Conrod Smith came off the bench to bang home the winner as ten-man bmobile Joe Public came from the brink of defeat to edge W Connection 3-2 in the T&T Football Federation FA Trophy final at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. With the win, their first in three attempts against W Connection in the FA final, the Kerry Baptiste-led Eastern Lions added to their previous wins in 2001 and 2007 while copping their fourth title from six competitions this season. In addition to the FA Trophy, Joe Public coach Derek King and his players collected the $80,000 first prize and 25 gold medals to add to the Digicel Pro League, "Big Six" and Toyota Classic titles.
On the other hand, three-time FA winners W Connection (1999, 2000 and 2002) and six-time finalist got $40,000 and 25 silver medals for second spot while losing semifinalist, United Petrotrin and Caledonia, each got $15,000. Watched by a partisan crowd which included club owner and Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, Joe Public took only 14 minutes to go 1-0 ahead, when Baptiste spectacularly volleyed home a right sided cross from Kareem Young past goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams for his 48th goal of the domestic season. After a period of even exchanges, punctuated by some crunching tackles, W Connection drew level in the 36th minute when Joe Public goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa failed to collect a Matthew Bartholomew shot and Clyde Leon tapped home for a 1-1 scoreline. Three minutes later, Joe Public was reduced to ten men after national Under-20 midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford was shown the red card by referee Neil Brizan for retaliation after he was fouled by W Connection defender, Eder Arias.
Despite the advantage, W Connection failed to press home their brief period of dominance as both teams ended the half, 1-1. The "Savonetta Boys" began the second-half the better of both teams with half-time introduction, Jose Luis Seabra and Bartholomew both testing Figueroa with long range efforts. Dominican Republic striker Jonathan Frias then came close to giving W Connection the lead in the 65th minute when he turned defender Carlyle Mitchell and rifled a right footer on goal which skimmed the cross-bar. Ten minutes before the final whistle W Connection finally went ahead when a Joevin Jones pin-point left sided centre was met with a powerful diving header from Bartholomew that gave Figueroa no chance. King then introduced his last substitute in Gorean Highley for Young, and the nippy left footer responded to the call by creating his team's equaliser, from a left sided centre which was turned into his own goal by a diving Arias to send the match into 30 minutes of extra-time.
And with only three minutes of the extra-time period remaining and penalty-kicks looming, Smith, who won the FA Trophy with Caledonia came up big for his new employers. After a raid by W Connection was broken up, Trent Noel started a counter-attack for Joe Public and fed Smith who raced goalwards with three defenders in his path. With no team-mate in sight, Smith tried his luck on goal from the edge of the box but was blocked out by defender Elijah Joseph. However, the determine Smith, who up to that point had done little to impress coach King quickly rose to his feet and without hesitation blasted a right footed shot which sneaked into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, past the desperate dive of Williams for a 3-2 lead which his team-mates defended until the final whistle.
Joe Public: Alejandro Figueroa(GK), Kerry Baptiste(capt.), Carlyle Mitchell, Seon Power, Keion Goodridge, Kareem Young (Gorean Highley 83rd), Jean-Luc Rochford, Yu Hoshide (Devon Leacock 66th), Trent Noel, Micah Lewis (Conrod Smith 60th), Hayden Tinto.
Coach: Derek King
W Connection: Jan-Michael Williams (GK), Elijah Joseph(capt.), Hughton Hector, Eder Gilmar Arias, Clyde Leon, Jonathon Frias (Igor Santos 96th), Nickcolson Thomas, Matthew Bartholomew (Andrei Pacheco 86th), Christian Viveros, Joevin Jones, Gerrard Williams.
Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier
Wednesday's FA Trophy semifinal results:
Venue: Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.
Joe Public 3 (Kerry Baptiste 14th, Eder Arias 89th o.g, Conrod Smith 117th) vs W Connection 2 (Clyde Leon 36th, Matthew Bartholomew 80th).