Point for Boyz – Hosts held 2-2 by T&T in opening match

February 16th, 2011

Jamaica’s Andre Lewis (left) tries to get by Nicholas Marcano of Trinidad and Tobago during their CONCACAF Under-17 Championship match at the Montego Bay Sports Complex yesterday. Lewis scored Jamaica’s second goal as the teams drew 2-2. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Jamaica’s dream of qualifying for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup suffered a minor glitch after battling to a 2-2 draw with arch-rivals Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) yesterday at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

Jamaica took the lead, but had to pull out all the stops for a share of the points in a game they dominated from the word go.

Jason Wright converted a controversial penalty in the 41st minute to give the hosts the lead, but T&T struck back with two goals in seven minutes from Shackeil Henry in the 57th and 64th minutes.

Then it took a brilliant goal from Andre Lewis in the 78th minute for the Jamaicans to rally for a crucial point in the three-team Group C which also involves Guatemala.

Head coach Wendell Downswell said a bit of complacency was the reason his team faltered in the second half.

Said Downswell: “Maybe complacency crept in. We gave up two soft goals… if we didn’t make a mistake we would have won the match.

Jamaica’s King Kaya Beckford (right) challenges Neil Benjamin of Trinidad and Tobago during their CONCACAF Under-17 Championship match at the Montego Bay Sports Complex yesterday. The game ended 2-2. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

“From the result standpoint we are disappointed and we must win the next game,” he added.

For T&T’s coach Shawn Cooper, it wasn’t a bad result as they are still in the hunt.

“It’s a good result for us. We’re still undefeated on Jamaican soil. But it’s a good point for us. We lost two points but we are still in this,” he said.

“Why can’t the two Caribbean teams go through?” he asked.

When asked if he was disappointed with conceding a late equaliser, Copper said: “Class is class. It was a brilliant, well-executed goal. When you have a 17-year-old controlling the ball on his chest and volleying home…”

Playing in front of a large home crowd, the young Reggae Boyz dominated early, putting T&T on the backfoot, but despite their dominance, the breakthrough was taking longer than normal as T&T offered very little offensively.

On one of his many surges down the left flank, Kemo Wallace’s attempted cross was ruled by Mexican referee Ricardo Arellano to have been handled by Neil Benjamin in the box.

But with the naked eye, the infringement seemed to have taken place outside the penalty box.

Wolmerian Wright confidently dispatched the penalty with aplomb, sending the venue into ecstasy as the World Cup dream looked alive.

The half ended one nil in favour of the home team, but the young Soca Warriors were very much still in the hunt and they came out firing at the start of the second period and had Jamaica on the backfoot.

The red and black-clad boys pulled level after Jamaican goalkeeper Odean Clarke spilled an easy free-kick which rebounded off Shackeil Henry and rolled into the goal.

A collective groan of disappointment ushered over the ground as the home fans couldn’t believed what they had just saw.

But they responded well, testing the T&T goalkeeper with consecutive corners, one which had goal written over it only to see Quesi Weston parrying for another corner.

But with Jamaica pressing for the winner, they were left exposed at the back and a simple reverse pass dismantled the Jamaican backline and Henry pounced, firing home his second in the 64th minute giving T&T a 2-1 lead..

But Jamaica got a lifeline when St George’s Manning Cupper Lewis controlled a cross on his chest and volleyed past the diving Weston in goal to pull Jamaica level in the 78th minute.

The home boys gained the upperhand and pressed for the winner with substitute Cardell Benbow and Romario Williams sparking a renewed effort.

In the end, time ran out and Jamaica disappointedly had to share the points with their Caribbean counterpart.

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