Dennis Lawrence’s benchmark for quality is surely pretty high, And on Saturday night in St George’s he would have been pleased with his offerings coming off the bench as Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men pulled themselves up to come away with a 2-2 draw with Grenada at the Kirani James National Stadium.
As T&T fell behind late in the first half, Lawrence inserted trio Nathan Lewis (64th), Alvin Jones (80th) and Akeem Roach (77th) and the changes proved to be on point as they interjected new life into the T&T attack in the second half as the visitors surged ahead before conceding a late equaliser.
Despite having better possessional play in the first half, T&T found themselves trailing in the 41st minute when Denron Frederick beat goalkeeper Marvin Phillip to leave the hosts 1-0 ahead at half time before an enthusiastic home crowd.
T&T, preparing for the June 8th and June 13th World Cup qualifiers against United States and Costa Rica, continued to enjoy good spells of possession, creating the odd look on goal, but Grenada kept Lawrence’s men at bay until the lively Lewis struck the equaliser in the 66th minute.
Lawrence had Mexican-based midfielder Yohance Marshall in his defensive line up for the first time since taking over as head coach with Honduras-based forward Jerrel Britto making his senior international debut, starting in attack alongside Shahdon Winchester. Carlos Edwards skippered the team on the evening with the starters also including Hashim Arcia, Leston Paul, Triston Hodge, Curtis Gonzales, Jared London, midfielder Jomal Williams and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip who was brought into action on a couple of occasions to deny the Grenadians.
Having to force themselves back into the game, Lewis’ goal, which resulted from some good support play by Williams, lifted T&T and the visitors would go on to press and leave the home side on the backfoot for the next 15 minutes or so eventually being rewarded with the go ahead goal from substitute Roach in the 80th minute on an assist by Alvin Jones.
Lawrence had introduced forward Jamille Boatswain at the start of the second half but still T&T could not pull away from their opponents. And the game swung again with Grenada grabbing an 89th minute equaliser through substitute Saydrel Lewis following a defensive lapse by T&T.
After the match, Lawrence explained that he was dissatisfied with T&T’s first half showing but was left with a better impression with their display after the interval.
“In the first half Grenada were very well organised in their defensive shape and we moved the ball far too slow,also giving the ball away in crucial areas of the pitch where Grenada should have capitalised,” Lawrence told TTFA Media.
“In the second half we tried to move the ball quicker and more positive where we were creating problems in wide areas and managed to get total control, keeping Grenada playing on the counter attack which we dealt with for most of the second half.
“But once we took the lead, we did not manage the game after and we made an error yet again allowing Grenada to score the equaliser.
“But all in all it was a very good exercise as the main focus is to get enough competitive football before the qualifier against the US on June 8th. There is not much competitive football for most of the boys until the League starts on May 26th and we have to close the gap before we head into the two qualifiers which would require having to get as much football for them before that period,” Lawrence ended.
The T&T team is scheduled to return home on Sunday morning. Lawrence will resume preparations later this month with a provisional squad in Colorado ahead of the qualifier against the US at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on June 8th.
Grenada 2 (Denron Frederick 40, Saydrel Lewis 89) v Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Nathan Lewis 66, Akeem Roach 80), Kirani James Stadium, St George’s.
T&T - 1.Marvin Phillip, 3.Triston Hodge (16.Alvin Jones 80th), 8.Leston Paul, 11.Jerrel Britto (15.Nathan Lewis 64th), 9.Shahdon Winchester (19.Jamille Boatswain 46th), 2.Carlos Edwards (capt), 5.Curtis Gonzales, 10.Hashim Arcia (20.Keron Cummings 70th), 6.Jared London, 4.Yohance Marshall, 7.Jomal Williams (Yellow 62) (18.Akeem Roach 77th).
Subs that did not play - 12. Seon Power 13. Hughtun Hector , 21. Jan Michael Williams, 22. Glenroy Samuel.
Head Coach – Dennis Lawrence.
Grenada - Jason Belfon (Shemel Louison 64th); Raymond Alleyne, Irvine Smith, Nicko Williams, Jalon Young, Chad Mark (Ronell Gilbert 77th), Reigh Alexander, Denron Daniel (Saydrel Lewis 84th), Jake Rennie, Rickson Phillip (David Moses 84th), Jamal Charles (Darren Modoo 70th).
Head Coach – Ashley Folkes.
Referee – Moeth Gaynes (St Vincent/Grenadines
Assistant 1 – Denroy Barker (St Vincent/Grenadines
Assistant 2 – Kuan Budd (Grenada)