Point Fortin Civic and W Connection were joined by supporters for a minute of silence in support Ferencvárosi defender Akeem Adams who is critical following a heart attack on Wednesday.
Six-time First Citizens Cup winners, DIRECTV W Connection, on Saturday battled the scorching sun, jet lag, a crowd of nearly 2000, and Point Fortin Civic to advance into the 2013 semifinal round.
Following a goalless regulation time, a 10-man Connection topped a nerve wrecking penalty shootout 6-5 at the Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin to advance past the quarterfinal round.
“With all that we are going through right now, our players really fight a good battle for the (club),” said Connection assistant coach Earl Jean following the match.
“It was difficult for us coming down Point Fortin. We are still with the disappointment of not winning our last [Concacaf Champions League game away to Houston Dynamo on Wednesday] and only returned to Trinidad on Thursday. Plus we had minor disciplinary problems [with team captain Joevin Jones and vice captain Daneil Cyrus for playing minor league football] to deal with.
“So it was a bit difficult for our players, with just one day rest, then to warm up in the 2:30pm hot sun for a game at 3:30pm. It was difficult for us because of everything. Point Fortin had a big crowd as well. Now we are not just proud of our boys for giving us the win, but how they fought for each other.”
Jean, a former Connection captain and striker, added that the club dedicates the win to former player, 22 year-old Akeem Adams, who is listed as critical at the Városmajori Heart Clinic Intensive Care Unit(ICU), Budapest, Hungary and survives on a mechanical heart while awaiting a heart implant surgery, after suffering a massive heart attack on Wednesday.
Adams, who joined Hungarian top club Ferencvárosi TC, in early August, is also a former Trinidad and Tobago U17, U20 and U23 footballer, and also has 9 caps with the Senior Team.
Jean said, “All our players came out and gave a good effort, and we want to dedicate this win to our former player who is fighting for his life Hungary. We all came together and said a good prayer for him before the match, and now this win is to help in his fight.”
Connection were trailing at the start of the penalty kicks, after Silvio Spann's kick crashed onto the upper part of the upright. But coach Stuart Charles Fevrier's men were back in contention following a save by goalkeeper Julani Archibald to deny Lyndon Diaz, and a miss by Sylvester Teesdale, hitting the base of the upright, in the fourth and fifth respectively for Point Fortin.
And although having a miss in the fourth themselves, with St. Lucian defender Kurt Frederick hitting overbar, Connection welcomed an eight kick, sudden death miss by Point Fortin's Keron Neptune.
The second half substitute blasted his kick out of the ground and into a neighbouring street.
Connection teenaged winger and second half substitute, Neil Benjamin Jr., was up next, and he comfortably struck past former Connection goalie, Marvin Phillip, triggering wild celebrations among the “Savonnetta Boys”, who were dwarfed by a dejected Point Fortin crowd.
“I think it’s always a lottery when it’s down to penalties,” added Jean, who watched the kicks from near the dressing room area after he was ejected from the technical area for arguing with fourth official Rodphin Harris just after the final whistle of regulation time.
“I think our young guys held their nerves,” continued Jean. “...Benjamin going up on the last kick and putting it away was very courageous.”
Despite the scorching heat, that clearly affected both sides, and even some spectators, especially during the first period, there were opportunities on either end.
Just a minute into the match, Point Fortin’s Marcus Joseph struck wide, and in the 15th minute the Trinidad and Tobago midfielder flicked another effort overbar from an Andre Toussaint pass.
Joseph tried again in the 21st minute, and was inches wide of the far post.
Teammate Sylvester Teesdale also missed the target two minutes earlier from a Toussaint corner.
But it was Connection that had the first effort on target in the 12th minute when Point Fortin defender Andre Ettienne had to make a clearance off the line to keep out Jamal Clarence’s strike from a Joao Ananias Jordao Jr. corner.
And four minutes before the break, 19 year-old Connection midfielder Jomal Williams, who disposed Toussaint of the ball before turning his marker, Lyndon Diaz, inside the area, whipped an effort inches overbar.
Connection on a counterattack four minutes into the second half, had sight of goal with Yefer Lozano but the Colombian’s try deflected out for a corner.
Then in the 54th minute, Connection’s Gerard Williams latched onto a poor clearance by Point Fortin with a superb first time volley that had goal written all over it. But fortunately for Point Fortin, they had T&T goalie Phillip between the uprights and he produced a brilliant diving save.
Local spectators, some of which peered from their windows, high porches and even rooftops, were much more supportive in the second period.
In the 58th minute Toussaint headed over from near the six yard area, after an Andrei Pacheco free kick partied in the area.
