North East Stars overcame two setbacks to claim the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield, after Sean Fraser netted a 77th minute winner for a 1-0 result over San Juan Jabloteh in Friday night’s final at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.
The Jamaican forward finished off a nice move to seal the title for North East, their first major crown since the 2004 Pro League, and a $29,000 jackpot, while Jabloteh collected $12,000.
With the oldest team (on average and collectively) in the League, North East, on Friday, proved that experience counts when it matters most with a determined display against the more youthful, but inconsistent Jabloteh.
The win was even more special for North East as they lost goalkeeper Michael Woods to a long-term leg injury (a damaged shin which required hospitalisation) and defensive midfielder Jeromie Williams to a pair of yellow cards, in either half of the game.
Both teams made a change apiece from their semi-final line-ups, with Glenton Wolfe replacing the suspended North East captain Charles Pollard while Robert Primus returned to the centre of the Jabloteh defence at the expense of another suspended full-back, Joel Russell.
The match started at a slow tempo, but Jabloteh, with a well-worked freekick, could have broken the deadlock in the seventh minute, but Jamal Jack headed Ronaldo Viana’s cross overbar.
From another set-play, eight minutes afterwards, Atuallah Guerra collected Jason Marcano’s corner, wrong-footed North East’s left-back Kevaughn Connell and forced a good save, at the near post, by Woods.
North East got into the game and, in the midst of a good period of possession, Fraser and Errol McFarlane exchanged passes, in the heart of the Jabloteh defence, before Fraser’s right-footer went inches wide of Cleon John’s left post.
However, in the 33rd, Woods’ game came to a halt as he was stretchered off after colliding with Marcano, as both tracked a cross from the left by Johan Peltier – the goalie was later taken to hospital for a damaged shin.
And replacement goalkeeper Winslow McDonald was called into action shortly before the half-time interval, as he denied a stinging shot, from the left, by Peltier.
Williams’ was sent off by referee Neal Brizan in the 53rd for his second infringement, diving in the penalty box; he was given his first booking in the 22nd for arguing a call with the ref, following a tough challenge on Viana.
Jabloteh could have taken advantage of their numerical supremacy in the 70th, but substitute Jerrel Britto took too long to shoot and defender Kimarley McDonald averted any danger.
And McDonald’s fellow Jamaican Fraser got the game winner shortly afterwards, collecting a headed back-pass from McFarlane, getting behind his marker Sheldon Bateau and hitting home a left-footer, despite a valiant attempted save from John.
North East retreated into a defensive system, with only McFarlane in the Jabloteh half, but the San Juan squad missed three late chances, all including substitute Cyrano Glen.
In the 83rd, Glen’s cross from the right was badly cleared by the defence but Britto skied a right-footed effort; in the 89th, Glen left Wolfe for dead but he volleyed wide from close range and, the worse of them all, after Britto got a neat pass on the left by Noel Williams, the ball was sent across the face of goal but Glen sent his right-footer overbar, with the goal at his mercy.
Jabloteh’s coach Terry Fenwick was so enraged by that miss that he kicked a pair of water-bottles, as North East held their composure in the dying seconds.
After the game, North East’s coach Shurland David remarked: “I’m very happy for the guys. I’m very happy for the supporters and the sponsors. The feeling is tremendous.”
The 36-year-old former national defender noted that his squad always felt that they had what it took to prevail on the night, despite Jeromie Williams’ red card.
“We were under a little pressure but we never lost our shape, we never lost our confidence,” he said. “We always believed that we would win it.”
Fraser was later named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while Devon Jorsling copped the Golden Boot (top goal-scorer) with four goals – all against Tobago United in the quarter-final stage.
Fraser and Jorsling each earned $1,500 for their success.
San Juan Jabloteh: - Cleon John; Jamal Jack, Robert Primus, Noel Williams, Sheldon Bateau; Marvin Oliver (capt) (Elijah Manners 56th), Ronaldo Viana, Johan Peltier (Cyrano Glen 68th), Jason Marcano, Ataullah Guerra; Hector Sam (Jerrel Britto 63rd).
North East Stars: - Michael Woods (Winslow McDonald 39th); Kimarley McDonald, Glenton Wolfe, Kevaughn Connell, Marc Leslie; Jeromie Williams, Leslie Fitzpatrick (Arnold Dwarika 74th), Gary Glasgow, Akiel Guevara; Errol McFarlane (capt), Sean Fraser (Carey Harris 86th).
Sancho: LSGS title probably the best in the club’s history.
DIRECTV North East Stars CEO Brent Sancho describes the club’s 2010 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield title as a tremendous victory for the club.
Following Stars 1-0 win over San Juan Jabloteh on Friday night at the Marvin Lee Stadium to lift the trophy courtesy a 76th minute strike by Jamaican forward Sean Fraser, Sancho told www.ttproleague.com, “This is a tremendous victory for the club, probably the biggest in the club’s history.”
The 2006 Trinidad and Tobago World Cup defender explained, “We have won the FA Trophy and the League title before, but taking into consideration that North East Stars missing last season to now winning this title. It’s tremendous!”
Sancho who took on the administrative role this season further added, “To get this victory is a huge plus for our staff, our players, the people of Sangre Grande and our sponsors.
“Everybody understand their roles,” continued a delighted Sancho. “The leadership qualities are present all around this club and we saw that even with a player down and our first choice goalkeeper injured out. These are some of the strong points that we poses to enjoy victories over the San Juan Jabloteh and W Connection.”
Assistant coach Shurland David was appointed interim head coach prior to the start of the tournament and guided the team from the playoffs past FC SouthEnd (3-0), Joe Public (2-0) in the quarterfinals, W Connection (2-1) in the semifinals before Friday’s 1-0 win in the Final against San Juan Jabloteh.
“It’s hard to explain the feelings,” said a jubilant David following Friday’s victory. “I’m very happy for the players, supporters and our sponsors. It’s just a tremendous feeling. Yes, we were under pressure (against Jabloteh) but we believed that we could have won this title and we went out and got it.”
“It was a big ask of Shurland (David),” elaborated Sancho. “He took over at a point where we were coming into the knockout tournament. But he showed a lot of maturity to bringing us from where we were, to winning the competition.
He has brought his style to the team but most importantly, a unity in the team. And a belief that even when we were down to ten men, that maturity was present.”
Stars celebrated the title as well as $29,000 in first prize payout, Sean Fraser picked up the tournament MVP award while Defence Force’s forward Devon Jorsling picked up the Top Goal-scorer with four goals. Jabloteh took the runners-up medals and $11,500.