in a decent shift in Def Mid and Trimmingham has potential to be a Marvin Andrews-like defender in time if he apples himself…and Hachim Arcia was FINALLY used as an attacking mid and looked decent for his small cameo.

  18. Yuh know what I will go with the idea that dem fellas just don’t feel like playing

  19. I left Ato Boldon a disappointed and disgusted fan. After a temporary high a month ago we scraped two dull draws against teams who we are significantly higher than in the rankings. It seemed like the positions were reverse. Tonight Guyana showed grit and determination and played a hungrier more committed brand of football. We played lacklustre and in patches expecting the Guyanese to concede to us. It was unfortunate to see our first half display, Levi Garcia and Hackshaw were woeful with their passes. The game picked up for us in spurts when Winchester came on. We need to pull up a lot otherwise Lawrence and co.may have to find the exit door closer than we think #displeasedwarriorsfan #stillhopefulandloyal

  20. Well again our football is not going no way soon just watching the game in stadium our players lack ideas running of the ball was none existence out defence in a mess we holding on to the ball in our ownhalf nobody to hold the ball in the midfield well look like school boys but say what work in progress good luck guys next year let’s hope for better performances and results season grettings to all

  21. I see a pattern here.
    First friendly: 2/2….crowd in attendance : 3,000ish
    Second friendly : 1/1…..crowd in attendance 1,500 ish.
    Third friendly?? Lol!

  22. I went through this kinda heart break with gyul, west Indies and now soca warriors like I love heart ache bai

  23. wait…what yuh doing? copy and paste from the last story?? weyyyyyyz!
    wah kindah ting is this bai??? steups

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