San Juan community gets first title after 6 years
Ato Boldon Stadium, COUVA – Point Fortin residents showed up by hundreds more, and noisier than the opposition on Friday night. But it was the community of San Juan that awaited the arrival of the 2014 Toyota Classic crown and a celebration that took six miserable years to come.
Before kick-off, Civic were seeking their first title since joining the TT Pro League last season, while Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh – defeated Toyota Classic finalists in 2009 – last captured silverware in 2008, under the then charge of former England international Terry Fenwick, who led the San Juan club to the Pro League title, the Toyota Classic and the now defunct Big Six.
On Friday night Jabloteh got the perfect start when Andell Noray scored a blast just three minutes into the final. But that lead was cancelled out by a rocket in the 70th minute from Point Fortin Civic’s Andrei Pacheco, leveling the scores 1-1 in the gritty affair.
And with the scores tied at 1-1 at the final blow of referee Neal Brizan’s whistle, it was down to kicks from the penalty spot.
Jamaican goalkeeper Shane Mattis dominated the occasion, producing two excellent saves from the penalty spot, to help Jabloteh defeat Civic 4-2 on penalty kicks to capture the Toyota Classic crown and $50,000 winners’ prize.
Civic’s captain and central defender Andre Ettienne, seemingly a victim of final jitters on the night, was the first to be stopped by Mattis, who produced a low save after Johan Peltier had put Jabloteh ahead on the first kick.
Shaquille Bertrand, Kerry Baptiste and Jamaican midfielder Adrian Reid also found the back of the net for Jabloteh although Civic and Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip got glove to the two latter.
But Mattis, the eventual Toyota Classic final MVP, who was also brilliant from the spot in two matches during the 2014 First Citizens Cup, produced another low save to deny Steven Joseph on Civic’s fourth kick to decide the winner after conceding against Andrei Pacheco and Kevin Rouse.
“Shane Mattis has always been a ‘keeper, once he is fully fit, that will be excellent,” explained Jabloteh head coach Keith Jeffrey. “And I have made him fully fit and he will always be a match winner for us.”
“It’s about time I won something,” said the 34-year-old Mattis following the match.
Mattis, a substitute goalkeeper to Clayton Ince when the now defunct Ma Pau SC won the Toyota Classic in 2011, continued. “I’ve been playing so long in Trinidad and never won anything as a player in a game… only on the bench. [Tonight] I was pretty confident, believing I could pull off a couple saves [on penalty kicks].”
Mattis said that he and his teammates were mentally prepared to do what was required to top Civic for the title.
The Keith Jeffrey coached-Jabloteh grabbed the 1-0 lead while supporters were still turning up at the stadium, after capitalizing on a mistake in defence by Ettienne.
Noray swooped in on a giveaway and from inside the box the lanky Tobago-born forward smashed a left footer into the roof of the net with little chance to goalkeeper Phillip.
Noray was alive for the entire first half and had the bulk of Jabloteh’s chances, one of which he forced a low save out of Phillip in the 27th minute from distance.
In the 38th minute Noray directed a free-kick into the body of Phillip but failed to duplicate his performance in the second period before he was replaced injured by Brendon Figuera in the 81st minute.
Garth Thomas also had a scoring opportunity for Jabloteh before the break but the right-back bundled a Baptiste corner wide of goal at the back post.
And in the first of three minutes of stoppage time after 90 minutes, Baptiste failed to seal the win in regulation time.
The 34-year-old former Golden Boot winner and 2009 TT Pro League Player of the Year was denied by the legs of substitute Kevin Rouse after Fabian Reid played a neat pass across the area.
Two minutes earlier F. Reid tested Phillip from distance but only won a save out of the Civic goalie.
And before that it was Civic that dominated a portion of the game, led by a 59th minute strike from distance by Andre Toussaint, which gave the Point Fortin supporters something to cheer, after Mattis went into full stretch to put it behind for a corner.
But the stadium erupted into excitement, with 20 minutes left, when Pacheco’s rocket from 20 yards out hit the underside of the crossbar before landing into Mattis’ net to level the score 1-1.
“That goal set us back a little bit,” Mattis shared. “But we really motivated to win.”
Civic continued with a neat string of passes five minutes later which ended with midfielder Akeem Redhead duplicating an earlier attempt of his which flew wide of the far post.
“I think we could have won it on regulation time,” said Point Fortin Civic head coach Reynold Carrington, whose side took away the runners-up $20,000 and medals, while forward Jamille Boatswain picked up the Most Goals Award with his three goals in the tournament.
“The momentum was with us and failed to capitalise on the half chances that we had.
“I think the pain won’t really sink in just yet. Tonight it’s going to be a hard night. We owed ourselves a victory… not just our community. We have been working hard but came up empty handed.
“The effort was good but not good enough. It was a good final. I think from the beginning of the competition it was intense and very competitive. I think both teams that [reached the final] came out and let everything on the field and it was just unfortunate that we were the losers.”
Carrington added that it is still important that his side get positive results in two remaining Digicel Pro League matches before the Christmas break.
Jabloteh head coach Keith Jeffrey, meanwhile, is now eyeing a much bigger prize in the 2014-2015 Digicel Pro League championship.
He said, “It’s important that the community got something. I know the San Juan community have been longing for some success and [the Toyota Classic title] has come at the right time. This victory will propel the team forward, making the players believe that they can go all the way. Because the league is a close league, and you must believe to win the league.”
Jabloteh will return to action in the league on Tuesday 16 December against crosstown rivals Caledonia AIA from 6 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Round One Match Day Seven while Defence Force will host Civic from 8 pm.
Simultaneously at the Ato Boldon Stadium, defending champions W Connection will meet Police FC from 6 pm and from 8 pm leaders Central FC will host North East Stars.
Toyota Classic Final
Point Fortin Civic 1 (Andrei Pacheco 70') vs San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Andell Noray 3'), regulation time score
Kicks from the penalty spot
San Juan Jabloteh 4 Point Fortin Civic 2
Johan Peltier (scored) Andre Ettienne (saved)
Shaquille Bertrand (scored) Andrei Pacheco (scored)
Kerry Baptiste (scored) Kevin Rouse (scored)
Adrian Reid (scored) Steven Joseph (saved)
Point Fortin East Secondary 3 vs San Juan North Secondary 1
Point Fortin Civic—1. Marvin Phillip, 4. Weslie John, 5. Andre Ettienne (C), 2. Garyl Doldron, 3. Steven Joseph, 6. Akeem Redhead, 7. Kelvin Modeste, 19. Andrei Pacheco, 18. Trent Lougheed (Yellow Card) (23. Kevin Rouse 55th), 11. Andre Toussaint, 20. Jamille Boatswain (21. Andre Alexis 83rd).
Unused substitutes—24. Miguel Payne (GK), 16. Ancil Wells, 17. Keswin Goolie, 13. Tevin Belfor, 15. Rondell Paul.
San Juan Jabloteh—30. Shane Mattis (Yellow Card), 13. Coneal Thomas, 18. Jevon Morris, 4. Garth Thomas, 10. Kerry Baptiste (C), 6. Dario Holmes, 14. Shaquille Bertrand, 24. Adrian Reid, 15. Duran Dilworth (9. Johan Peltier 66th), 7. Andell Noray (23. Brendon Figuera 81st), 17. Fabian Reid.
Unused substitutes—36. Raheem Belgrave (GK), 11. Bryan Bayliss, 22. Calib Sturge, 19. Dillon Kirton, 25. Troy Moses.
Match Referee—Neal Brizan.