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Gorean Highley (yellow boots) goal helps JP to fifth title.Joe Public FC players have every right to be wary of the breathalyser as they have had so much champagne this season.

The ’Eastern Lions’ toasted another success on Friday night when landing an unprecedented fifth major trophy for the 2009 campaign and, more importantly, the richest knockout prize of the season, the $100,000 Digicel Pro Bowl, with a 5-3 triumph on penalty kicks over Caledonia AIA at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

Victory in the season-ending Pro Bowl capped a fairy tale year for Joe Public, who also picked up the Digicel Pro Bowl, Big Six, Toyota Classic and FA Trophy in 2009, more silverware than any club had previously gathered in a single season.

Afterwards, coach Derek King was lost for words at what he had achieved at age 28.

’I’m speechless. Five titles in one season...it is wonderful,’ King declared.

’I want to thank Mr (Jack) Warner, Darryan Warner and the Warner family for giving me the opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands...and it was very outstanding.’

King’s men did it the hard way, though, in their third game in five days.

The final was played mainly in the first half where Caledonia AIA dominated the opening half hour after getting an early goal from inspirational midfielder Densil ’Bleeder’ Theobald, who hit through a crowded penalty area to give his team a third minute lead.

But, having failed to press further ahead, AIA let the Lions back in the match in the latter part of the first session, when noted dribbler Gorean ’Ratty’ Highley banged in a loose, bouncing ball from close up to bring Joe Public level at 1-1 in the 35th minute.

After a largely forgettable second half, in which substitute striker Keyon Edwards almost won the game for ’Cali’ in the dying seconds, the Morvant-Laventille club never recovered from Keon Daniel’s opening miss in the penalty shootout, when he kicked nonchalantly and had his tame effort gleefully gobbled up by Joe Public keeper Alejandro Figueroa.

Justified or not, folks love to hate Jack Warner, owner of the successful Joe Public organisation, and after the match one angry fan confronted the FIFA vice-president and Opposition Member of Parliament, accusing him of being ’too greedy’.

However, Warner paid him no mind, preferring to concentrate on the good things done by his team this year under young coach King, who has earned him $550,000 in prize money.

If Warner’s revelation of investing $4 million in Joe Public is correct, then he has made a significant financial loss this season.

Still, he has promised his triumphant playing staff a huge Christmas bonus.

But will Warner be so charitable if they flop next season?

For now, success breeds success and there was no flopping on Friday night, although the Eastern Lions looked a tired bunch in the second half after a very long season.

Caledonia were once again out to derail their ambitions and put everything into the first 30 minutes when they hardly made a bad pass.

Joe Public’s Colombian custodian Figueroa conceded the early goal due more to the activity in front of him than the moderate shot which Theobald put in, after picking up a short corner from Daniel.

’Cali’ were making all the running and striker Randolph Jerome put a shot wide, while Joe Public’s lone threat in the opening stages was a moderate header over bar by defender Keion Goodridge from a corner kick.

But, even with this season’s 48-goal scorer Kerry Baptiste shadowed out of the game by Caledonia captain Charles ’Lily’ Pollard, Joe Public got going late in the half.

And though a bit scrappy, ’Ratty’ was on spot to clean up when Caledonia failed to get a bouncing ball out of their six-yard box.

AIA still managed two chances before the half ended, Jerome stretching before putting a header wide and Akim Armstrong lifting Daniel’s good cross over bar from a central position.

A largely forgettable second half was marked by a big 81st minute save from Caledonia AIA’s Jamaican keeper Kevin Graham, who made up for some diabolical AIA defending with a tremendous stop at the back post to push away Highley’s shot.

Caledonia had one more surge in the dying seconds, in which substitute Sherron Joseph tapped the crossbar from a central position, while Edwards stretched to meet a dangerous ball at the back post of the Joe Public goal.

The second final between the two teams ended in a case of deja vu for both Caledonia and Joe Public.

But, at the end of a tremendous season and after rivals have become friends again, all that John Public can do now is say ’cheers to Joe Public’. They have been a joy to watch.

2009 DIGICEL PRO BOWL FINAL:
Caledonia AIA 1 (Densill Theobald 3rd) v Joe Public 1 (Gorean Highley 35th)

Penalty kicks:
Joe Public 5 (Kerry Baptiste, Trent Noel, Conrad Smith, Carlyle Mitchell, Seon Power).
Caledonia AIA 3 (Kareem Joseph, Stephan David, Sherron Joseph (Keon Daniel’s kick saved by keeper Alejandro Figueroa).

