Home / Volley / Local Football / FCB Cup 19: Slow and steady wins race; Police thump Rangers to lift first national title in 25 years

FCB Cup 19: Slow and steady wins race; Police thump Rangers to lift first national title in 25 years

After 25 long, hard years of waiting for a top flight national title, Police FC achieved that feat in emphatic style last night as they thumped the fancied Terminix La Horquetta Rangers (LHR) by a 4-1 margin to snatch the TT$75,000 First Citizens Cup prize.

The last time Police FC lifted a national title way back in 1994, head coach Richard Hood was still rubbing shoulders with the best of them as a defender. Last night, at the spanking Diego Martin Sporting Complex, Hood was pacing the sidelines rather than lunging into tackles as he matched wits against LHR’s Dave Quamina.

Photo: Police FC head coach Richard Hood passes on instructions to his players while La Horquetta Rangers assistant coach Keyon Edwards looks on during the First Citizens Cup final at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex on 6 December 2019.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Before last night’s finale, LHR were unbeaten in this year’s FCB Cup after racking up six straight wins while scoring an impressive 19 goals and conceding just five in the process. Among their scalps in the tough Abercrombie Group were: Defence Force, W Connection and the defending champions Central FC.

Police also fell to the relentless Rangers in the group stages, as the FCB Cup’s eventual ‘Most Valuable Player’, Aikim Andrews, engineered a 1-0 victory when the teams met in group action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Last night, Andrews was again in fine fettle as he gave opposing wing backs Kaydion Gabriel and Clevon McFee a good run for their money down either flank. However, while Andrews won his mini battles on the night, a physical and determined Police squadron won the war.

The good book says that the race is not for the swift but those who endure to the end; and that came full circle for Police in Diego Martin, as a Christian Thomas double and goals by the impressive duo of Kareem Freitas and Jameel Perry helped them stomp all over LHR.

Terminix La Horquetta Rangers Police FC

1

Tyrone Charles 9

4

Christian Thomas 27, 88, Jameel Perry 43, Kareem Freitas 81

At Diego Martin Sporting Complex, Diego Martin
Terminix La Horquetta Rangers Police FC

1

Tyrone Charles 9

4

Christian Thomas 27, 88, Jameel Perry 43, Kareem Freitas 81

At Diego Martin Sporting Complex, Diego Martin

“I don’t have the words right now because I’m really emotional. This is something we have been working on for years,” Hood told Wired868. “When we started this program in 2012 this is what we envisaged for this team. We wanted to take this club back to the top of Trinidad and Tobago football.

“[…] It took a lot longer than we would’ve anticipated for various reasons but we’re elated that we’ve finally gotten there.”

Even in the finale, Police had some speed bumps to navigate before they could roar back to claim the coveted trophy.

In only the ninth minute, LHR attacker Tyrone Charles gave his team the lead when he turned in a scoffed right footed volley at the back stick from a flowing counter attack, after Andrews’ right side cross was side footed into the area by Kadeem Corbin.

Photo: Police FC goalkeeper Adrian Foncette (right) looks back helplessly as La Horquetta Rangers attacker Tyrone Charles (second from left) puts his team ahead during the First Citizens Cup final at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex on 6 December 2019.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Captain and custodian, Adrian Foncette, might have done more to stop Charles’ effort but he appeared flat-footed as the attacker’s shot bounced through a sea of Police blue.

If the first item in last night’s final could go down as a howler, then the next two surely must go in the same category, as LHR goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel made a meal of the first half efforts by Perry and Thomas.

Hood said he saw cracks in LHR’s makeshift backline and Police’s relentless direct approach certainly tried to exploit that. Time and again, Police centre half Kemron Purcell drilled long diagonal balls in search of Freitas and Perry while Gabriel, Thomas and central midfielder Jabari Mitchell tried to profit from the knock downs.

“We looked at Jameel’s ability to hold up the ball and play little flick-ons as well,” said Hood. “We looked at all ways we could break them down. We knew that they were going to be a tough opponent and we had to defend well. They got an early goal and we had to battle back from that setback.”

It was some fightback too.

Photo: La Horquetta Rangers goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel (left) dives in vain at a goalbound effort from Police FC attacker Christian Thomas during the First Citizens Cup final at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex on 6 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

In the 24th minute, Perry brought a brilliant low save from Samuel after meeting a right side cross from Gabriel with a sweetly timed volley.

But three minutes later, the LHR goalie was left with egg on his face as he tried to keep out a Thomas header after a right-side cross from the tireless Gabriel. Thomas’ header was not particularly powerful, yet Samuel’s right palm could not stop the ball from settling into the back of the net.

And two minutes before the end of the first half, Samuel had to pick the ball out from the back of his net yet again, as Perry scrambled home from close range after the LHR defence and goalie made a right mess of a floated Gabriel cross.

Halfway through the 2019 FCB Cup final and it appeared as though Police’s direct pressure burst LHR’s pipe.

“They were playing a 4-4-2 formation and we were playing 4-2-3-1 so we were planning to make that numerical advantage in the middle of the park count,” Hood said. “We looked at their balance at the back and how they matched up against our strikers as well and we formulated our plan to go after them.”

Photo: Terminix La Horquetta Rangers winger Aikim Andrews (left) controls a high ball during First Citizens Cup final action against Police FC at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex on 6 December 2019.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Quamina and LHR looked stunned and the coach tried to alter the course of the game at the interval, as he withdrew Corbin and inserted Kishun Seecharan on the flank.