Five minutes later teammate Joseph dribbled past Jordao and hit into the side netting, earning cheers.
Point Fortin had another opportunity in the 75th minute when captain Kelvin Modeste's neat pass into the area set Toussaint free behind the area, but the striker sliced his effort wide of the far post.
Two minutes later Connection were reduced to 10-men when St. Kitts and Nevis international Gerard Williams was shown his second yellow by referee Neil Brizan for a foul on Toussaint.
“I think it was unfortunate,” Jean said, arguing that the midfielder’s the first yellow was unfair. “Gerard's first card [in the opening half] wasn't supposed to be. He was tackled by two players who clashed when he came out of the challenge. We got a hard time from the referees today, but it happens and we got to live with it.”
The resulting free-kick was taken by Pacheco, and the low tame effort was foiled comfortably by Connection's St. Lucian goalie, Archibald.
“I think it was a tough contest, but I think we didn't deserve to lose on penalties with the difference that we had,” said Point Fortin head coach Reynold Carrington following the kicks from the penalty mark.
The former Connection captain and midfielder added, "We didn't take our chances when we got them. I think the aggression needs to be there. I think Connection were a bit faster to the ball and we needed to match them a little more. Also with the inspiration of the crowd, our players needed to give some more with this being a home game.”
Connection will next tackle town-rivals Central FC on Friday 4 October in the semifinal round. Central defeated North East Stars 2-1 last Friday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in quarterfinal one.
“Wow! That’s another battle on our hands,” Jean said. “We accept the challenge and we want to give the young players a chance to enjoy the First Citizens Cup. We hope that our players will enjoy themselves and win the game against Central. But we know that it will be a tough game.”
Central head coach Terry Fenwick was a member of the crowd that bordered the Mahaica Oval playing field. T&T head coach Stephen Hart and head coach of Super League leaders, Club Sando, Anthony Streete, a former St. Ann's Rangers head coach and Connection assistant coach, were also among the spectators on Saturday.
Quarterfinal action continues on Monday 30 September at the Marvin Lee Stadium when St. Ann's Rangers take on San Juan Jabloteh from 6pm, and from 8pm Defence Force and two-time defending champs Caledonia AIA will do battle.
Kicks from the penalty mark
Point Fortin Civic (5) W Connection (6)
Matthew Bartholomew (scored) Silvio Spann (missed)
Marcus Joseph (scored) Mekeil Williams (scored)
Andrei Pacheco (scored) Jamal Clarence (scored)
Lyndon Diaz (saved) Kurt Frederick (missed)
Sylvester Teesdale (missed) Joao Ananias Jordao Jr. (scored)
Andre Ettienne (scored) Tremain Shayn Paul (scored)
Kelvin Modeste (scored) Christian Viveros (scored)
Keron Neptune (missed) Neil Benjamin Jr. (Scored)
W Connection – 18. Julani Archibald, 7. Silvio Spann (C), 2. Kurt Frederick, 3. Gerard Williams (Yellow+Yellow=Red Card), 24. Joao Ananias Jordao Jr., 26. Stefano Rijssel (25. Christian Ocoro Viveros 87th), 40. Jomal Williams (65. Neil Benjamin Jr. 64th), 15. Mekeil Williams, 19. Leslie Joel Russell, 17. Jamal Clarence, 27. Yefer Lozano (Yellow Card) (11. Tremain Shayn Paul 64th)
Unused substitutes – 22. Aquelius Sylvester, 13. Devaughn Elliot, 31. Jerrel Britto, 28. Yhon Stiven Lopez
Coach – Stuart Charles Fevrier
Point Fortin Civic – 1. Marvin Phillip, 6. Kelvin Modeste (C), 2. Garyl Doldron (18. Akeem Redhead 85th), 3. Lyndon Diaz, 4. Wesley John (Yellow Card), 5. Andre Ettienne, 19. Andrei Pacheco, 9. Marcus Joseph, 11. Andre Toussaint (15. Keron Neptune 87th), 14. Sylvester Teesdale, 16. Bevon Bass (10. Matthew Bartholomew 62nd)
Unused substitutes – 12. Miguel Payne (G), 7. Glen Sutton, 13. Kevin Rouse, 17. Andre Alexis
Coach - Reynold Carrington
Match Referee - Neil Brizan
Monday 30 September 2013
Quarter Final Round
Marvin Lee Stadium
St. Ann's Rangers vs San Juan Jabloteh—6pm
Defence Force vs Caledonia AIA—8pm
Friday 4 October 2013
Semi Final Round
Friday 18 October 2013