Defending champion bmobile Joe Public advanced to the final of the blink/bmobile National Super League (NSL) Knock-out competition, with a 6-5 sudden-death penalty-kick win over a formidable Westside Superstarz, on Sunday. Joe Public won from the spot after the second match of a double-header at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, ended in a 1-1 stalemate after 90 minutes, with both teams finishing with 10 men. Tobago club Stokely Vale also sealed a final berth after dropping newly-promoted 1st FC Santa Rosa 2-0 in the opener, with a double from the team’s top scorer Tyronne Manning. In the highly-anticipated and intense encounter between Joe Public, the league’s second place team and Westside which currently sits third, it was the reigning triple-crown winner Joe Public, which got off to the perfect start with a third minute item from Jamal Lewis from the penalty spot.
Joe Public pressed for an early lead and were rewarded when Rashad Griffith was toppled over by Westside keeper Stefan Berkeley and Lewis converted. Despite pressure, Joe Public held on to the slender lead into half time. However, less than five minutes into the restart, Westside, which lost 5-1 on the opening day of the season to the same opposition, found an equaliser through a Troy Thompson shot from the penalty spot. The penalty was also awarded when Joe Public’s stopper Jevon Bourne brought down Kareem Freitas in the penalty area, after the midfielder had skipped past the custodian. In the run of play, Joe Public had Devon King sent off for picking up a second yellow card in the 58th minute, to pile pressure on the champions. However, the match then went the full distance without either side making another breakthrough, but right before the final whistle, former St Mary’s College stand-out Jack Weedon also had his team reduced to 10 men for a second bookable offence in injury time. On penalty kicks, both teams slotted home their five allotted efforts, before Westside’s David Lendore had the team’s sixth penalty saved by Bourne. Donovan Derrick then stepped up and scored to give Joe Public a consecutive spot in the final.
Commenting after the match Joe Public coach Dale Saunders, who took up duties at the club at the start of the successful 2011 season, expressed satisfaction. “We should have won it in 90 minutes, however. After going down a man, we remained playing as if we were with 11 men, and we ought to have finished the match off,” said the former national midfielder. Westside coach Nigel Grosvenor, meanwhile said despite the loss of a number of first team players to professional clubs, the team did well. “I told the guys that we still have something to be proud about... holding the champions to a 1-1 draw into penalties. Losing so many players doesn’t make the task any easier, but we have to look at the bigger picture.” Westside have improved dramatically from its seventh placed finish last season, with Grosvenor, who is also the coach of last year’s SSFL “invincibles” and current league leader St Anthony’s College. Westside has lost just two matches this season, to Joe Public and WASA, and sits comfortably in third. Joe Public will have eyes set on another treble, while Westside realistically has sights on the league title, which it can attain with 12 matches remaining, given its fine form (with the exception of the loss to WASA in the last league match) continues. The final will be played on Sunday with at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, at 5 pm. All other teams in the league will have an extra week’s rest.
Stokely Vale 2 (Tyronne Manning 71st, 81st) v FC Santa Rosa 0
Joe Public FC 1 (Jamal Lewis 3rd) v Westside Superstarz 1 (Troy Thompson 50th)- Joe Public won 6-5 on penalty kicks.
WASA FC 4 (Fabian Garcia 48th, Ethan Robinson 50th, Michael-Lee Celestine 85th, Jahhan Hernandez 89th) v 1976 FC Phoenix 2 (Darren Mitchell 25th, 83rd)
Eagles United 1 (Jamal Antoine 69th) v Defence Force 0
KO Final- Stokely Vale v Joe Public, Dwight Yorke Stadium, 5 pm