“We just thought it wasn’t going to plan with Corbin so we just tried to change it up a bit and try to change the variety in the game,” Quamina said.

Seecharan, a deadly dribbler on his day with a cultured left boot, couldn’t quite deliver the goods though.

Rangers did create some openings at the start of the second period. Right back Anslem ‘Worm’ Jackson brought a fine save from Foncette with a meaty volley in the 61st minute, while LHR skipper Jamal Creighton failed to turn in at the back stick after the Police and Soca Warriors goalkeeper spilled the ensuing Seecharan corner.

As the seconds on referee Rodphin Harris’ watch ticked away, LHR became more individualistic in their approach play, which seemed to work in the Lawmen’s favour.

Photo: La Horquetta Rangers coach Dave Quamina (right) barks instructions at his players during the First Citizens Cup final against Police FC at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex on 6 December 2019.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“We saw what Rangers did in their previous games and we anticipated that they would try to get behind us as quickly as possible,” Hood said. “We knew they would try to use their runners and isolate their wingers against our fullbacks as well. We trained to neutralise that.”

Barring the lively Andrews, Police dealt reasonably well with LHR’s attacking threat, as Purcell and Elijah Belgrave were dominant in central defence while the midfield trio of Mitchell, Stephan Campbell and Kenaz Williams constantly harassed their opponents in the middle of the park.

In the 77th minute, Quamina had his last roll of the die when he replaced centre half Caleb Sturge with playmaker Keron ‘Ballpest’ Cummings. Last year, Ballpest had a FCB Cup final to remember as he scored a sublime double en route to lifting the title with the ‘Couva Sharks’. Last night though, it was all about a clinical police operation.

LHR’s formation became a somewhat disjointed 3-4-3 and it’s fair to say that Police had a field day.

“Both teams know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we didn’t stick to our game plan,” said Quamina. “And basically that’s it. Football is on the day and there are no secrets. Football is also about execution. We just weren’t at our best tonight and Police were able to get the better of us.”

Photo: Police FC goalkeeper and captain Adrian Foncette (right) turns cleverly away from La Horquetta Rangers forward Jomoul Francois during the First Citizens Cup final at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex on 6 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

After Charles blasted a left-footed effort wide of the mark from a tight angle in the 78th minute, Police opened the floodgates at the other end.

First, in the 81st minute, Freitas calmly slotted home from close range after substitute Christon Thomas outmuscled defender Jevon Morris—no easy task!—and squared from the byline. And then for the final act in the 88th minute, Thomas (Christian) tapped into an empty net after Freitas unselfishly passed to him with the goal at his mercy.

The Police bench emptied as they celebrated wildly with the tournament’s leading goal scorer, Thomas (Christian). On the opposite end, LHR found the result so unpalatable that their players headed to the dressing room and did not heed stadium announcer Wayne Cunningham’s call return to for their silver medals during the post-game ceremony.

After going without precious silverware for a quarter of a century, Hood and company were finally able to revel in the moment.

“It’s been a long, long drought but I just want to say thanks to the players and staff who came out and did their jobs professionally,” Hood said. “The players never doubted their abilities to come back and bring it home. I think everybody really wanted to achieve this victory today and we went out there and did it.”

Photo: Police FC attacker Christian Thomas has an acrobatic volley towards the La Horquetta Rangers goal during the First Citizens Cup final at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex on 6 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Some would say that Rangers got all the way to the well and did not drink. Others would say that they took a page straight from Guyana Amazon Warriors’ playbook.

(Teams)

Terminix La Horquetta Rangers (4-4-2): 1.Glenroy Samuel (GK); 99.Anslem Jackson, 18.Jevon Morris, 12.Caleb Sturge (15.Keron Cummings 77), 17.Ross Russell Jr; 7.Aikim Andrews, 24.Kishon Hackshaw, 8.Jamal Creighton (captain), 45.Kadeem Corbin (9.Kishun Seecharan 46); 10.Tyrone Charles, 27.Isaiah Lee (11.Jomoul Francois 72).

Unused Substitutes: 5.Leslie Joel Russell, 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 26.Jesus Perez, 28.Johnny Noriega Britto.

Coach: Dave Quamina

Police FC (4-1-4-1): 18.Adrian Foncette (GK) (captain); 27.Kaydion Gabriel, 33.Kemron Purcell, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 29.Clevon McFee; 16.Stephan Campbell (6.J’deem Parris 75); 15.Christian Thomas, 5.Kenaz Williams, 7.Jabari Mitchell (19.Christon Thomas 70), 10.Kareem Freitas; 9.Jameel Perry (32.Keion Wilson 80).

Unused Substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 21.Todd Ryan, 24.Xavier Wheeler, 30.Joshua Leach.

Coach: Richard Hood

Referee: Rodphin Harris

Wired868 Man of the Match: Jameel Perry (Police FC)

Photo: La Horquetta Rangers flanker Aikim Andrews (left) tries to evade Police FC left back Clevon McFee during the First Citizens Cup final at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex on 6 December 2019.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

First Citizens Cup Final

(Friday 6 December)

Terminix La Horquetta Rangers 1 (Tyrone Charles 9), Police FC 4 (Christian Thomas 27, 88, Jameel Perry 43, Kareem Freitas 81) at Diego Martin Sporting Complex;

FCB Cup MVP: Aikim Andrews (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers)

Most Goals (6): Christian Thomas (Police FC)

About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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