Former Soca Warriors striker and all-time T&T leading scorer Stern John converted the decisive penalty and National Super League outfit, WASA FC stunned holders and three-time champions DirecTV W Connection 4-3 on penalty-kicks after a 1-1 draw in the Toyota Classic round-of-16 opener.
This was in the feature match of a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Saturday night, one the “Savonetta Boys” past winners in 2005, 2011 and 2013 would surely want to forget.
John, a 74th minute substitute grabbed the glory when he scored the winning kick against a side that really booted themselves out of the tournament.
W Connection's Hashim Arcia sent his team’s third kick onto the crossbar and on the fourth team-mate Neil Benjamin Jr blasted overbar as the finishing problem that marred the Pro League team’s regulation time performance continued before John converted the winner.
W Connection had taken an early 1-0 lead in the seventh minute of play when right full-back Alvin Jones smashed in a right-footer past a fully spread goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel.
But despite dominating on chances W Connection failed to find the back of the net again after ninety minutes plus stoppage time and had only themselves to blame.
Jones got close to a second in the 37th minute when his powerful free kick took a deflection to fly inches wide of Samuel's goal.
And before that teammates Tremain Shayn Paul and Akeem Garcia were also just wide of the target.
Connection also lost the advantage early inside the second period when former Trinidad and Tobago international Gary Glasgow pulled WASA level, 1-1, in the 49th minute with a delicate finish from the top of the six yard area.
Three minutes later WASA thought they had the lead when Mario Kissoon found the back of the net on a second bite from close up.
However referee Neal Brizan disallowed the goal and awarded Connection a free-kick, ruling that goalkeeper Julani Archibald was fouled in the process.
Kissoon was later replaced by Stern John with just sixteen minutes left and on his first involvement, seconds onto the pitch, the former Major League Soccer (MLS) star and England-based forward had an attempt at goal, hitting just wide from distance. But that was it for his involvement until stepping up for the winning hit on kicks from the penalty spot.
As for the Stuart Charles-Fevrier coached-Connection, sporting a new kit—arguably the best looking uniforms ever to be worn in Trinidad—failed to execute on the night.
Paul troubled the back support of the netting in the 67th minute when his effort from distance flew inches wide of the target.
Substitute Jerrel Britto also sent an effort inches wide of the target in the 81st minute and four minutes later Samuel was forced into a low save to deny Paul.
But the most disappointing misses came in stoppage time when substitute forward Keon Boucher struck high over bar from close up after Samuel blocked out a stinger of a free-kick by Jones, and then at the death Britto also spilled over bar with the goal at his mercy after making contact to a low cross from the right by Jones. In the end W Connection paid the price of exit.
With the exception of defending champions W Connection, the prowess of Caledonia AIA, Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh were beyond their Super League opponents in other matches on Saturday.
Defence Force's Super League outfit felt the brunt of the Pro League, falling 3-0 against Caledonia, in the first match of the Couva double-header. Nathan Lewis, who was denied by the upright once on either half and even had a strike cleared off the line by Super League's Defence Force's Dwight Scott in the second period, broke the soldiers in the 32nd minute for a 1-0 advantage by blasting his strike past goalkeeper Dillon Prince.
It was not until the 76th minute that Caledonia got to its second item for a 2-0 cushion with Pernell Schultz, who earlier struck the crossbar, deservingly the scorer.
Substitute Kyle Adams then sealed the 3-0 win in the 82nd minute to send Caledonia through to the quarterfinals.And the scoreline could have been richer had Dominican forward Julian Wade put away just a couple of his chances, one of which he shockingly hit wide of an open net in the 16th minute.
At the Marvin Lee Stadium, Caledonia's Pro League rivals, Defence Force Defence Force, was the biggest winner on the day, trashing Petrotrin Palo Seco 6-0 in the second match of a double-header.
Devorn Jorsling bagged a hat-trick for Defence Force, netting in the 30th, 45th and 69th minutes, while team-mates Kerry Joseph (53rd), Jemel Sebro (77th) and Darryl Trim (81st) added one each to send Palo Seco packing.
Surprise Digicel Pro League leaders San Juan Jabloteh were also celebrating a Super League scalp in that of Tobago's 1976 FC Phoenix 4-0.
The Tobagonians trailed 1-0 from as early as the 17th minute when Simon Nedd scored an own goal by knocking in a Brendon Boucaud rebound which crashed off the crossbar.
Jabloteh followed-up with a first half double by Troy Moses, netting in the 31st and 40th minutes, for a comfortable 3-0 lead before the break.
In the 60th minute Jabloteh failed to improve the advantage when it seemed that the San Juan club’s Tobagonian forward Andell Noray felt a bit of sympathy for his former club when he struck the crossbar from the penalty spot.
But teammate Johan Peltier showed to mercy by making it 4-0 on the 69th minute to complete the scoring for Jabloteh, tournament champions in 2008 and runner-up in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Yesterday, host Pt Fortin Civic got a goal each from Marcus Joseph, Andre Toussaint and Andrei Pacheco to blank St Ann’s Rangers 3-0 at Mahaica Oval in the only Pro League tie of the round while Police FC turned back last season’s semi-finalists Guaya United of the Super League at the St James Barracks.
Due to heavy rainfall, last Friday’s preliminary round clashes between Central FC and La Horquetta SA; and Club Sando and North East Stars will be contested next weekend.
The tournament winners will receive $50,000 while the runner-up gets $20,000. The top “Goalscorer” and “Coach of the Tournament” will receive $1,000 eah while $1,500 will be awarded to the “Most Valuable Player” overall.
Toyota Classic 2014
San Juan Jabloteh 4 (Simon Nedd own goal 17th, Troy Moses 31st, 40th) vs 1976 FC Phoenix 0
Defence Force (Pro League) 6 (Devorn Jorsling 30th, 45th, 69th, Kerry Joseph 53rd, Jemel Sebro 77th, Darryl Trim 81st) vs Petrotrin Palo Seco 0
Caledonia AIA 3 (Nathan Lewis 32nd, Pernell Schultz 76th, Kyle Adams 82nd) vs Defence Force (Super League) 0
WASA FC 1 (Gary Glasgow 49th) vs W Connection 1 (Alvin Jones 7th) – WASA won 4-3 on penalty-kicks
St. James Barracks
Police FC vs Guaya United—4 pm (Boris Punch 794-3541)
Pt Fortin Civic 3 (Marcus Joseph 37th, Andre Toussaint 58th, Andrei Pacheco 62nd) vs St Ann’s Rangers 0
Quarterfinals: Friday November 28 & Saturday November 29
Semifinals: Friday December 5
Final: Friday December 12