Teams:

Joe Public: 1-Alejandro Figueroa, 4-Kerry Baptiste (capt), 19-Carlyle Mitchell, 20-Seon Power, 4-Keion Goodridge,14-Kareem Young, 15-Yu Hoshide (Conrad Smith 70th), 18-Trent Noel, 7-Hayden Tinto (16-Micah Lewis 60th).

Subs not used: 24-Andre Marchand (GK), 6-Devon Leacock, 13-Jason Springer, 5-Julien Landeau, 17-Jean-Luc Rochford.

Coach: Derek King.

Caledonia AIA: 34-Kevin Graham, 13-Charles Pollard (capt), 7-Stephan David, 12-Kareem Joseph, 15-Walter Moore, 17-Akim Armstrong (Sherron Joseph), 18-Ryan Stewart (11-Abdallah Phillips 68th), 19-Keon Daniel, 21-Densill Theobald, 27-Nuru Abdallah Muhammed, 35-Randolph Jerome (9-Keyon Edwards 70th).

Subs not used: 8-Kestor Jacobs, 16-Marcos Ambrose, 31-Kerry Daniel, 33-Zane Cooker.

Coach: Jamal Shabaaz.


Joe Public capture fifth crown.
By Joel Bailey (T&T Newsday).


A year of glory concluded for Joe Public with a penalty-kick triumph, by a 5-3 margin, over 2008 champs Caledonia AIA to seize the Digicel Pro Bowl crown at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Friday night.

Joe Public will add this title to the Digicel Pro League, Big Six, Toyota Classic and FA Trophy which they copped all since early November.

Friday’s match ended with a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time and, with penalties required to determine the winner, Joe Public’s captain Kerry Baptiste scored, with an effort which struck the crossbar and goalkeeper Kevin Graham’s body before going in.

But Baptiste’s teammate on the national side Keon Daniel saw his weak left-footed try saved by Alejandro Figueroa, diving to his right, and Caledonia were on the backfoot from there onwards.

Trent Noel, substitute Conrad Smith and Carlyle Mitchell all converted their efforts for Joe Public, while Kareem Joseph, Stephan David and Sherron Joseph responded for Caledonia.

The scores were 4-3 in Joe Public’s favour, and defender Seon Power thundered his right-footer high to Graham’s right to spark uninhibited joy from the Joe Public camp. In only the third minute of play, Daniel played a short corner, from the left, to Theobald who saw his right-footed drive dummied by striker Randolph Jerome past the left of the bemused Figueroa.

But Joe Public shook off any sign of leg-weariness (they were playing their fourth game in eight days) when they replied in the 35th, as wing-back Kareem Moses swung in a cross from the right and Baptiste played in Gorean Highley to slot his left-footer to the left of Graham.

Chances were few and far in between afterwards, but, in the penalty shoot-out, Joe Public held their nerves to walk away with the $100,000 jackpot.

Both teams made a few changes to the squads that emerged victorious in the semi-finals, by 1-0 margins over Defence Force and Ma Pau respectively.

National midfielders Theobald and Daniel recovered from injuries to replace Kerry Daniel and Marcus Ambrose while Jerome was inserted as the centre forward in place of Keyon Edwards.

Joe Public replaced Jean-Luc Rochford with fellow defensive midfielder Kareem Young, winger Micah Lewis with Highley and injured central defender Keyeno Thomas with the inexperienced Moses — with Power moving into the stopper position.

But Caledonia, who were without the serves of Daniel and Theobald for a month, were indebted to the duo for the opening goal, which caught the Joe Public defence by surprise.

In the 17th minute, Highley swung in a corner deep to the left but Keion Goodridge could not keep down his header,

Even though Caledonia tried to use the counter-attack and the wings to exploit Joe Public’s apparent fatigue, their defence did not hold as firm as it should, as it allowed Highley to equalise through a well-worked midfield move.

Caledonia could have regained the lead before the half-time interval, both from crosses on the left, but Jerome headed Walter Moore’s ball wide of Figueroa’s right post while Akim Armstrong, positioned in front of the goalie, directed his header overbar, from Daniel’s freekick.

The second half saw both teams try in vain to break down each other’s defences, but with congested midfield territories, it was always going to be difficult, especially with a title at stake. With Jason Springer coming on for an injured Moses late in the first half, Joe Public’s coach Derek King brought on Lewis and Smith midway in the second half, while Edwards and Jerome swapped places subsequently.

The tempo slowly rose later on, as Theobald tested Figueroa with a right-footer, from the edge of the penalty area, in the 79th minute while, a minute later, defender Nuru Muhammed allowed Lewis’ left-sided ball to float over his head to a lurking Highley, whose left-footed poke was magnificently denied, to his left, by Graham.

