FOURTH FA WIN: W Connection captain Gerard Williams hold aloft the trophy as they celebrated winning the 2013 FA Trophy on Wednesday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. W Connection beat Central FC 6-5 on penalty kicks, after a 2-2 extra-time draw. —Photo: Dexter Philip

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Connection end 11-year drought

... beat Central FC on penalties in 2013 FA Trophy final

By • Ian Prescott ian.prescott@trinidadexpress.com

Directv W Connection know how to win Trinidad and Tobago FA Trophy finals. So far, Central FC only know how to reach them.

The Savonetta Boys won the 2013 final when they edged Central FC 6-5 on kicks from the penalty spot after Tobago midfielder Darren Mitchell put a powerful shot off the woodwork at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Wednesday night. The previous 120 minutes of regulation play and extra-time left the Central Trinidad rivals fairly balanced at 2-2, without either team ever really firing full throttle. 

For Williams and Connection, it was a fourth FA Trophy success, but the first in 11 years since beating Arima Fire 5-0 in the 2002 decider at Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. W Connection won three FA Trophy finals (1999, 2000 & 2002) in the first four years of their existence. They have also lost three, one short of the two-year-old Central FC club, beaten finalist in 2012 and now 2013. 

David John Williams is like an ambitious kid. He has the most toys—in this case trophies—but always want one more. The W Connection president was in sweet mood when Mitchell missed the last of 12 penalties taken.

“Champions again. Champions,” Williams shouted. He was happy. Very happy.

It was not an exciting final. There was no flood of chances. But, every moment was hard fought. W Connection were pressured at times into abandoning their smooth-passing style, but still got the first goal. Jomal Williams put them ahead 1-0 lead in the 27th minute with a back post header onto a cross from the left back Alvin Jones. However, Dwight Quintero soon brought Central FC level at 1-1 when his shot deflected past Connection goalkeeper Jelani Archibald in the 30th minute, and they went ahead 2-1 in the 57th when veteran midfielder Marvin Oliver converted a penalty.

Quintero was first to react to Jason Marcano’s overhead chip and was bundled over from behind as he entered the penalty area. But Neil Benjamin Jr cancelled W Connection’s deficit in the 63rd after chipping Hashim Arcia’s curling cross over keeper Jan Michael Williams. 

The surface was heavy, and hard to play good football on. It favoured the direct English-type style of The Sharks. Former England international Terry Fenwick wanted Central to play high-pressure football and move the ball around quickly; to contest every first ball, to win every second challenge.

“Second ball, second ball,” Fenwick barked all night. Fenwick usually works up a sweat on the sidelines, and is as soaked as the players afterwards.

Quintero was the target man, and a handful for the defenders, while the heavy surface was homemade for Marcano’s midfield dribbling. Veteran Oliver was also effective in centrefield, and Akeem Benjamin forceful at the back. But Rundell Winchester, Central FC’s top-scorer, was almost absent and well collared by the left back Alvin Jones, who put in the cross for the opening goal.

Between the goals scored, there were some half chances and the pressures of an important final. There were controversial moments. Referee Neil Brizan and his side official were under fire for indecisiveness leading up to the opening W Connection goal. Both teams contested whether or not W connection striker Mickael Jem Gordon was offside; Marvin Oliver screamed in Brizan’s face. Brizan ultimately gave W Connection the ball, and they scored.

“Brizan, you not on show tonight. It’s the players,” Central FC’s usually gentle manager Norris Ferguson shouted.  

W Connection reserves started, while regular starters, goalkeeper Jelani Archibald, Arcia, Surinamese Steffano Rijjsel, Joevin Jones, Daneil Cyrus and  Brazilian right back Joao Ananias were all on the bench. W Connection only turned to their main man Jones five minute before regulation play ended, but he made little impact, after turning wide Benjamin’s pass seconds after coming on. 

Instead, 19-year-old Benjamin Jr scored once and was also an active threat all night. He is a definite talent, but overindulges. He’s quick, has trickery, but always wants the extra touch, and the ball on his comfortable right foot. With less comfort, Benjamin might have scored a couple more goals, and only got one when pressure from goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams forced him into an instant reaction. Later, Benjamin gratefully accepted the MVP award.

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