Morvant Caledonia United hoisted their first trophy since successfully defending the FA Trophy in 2013, and first under the name change from Caledonia AIA, by capturing the 2016 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield (LSGS) with a 4-1 penalty shootout win over W Connection after a scintillating 2-2 regulation time result in the final on Sunday night.
Guyana international Sheldon Holder, who finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 3 goals, equalised twice for Caledonia, with his second a scorcher after his side were reduced to 10 men, to send the game into the shootout with national teammate Pernell Schultz converting the clinching spot kick at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Trinidad and Tobago national team goalkeeper and eventual final Most Valuable Player, Marvin Phillip, derailed his former employers, W Connection, early in the shootout when he denied Alvin Jones on the first kick after Caledonia had taken the lead through veteran player and captain Kareem Joseph.
Akim Armstrong, Holder and Schultz were all clinical for the 2012 LSGS champions, Caledonia, against goalkeeper Julani Archibald, who had glove to Joseph’s strike on the first, while Hughtun Hector stood the only scorer for Connection from the spot after midfield teammate Jomal Williams struck overbar on the third.
“I’m never under any pressure when it comes to penalty kicks,” explained Phillip after the game. “I just focus on the ball and keeping it out of my net. I try not to guess.”
Phillip said having entered the 2016 LSGS as underdogs due to their miserable results this season, makes winning the LSGS even more special. He added that Connection are a good team and were unlucky, but heaped praise on his teammates for coming away victorious after being reduced to 10 men.
Holder concurred. The Caledonia forward said, “Credit to my team for not giving up after going down 10 men. The fight was in all of us, not just me. We already had a poor run this season and reaching to this final motivated us.”
Holder added, “It was a real’ tough game till the end and I respect Connection all the way. It was a really good final and we have to [also] commend them (Connection).”
Caledonia made a clean sweep of individual accolades including Jerry Moe as Coach of the Tournament, while the club raked in TT$43,000 based on the LSGS prize money scheme. Connection took the runners-up trophy and TT$19,000.
Connection, this season’s First Citizens Cup and Toyota Classic champions, looked set for their third major trophy this season after forward Shahdon Winchester fired the “Savonetta Boys” ahead 1-0 in only the second minute of play when he smashed a right-footer into the roof of Phillip’s net after meeting a low cross from St. Lucia international Kurt Frederick following a release down the left by defender Jelani Peters.
But Holder levelled the score 1-1 in the 15th minute when he headed past Archibald after towering in the Connection area to meet a Kareem Joseph corner.
Connection, the 2009 and 2013 LSGS champions, were close to restoring their advantage twice within a space of five minutes but Phillip was unbeatable in the 20th minute when he tipped over a Hector free kick after Jomal Williams was brought down above the area by defender Ranaldo Bailey, who was later sent off on a second yellow card. And in the 25th minute Jomal struck the base of the upright after his solo run had left the Caledonia defence in a spin.
Caledonia then reminded Connection that they too were after the trophy when Schultz, from above the area, forced Archibald into a diving save four minutes before the break.
Connection, though, did find the go-head goal eight minutes into the second half but failed to avoid another Caledonia equaliser.
Andre Toussaint stabbed home from close range for a 2-1 Connection advantage after winning a favourable drop of the ball in the 53rd minute after challenging goalkeeper Phillip to a Winchester cross.
But an 82nd-minute screamer from 25-yards out by Holder struck the inside of the left upright before ending inside the opposite netting to leave Archibald, who dived at full stretch, beaten and the scores level at 2-2.
“It was all about passion,” said Holder over his double. “…not wanting to lie down after going behind and down to 10 men.”
Caledonia coach Jerry Moe credited the work of his technical staff including technical director Jamaal Shabazz, assistant coach Rajesh Latchoo and goalkeeper coach Steve Frederick among others, but said his players were the big heroes after “never quitting”.
Moe added, “We worked really hard for this victory and like we always try to let the players know, it’s not just about playing the game, but playing the game with passion and commitment. And they showed that tonight.
Moe wants to see his team’s success in the LSGS to transfer into the rest of the season including the Digicel Pro League competition – which resumes on May 3 – where his team occupies ninth-position on the ten-team ladder with three games left.
Holder’s second goal had refuelled Caledonia’s confidence after going down to 10 men when Bailey received his second yellow card of the game following an altercation with Connection’s Winchester, who was also booked, on the hour mark.
But it was the “Savonetta Boys”, who had a 69th minute Jomal headed goal disallowed for offside, that were closest to sealing a win and avoiding kicks from the penalty mark.
Jones with a powerful trademark free kick from 35 yards out troubled Phillip, who managed to parry the attempt in the third minute of stoppage-time before offside was ruled against Jomal on the follow-up. And in the final of five stoppage-time minutes played, Connection defender Daneil Cyrus directed a glancing header across the face of goal and out from a Jones free kick.
“We were definitely the better team on the night,” said W Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier. “…we controlled the whole game.”
Charles-Fevrier however, congratulated Caledonia on winning the LSGS title.
The W Connection coach said his side must now overcome the LSGS final disappointment and shift their focus on the Caribbean Club Championship 2016 final round in Haiti.
“This is football and we have to deal with [the final loss],” Charles-Fevrier explained. “Our players will be disappointed because they were clearly the better team on the night. But the better team don’t always win and we have to deal with it as a team and get ourselves ready for our next task which is to qualify for Concacaf and to win the Caribbean Club Championship.”
After topping their respective groups earlier this year, Connection, last season’s Caribbean Club Championship runners-up, will take on Jamaica's Arnett Gardens while defending champions, Central FC, are against host club Don Bosco FC in the semi-final round on Friday April 29 at the Stade Sylvio Cato, with both winners securing Concacaf Champions League spots for the 2016/17 season.
The Caribbean final, and third place play-off which will determine the third and final Caribbean spot at the Concacaf Champions League, will be contested on Sunday May 1.
W Connection 2 (Shahdon Winchester 2', Andre Toussaint 53') vs Morvant Caledonia United 2 (Sheldon Holder 15', 82')
Morvant Caledonia United won 4-1 on kicks from the penalty mark
Morvant Caledonia United 4 W Connection 1
Kareem Joseph (scored) Alvin Jones (saved)
Akim Armstrong (scored) Hughtun Hector (scored)
Sheldon Holder (scored) Jomal Williams (saved)
Pernell Schultz (scored)
W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald; 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams, 8.Briel Thomas (Yellow Card), 9.Shahdon Winchester (Yellow Card) (11.Neil Benjamin Jr. 67th minute), 10.Jomal Williams, 13.Hughtun Hector (Capt.), 14.Andre Toussaint (20.Jamal Charles 85th minute), 16.Alvin Jones, 25.Daneil Cyrus, 27.Jelani Peters
Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis, 4.Maurice Ford, 26.Paolo De La Guardia Alvarez, 34.Jabari Mitchell, 43.Malik St. Prix
Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier
Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Marvin Phillip; 3.Ranaldo Bailey (Yellow Card + Yellow Card = Red Card), 4.Ordell Flemming (Yellow Card) (32.Taje Commissiong 67th minute), 5.Maestro Mensah, 10.Sheldon Holder, 12.Kareem Joseph, 16.Antonio Joseph (Yellow Card) (18.Leslie Russell 64th minute), 17.Akim Armstrong, 19.Robert Primus, 22.Jameel Neptune, 28.Pernell Schultz
Unused substitutes: 8.Anthony Charles, 13.Kyle Bartholomew, 15.Otev Lawrence, 24.Gregson President, 34.Stephon Seepersad (GK)
Coach: Jerry Moe
Match Referee: Keon Yorke