Trinidad and Tobago’s National Under 20 footballers played maybe their best five minutes of attacking football in the same number of matches but striker Lester Peltier and his teammates were left probably wishing they could at least say the word “equalizer” in Spanish as the visiting Venezuelans came away 3-2 winners in the second of two friendlies at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar on Sunday.
They took the lead on 10 minutes when Tamanaco Piedrahita’s free kick bounced off a T&T player in the box and Luilly Garcia was on spot to tap home the loose ball inside the six yard box.
Before that T&T managed to make inroads into the opposition penalty box but squandered at least two decent chances on goal with Carlyle Mitchell being chief suspect.
And in front of a slightly better crowd by a couple hundred than Saturday’s match, the hosts fell further behind when, following a Radanfah Abu Bakr hand ball on the right of the box, Francisco Colina’s free kick was deflected and Anton Irwin blasted the loose ball home for his second goal in the two games.
Finding it hard to penetrate the Venezuelan back line, T&T tried to at least maintain a fair amount of possession. And on 32 minutes, their first item came after a well orchestrated attack initiated by Khaleem Hayland. It was Silas Spann who floated one over from the left to the far post and there was Hayland sliding in to connect past goalkeeper Tito Rojas.
Venezuela held the edge at the interval but things got ugly following that. Two minutes into the break, it appeared as though Marvin James unintentionally made body contact with the Venezuelan after a foul call and referee Richard Piper immediately gave him marching orders, much to the disapproval of the fans. But for the Venezuelans in the stadium particularly the Embassy crew led by Gilberto Jaimes, head of trade and commerce and representative of the Ambassador to T&T Vinicio Romero, they were enjoying at least seeing their countrymen holding the advantage both in terms of players and goals.
In the 55th minute there was another stoppage and this time the altercation involved players of both teams resulting in a two minute stoppage and a couple minutes later, the expulsion of Piedrahita followed.
T&T almost conceded a third goal in the 63rd minute when goalie Adrian Foncette tried to reach a wide pass back and Colina got his shot in before, forcing McKenzie Cadette to clear off the line.
The home team, playing in all white, were not that fortunate in the 67th minute though as after Abu Bakr tried to screen a ball for his advancing ‘keeper to claim on the inside edge of the box, the chasing Anderson Arias got a foot in and played the ball over for Irwin to head into an unprotected goal for a 3-1 advantage.
Three minutes later though, T&T put themselves back into catching distance when a Abu Bakr’s touch on the ball following an incoming free kick led to Rojas loosing his grasp and Matthew Bartholomew was right there to slot home for a 3-2 scoreline.
The closing twenty minutes had more heated moments. On 72 minutes a rash challenge by Roberto Sales on Hayland raised tempers causing even the T&T subs to rush off their bench towards the tussle occurring on the touchline closest to their bench. For their altercation, both Hayland and Sales were shown red cards.
And as Brian Williams introduced Aaron Downing, Peltier and Akiel Harlet at the expense of Elton John, Cadette and Spann in the 75th minute, T&T took another ten minutes or so to turn on the tempo. Bartholomew showed a sneak of his ability, when he controlled and turned fluently as he lobbed one just over bar from the top edge of the box. A minute later he then unselfishly gifted an opportunity to a lurking Peltier but he alone could explained how his shot flew wide of the upright.
Pressed into their own half, Venezuela survived another close shave in the 89th minute when Bartholomew again played into Peltier’s path just on the inside left of the box but his snap shot went wide of the near left post.
The rush of action near the end even saw Juan Guerra collecting his second yellow in the 90th minute but he managed to escape the red as injury time played out.
The T&T team will continue its preparations this week before heading out to Kingston on December 1 for the CFU first leg encounter with Jamaica at the Harbour View mini stadium on December 3.
Trinidad & Tobago: - Adrian Foncette, McKenzie Cadette (Akiel Harlet 75th), Marvin James, Radanfah Abu Bakr (capt), Silas Spann (Atulla Guerra 75th), Khaleem Hyland, Keon Daniel, Matthew Bartholomew, Larry Bacchus, Elton John (Aaron Downing 75th), Carlyle Mitchell.
Coach: Brian Williams.
Venezuela: - Roberto Sales, Tamanaco Piedrahita, Thomas Rincon (capt), Wilkinson Rivas (Francisco Colina 63rd) Oswaldo Rodriguez (Juan Guerra 55th) Tito Rojas, Francisco Colina, Luilly Garcia, Anton Irwin, Jose Velasquez, Richard Lopez..
Coach: Nelson Carrero.
Young Warriors shake off Venezuela loss.
By: Lasana Liburd (Express).
"We will be ready for Jamaica," said Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 coach Brian Williams. "We will be going for a victory in Jamaica. We will not play open but we will try to play our own game."
