W Connection lifted their fourth Toyota Classic title on Sunday night in style, with a 4-0 triumph over 10-man Defence Force at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
“This season is already much better than last season when we only won the (Digicel) Charity Shield,” said W Connection technical director/head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier after Sunday’s victory.
Charles-Fevrier, the Toyota Classic 2015 Coach of the Tournament, added, “We set out our objectives to win more silverware this season and it’s good that we have been able to win the first two trophies. We are quite pleased with that.
“I thought we deserved to win. We definitely showed that we were the better team on the night. Defence Force dug deep but tonight they were definitely outclassed by us.
“They (Defence Force) are one of the quality teams in the league and can always bounce back, but tonight was definitely our night.”
Sunday’s Toyota Classic crowning comes one week after W Connection boss, David John-Williams, was elected as president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and subsequently handed over his duties as president and chief executive officer of the Couva-based club to his daughter Renee John-Williams.
Charles-Fevrier said he communicated to his players that with David John-Williams now assuming his responsibility as TTFA president, it meant every player and staff member now have a greater commitment to W Connection.
“I guess tonight we demonstrated that,” Charles-Fevrier said. “I want everyone at W Connection to understand it’s not only for today, but for the rest of the season and beyond because it’s a four-year term (David John-Williams will be serving as TTFA president). Also we really wanted to win this (Toyota Classic) trophy because it’s our first time playing with him as president (of the TTFA). That was an added incentive.”
Charles-Fevrier’s side grabbed the lead on the 21st minute through attacker Jomal Williams against Defence Force.
Williams, unmarked inside the left of the box, controlled a diagonal cross from Alvin Jones, which skipped past the intended target of midfielder Andre Toussaint, and curled his strike beyond goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke, who had made a brilliant one-handed save ten minutes earlier to keep out a Jones’ free-kick blast.
Conversely, Connection were lucky not to concede a minute before opening the scoring.
Devorn Jorsling, one of three Defence Force attackers unmarked in the Connection area following an enterprising play, failed to direct his right-footed volley on target off a right side cross from Curtis Gonzales.
Jorsling would later add to his side’s demise when he forced the hand of referee Crystal Sobers into issuing him a red card—reducing Defence Force to 10 men with just a minute left in the first period.
Sobers had issued Jorsling a yellow card, ruling a foul against Defence Force after halting an attacking move. A furious Jorsling, unable to restrain his feelings, then saw red for dissent, by which time Connection were already leading 2-0.
“The sending off was a soft sending off but, all in all, I thought the better team on the night won the game,” conceded Defence Force head coach Marvin Gordon.
Gordon said his players’ attitude in the lead up to Sunday’s final was brilliant and from all indications he felt his team was prepared to win the final.
“But today (Sunday) I thought defensively we were really poor,” admitted Gordon. “We weren’t marking and tracking enough. Credit to W Connection, they play one way, which is play the ball and move… a lot of give and go, and we didn’t defend properly.”
Forward Shahdon Winchester had scored Connection’s second item on the night in the 39th minute with a simple tap-in past a hapless Clarke, whose defence was left beaten by a move involving Andre Toussaint and eventual goal-assist, Briel Thomas.
Goalkeeper Julani Archibald was also brilliant for Connection in keeping a clean sheet. The St. Kitts/Nevis international pushed wide a Jelani Felix attempt in the 32nd minute before the resulting corner was headed just over by Defence Force defender Rodell Elcock.
Archibald made another save in the 41st minute to deny Defence Force when he pushed overbar a header by Jerwyn Balthazar.
With two-goal deficit and down to 10 men, Defence Force coach Marvin Gordon called on the services of former Connection midfielder Hashim Arcia and forward Richard Roy, replacing fullback Aklie Edwards and winger Kerry Joseph, respectively, on the 51st minute.
Arcia, making his debut for Defence Force, last played competitively nearly seven months ago while representing Connection. The talented midfielder shook off some rust but even with his quality in the attacking third, Defence Force failed to rebound.
Connection, however, didn’t stop scoring and had the Defence Force backline to thank for hanging out Clarke to dry on a number of occasions.
Neil Benjamin made it 3-0 in the 66th minute with an easy finish after a defensive blunder by Curtis Gonzales allowed Connection substitute Dwight Quintero to attack the box before slipping a feed to Benjamin on the right.
Moments earlier Quintero and Jomal Williams had attempts just wide of the target in the 61st and 63rd minutes respectively.
Clarke’s goal was rocked in the 73rd minute when a right-footed attempt by Aikim Andrews cannoned off the upright and Benjamin troubled the side netting four minutes later.
The Defence Force goalie made saves in the 80th minute and third and final minute of stoppage-time to deny Jomal Williams and Quintero, but his efforts were separated by Connection’s fourth goal.
Connection’s teenaged winger Aikim Andrews made it 4-0 in the 88th minute with a cool finish off a squared Jomal Williams feed to equal the Toyota Classic’s highest scoring final wins of now defunct clubs United Petrotrin (2006 final versus St. Ann's Rangers) and Joe Public (2009 final versus San Juan Jabloteh).
However Connection, now champions of 2005, 2011, 2013 and 2015, improved their position with the most Toyota Classic titles (4), ahead of Jabloteh (2) and defunct Joe Public (2).
Earlier on Sunday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, St. Mary’s College (CIC) were hailed as the Toyota Classic Challenge Trophy 2015 champions after defeating Fatima College 4-0.
Daniel Conocchiari opened the scoring in the 7th minute for St. Mary’s before goals by teammates Chinua Bernard (19th minute), Tyrese Spicer (42nd minute) and Ethan Shim (44th minute) completed the scoring before the break.
W Connection 4 (Jomal Williams 21', Shahdon Winchester 39', Neil Benjamin 66', Aikim Andrews 88') vs Defence Force 0
2015 Toyota Classic Challenge Trophy
St. Mary's College 4 (Daniel Conocchiari 7’, Chinua Bernard 19’, Tyrese Spicer 42’, Ethan Shim 44’) vs Fatima College 0
W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald; 2.Kurt Frederick, 5.Triston Hodge, 3.Gerard Williams, 8.Briel Thomas, 9.Shahdon Winchester (19.Dwight Quintero 57th), 10.Jomal Williams, 11.Neil Benjamin Jr. (12.Dimitri Apai 80th), 14.Andre Toussaint (17.Aikim Andrews 69th), 16.Alvin Jones (Capt.), 21.Shannon Gomez
Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 4.Maurice Ford, 13.Kion Joseph, 23.Kevon Goddard
Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier
Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke; 2.Glynn Franklyn, 6.Rodell Elcock, 8.Curtis Gonzales (3.Jamali Garcia 70th), 17.Ross Russell Jr., 7.Jelani Felix, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.), 52.Stephan Campbell, 9.Devorn Jorsling, 21.Aklie Edwards (10.Hashim Arcia 51st), 23.Kerry Joseph (26.Richard Roy 51st)
Unused substitutes: 80.Aaron Enill (GK), 4.Dave Long, 18.Sean Narcis, 12.Jemel Sebro
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Match Referee: Crystal Sobers