An attack from Caledonia, on the stroke of full-time, saw Theobald square the ball across to Daniel on the left who gave the ball to substitute Sherron Joseph, but his right-footer sailed high. And Armstrong made a run from the right and released Daniel down the left, whose cross met Edwards but the forward, on the run, could not keep down his right-footed effort.

Teams –

Caledonia AIA: Kevin Graham; Charles Pollard (capt), Nuru Muhammed, Walter Moore, Kareem Joseph; Stephan David, Densill Theobald, Ryan Stewart (Sherron Joseph 81st), Keon Daniel, Akim Armstrong; Randolph Jerome (Keyon Edwards 70th).

Joe Public: Alejandro Figueroa; Seon Power, Carlyle Mitchell, Keion Goodridge, Kareem Moses (Jason Springer 38th); Kareem Young, Hayden Tinto (Micah Lewis 60th), Gorean Highley, Yu Hoshide (Conrad Smith 70th), Trent Noel; Kerry Baptiste (capt).


Figueroa comes up big
...as Joe Public bags five titles.
By: Nigel Simon (T&T Guardian).


First year coach Derek King, 29, and his bmobile Joe Public players wrote their names into the local football history books when they captured a record fifth title for the 2009 season on Friday night. Nicknamed the ‘Eastern Lions’ Joe Public achieved the feat when they won the Digital Pro Bowl at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Joe Public came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw in regulation time with last year’s winner, Caledonia AIA of Morvant/Laventille before securing a 5-3 penalty-kicks win thanks to Colombian goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa, who denied Caledonia’s Keon Daniel first penalty-attempt in the shoot-out.

Having won the Digital Pro League, “Big Six”, Toyota Classic and the T&T Football Federation FA Trophy, on Wednesday night, King’s men were on a quest to separate themselves from the 2001 W connection side, which had also won four titles domestically in addition to the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship.

And before an appreciative crowd the Jack Warner owned club did just that proving that they are really kings of the T&T Pro League.

However, early on it seemed that the now regular after match celebrations and champagne bath would have had to be put on hold for another time as the well rested Caledonia, beaten in the FA semis by Joe Public on Monday, 3-1 seemed intent on exacting revenge and holding onto to its title.

Caledonia coach Jamaal Shabazz could not have asked for a better start as within three minutes of the match kick-off by referee Gregory Hospedales his team went ahead in somewhat of a comical fashion through midfielder Densill Theobold.

Theobold, making his first start in over two weeks due to an ankle injury fired in a shot on goal from some distance which team-mate, Guyana’s Randolph Jerome tried to redirect with an attempted header but missed.

The missed by Jerome caught defender Seon Power and Figueroa off guard as the ball trickled into the goal to the delight of the Caledonia players, who no doubt could not have believed their fortune. As Joe Public, playing its fourth match in seven days, and third in five days took its time to find its rhythm Caledonia continued to look the better of both teams.

But against the run of play somewhat, the lively Gorean “Ratty” Highley drew the “Eastern Lions” level in the 35th minute.

Highley was on spot to tap home from close range past Jamaican goalkeeper Kevin Graham after the Caledonia defence failed to clear a couple shots at their goal. The defending champions then had two chances to regain the lead before the break, but strikers Jerome and Akim Armstrong, both headed off target.

With the minutes ticking away in the second-half, Joe Public and Caledonia introduced fresh legs up front, with Conrad Smith (Joe Public) and Keyon Edwards (Caledonia) being introduced for Yu Hoshide and Jerome respectively in the 70th minute as both teams went in search of the go-ahead goal.

A minute Caledonia's Kareem “Tiny” Joseph almost handed his team the lead but he hooked a right footed shot wide of target and eight minutes later Figueroa was called into action to keep out a long range effort from Theobold.

At the other end of the field, Graham was also forced to make a brilliant save from Highley from a Micah Lewis' cross while in the final minute Caledonia substitutes Sherron Joseph and Keyon Edwards just missed the target to send the match into the dreaded penalty-kicks where Keon Daniel’s (back after an injury layoff) lazy effort was brilliantly kept out by Figueroa diving to his right. Kareem Joseph, Stephan David and Sherron Joseph scored Caledonia’s three other attempts.

On the otherhand the “Eastern Lions” made no mistake with their spot kicks as captain, Kerry Baptiste, Trent Noel, Conrad Smith, Carlyle Mitchell and Seon Power all converted to land the $100,000 winner-take-all first prize.

The lone consolation for Caledonia was the $1,000 cheque for Theobold who was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the final, a decision which did not go down too well with most of the spectators on hand and rightfully so.

In the night’s first match, national and East Zone BGTT Secondary Schools Football League champions, St Augustine Secondary, defeated national Coca-Cola Inter-Col champions, El Dorado East Secondary 2-1 for the Digicel Invitational Challenge Trophy.