The junior "Soca Warriors" face Jamaica in Kingston on Sunday in the first of a two-legged clash. The winners advance to the CONCACAF Under-20 finals next year.
But Williams' confident words came on the back of another defeat. On Sunday, the national under-20 squad fell 3-2 to Venezuela at the Larry Gomes Stadium for a second loss in their past five international outings.
The team's only win during that period was a 3-0 triumph against St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is the sobering reality of the young national team, who are yet to match their individual talent with collective play.
At Malabar, Williams' boys showed noticeable improvement in their work ethic and competitive streak since their sub-par returns in October's Caribbean qualifying series. Williams was never afraid to get dirty as a player but, after three red cards in the weekend's two fixtures-the first was a 1-1 draw on Saturday-he warned his troops about the importance of maintaining composure.
"I told them they have to be a little more in control," he told the Express. "It is a learning experience. I was very happy with their physical competitiveness and fitness but, when we are short, it only puts us under pressure."
Williams expects a physical battle in Kingston. If so, he could not find a better sparring partner than Venezuela. The Latin American outfit set the pace on Saturday with a robust game that featured more than half-dozen bookings and ejections for T&T right back Corneal Thomas and a Venezuelan official.
Top Trinidad and Tobago referee Richard Piper was summoned for the second meeting on Sunday and wasted little time in asserting himself.
Venezuelan midfielder Tamanaco Piedrahita was cautioned after just five minutes for pushing, while any sign of aggression from either team merited an instant lecture from the match official.
Venezuela were forced to concentrate more on the ball than their opponents' shins and, unfortunately for T&T, did just that with moments of free-flowing play in the first half. Luilly Garcia put the visitors ahead with a tap in in the ninth minute after T&T custodian Adrian Foncette parried a powerful long-range free kick from Piedrahita.
It was an unkind blow for the hosts who started brighter, with striker Carlyle Mitchell looking particularly dangerous.
Venezuela doubled their advantage in the 18th minute as captain Radanfah Abu-Bakr failed to clear a right side free kick and Anton Irwin converted his second goal in as many games. All the Venezuelan items, up to that point, came from set pieces.
"We will be looking at our positioning when we are defending set pieces," said Williams. Undaunted, the Warriors halved the deficit in the 31st minute when the lunging Khaleem Hyland steered a left side Silas Spann cross into the far corner. Hyland, an industrious utility player, was also on the score sheet on Saturday and looked as comfortable in central midfield as he did in defence. But not everyone fitted in as snugly.
Williams selected Spann and Elton John in wide positions on Sunday, but neither excelled as wingers and striker Marlon Bartholomew lacked the crosses that he craves.
"We tried to get the best ball handlers on the park," Williams explained, after the match. Clearly, there is still work to be done before the under-20s can maximise the talent within their ranks.
Venezuela maintained their one-goal advantage at the interval but, one minute into the second half, the simmering resentment between the sides boiled over.
Trinidad and Tobago left back Marvin James, a stand-out on Saturday, cleared the ball from an onrushing Roberto Sales but ended the play by bringing his boot down on the Venezuelan's back.
Piper ruled that the contact was deliberate and produced a straight red card. The Venezuelans, who collected two of three first half bookings, returned to their niggling ways with some venom.
Trinidad and Tobago, led by six foot two defender Abu-Bakr, fought fire with fire. And it was only a matter of how many players would join James down the tunnel thereafter. Piedrahita was ejected in the 56th minute for spitting at Hyland, who sparked a brawl between both teams after flattening Richard Lopez.
A Venezuelan official was expelled from the bench for dissent in the 68th minute, while Hyland got his own marching orders in the 72nd minute for throwing an elbow at opposing captain Tomas Rincon, who was tugging his jersey at the time.
Sales saw red, too, for his conduct in the scrimmage that followed Hyland's deliberate and unsporting use of the elbow.
Piper might have been praying for the final whistle by then and, in stoppage time, the pressure told on the CONCACAF referee.
After ignoring a stream of insolence from the visitors, Piper flashed a second yellow card at Juan Guerra but failed to notice he had already been booked and did not show the obligatory red card.
His error affected the integrity of the match and he may be fortunate that it was only an international friendly. English referee Graham Poll was sent home after a similar error at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Venezuela increased the lead to 3-1 in the 66th minute after Anderson Arias capitalised on a defensive mix-up while, nine minutes later, Bartholomew made it 3-2 with a predatory finish after substitute goalie Jose Velasquez spilled a free kick. Trinidad and Tobago substitute Lester Peltier fluffed two excellent opportunities to at least pull the hosts level in the second half as the teams plugged on with nine players each.
It meant another defeat for Williams, although the coach was "satisfied" with the improvement in his team. He confessed that the team's lack of cohesiveness and the average ball movement in attack remain major concerns. Hopefully, Jamaica will be unable to capitalise on either flaw.