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Trinidad and Tobago’s under 16 footballers, for the first time in the ongoing CFU Under-16 Youth Cup, met a team with an organized and disciplined approach and had to work their legs off to earn a late 1-1 draw as the final stage of the tournament got going at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium on Monday.
Following the late change in the format of the tournament, designed to suit the Caribbean teams vying for further qualification in the FIFA Under 17 World Championship, both Barbados and T&T went into the game with an equal chance of progress and despite being minnows compared to the hosts, the “Bajans” never backed down.
And it took a strike from influential mdfielder Leston Paul in the 85th minute to ensure a share of the points for the young “Soca Warriors”. That goal came from a play into the area started by Sean De Silva and Daniel Joseph played on to Paul who didn’t hesitate before clinically hit past goalkeeper Dario Weir to send the 3,000 odd fans into a late frenzy.
Before that, T&T allowed their opponents to settle as they failed to stamp the early authority on a team that had previous 4-1 and 3-1 wins over Netherlands Antilles and St Vincent/Grenadines and drew 1-1 with Suriname which had been battered 7-1 by Haiti in the first of the two games at the Manny on Monday.
With little goalmouth action in the early stages, the home team and its fans were stunned when little “Bajan” midfielder Edwards Moss sent a ripper past goalie Jesse Fullerton from 25 metres out for a 1-0 lead to Barbados on 20 minutes.
That seemed to have waken up the homesters as Stephen Knox got busy and rattled one off the cross bar a minute later. And five minutes later Joseph’s control failed him inside the penalty box, denying him a one on one with the goalie. The “Bajans” had another scare at the back when defender Mario Marshall lost his ‘keeper’s position and almost saw a low flick on header go into the net, forcing Weir to scamper back and stop the ball from crossing the line.
The first half didn’t show any signs of advantage for either team and it got worse for the home fans as Barbados’ resistance carried them through leaving T&T to rue several miss chances, particular in the closing quarter. On 52 minutes it was Knox at it again, taking the ball forward and forcing Weir to advance and block and then Paul’s well floated in free kick from the right saw Robert Primus completely missing the header. The trio of Knox, Joseph and Paul were by then beginning to enjoy more of the ball.
Barbados suffered a blow in the 74th minute when they lost Moss, undoubtedly their best player on the pitch, as he was on the end of an unnecessary vicious tackle from Primus on the right edge of the box. He was subsequently taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg and replaced by Nicholas Worme.
Coach Anton Corneal introduced playmaker De Silva as T&T pressed home for the equalizer. With eight minutes remaining Paul’s snap shot brought the best out of Weir and two minutes later De Silva’s left footer flew inches over. But luck wouldn’t lock T&T out all evening as in the 85th minute, the vital equalizer came and with it followed further three chances to snatch a later winner. The “Bajans” withstood though.
De Silva again was the instigator in the 86th, but Joseph couldn’t keep his effort down and a minute later the same player sent a left footed attempt wide of the mark. A minute from time and guess who was missing the target again. Joseph’s volley went wide leaving the “Bajans” breathing a sigh of relief and the home fans screaming in anguish. Haiti though would have been continuing their dance from the opening reception at President’s House. T&T next face Suriname from 5pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Wednesday while Barbados will maybe try to hold off the Haitians from 3pm.
Earlier on at the many, Haiti and Suriname looked a good match up before the Haitians showed their superiority. They didn’t even have time to warm up as traffic forced their late arrival to the venue and pushed back the kick off by 30 minutes. But that was never a bother to them as they opened the coring in the 4th minute through Desrivierres Peterson and by half time they were already up 5-1. They got further strikes from St Victor Ulterguens (23rd), Joseph Peterson (27th), Normil Valdo (44th) and Jules Sandy (45th).
Suriname had a lone strike in the 33rd minute by skipper Miguel Cronie to make the scores 3-1 at that stage and still appeared to be in the game. But Haiti were having none of that as their assault was led by captain Joseph Patterson, undoubtedly a cut above the rest in that matchup. In the second half, Haiti finished off their opponents with Saint Louis Wiselet netting a double in the 48th and 63rd minutes. And if they were serious at that stage, the scoreline could well have run into double figures.

Line ups.

T&T: -
Jesse Fullerton (capt), Ryan Oneil, Sheldon Bateau, Akeem Adams (Marcus Joseph 62nd) Leston Paul, Brenton Balbosa (Sean De Silva 72nd), Robert Primus, Chike Sullivan, Chad DeFreitas (Daneil Cyrus 46th), Stephen Knox, Daniel Joseph.

Barbados: - Dario Weir, Kemal Thompson, Renaldo Waithe (Shawn Forde 65th), Renaldo Seale, Edward Moss (Nicholas Worme 74th), Andre Williams, Steven Griffith, David Castagne, Damien Trotman, Zidkigah Samuel, Mario Marshall.