Jamiel Hardware and Fabien Reid scored in either half as Jamaica earned a 2-1 win over hosts Trinidad and Tobago, in their self-dubbed “Caribbean Clasico” – a friendly football international at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Thursday evening.
This result was the fourth loss in a row for the Dennis Lawrence-coached Trinidad and Tobago outfit, following 2-0 and 2-1 away defeats to the United States and Costa Rica in respective 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round Qualifiers in June, as well as a 3-1 setback away to Ecuador in July.
Defender Kevon Villaroel got the lone strike for TT, in an entertaining first half, but the hosts were unable to gain the morale-boosting win they were seeking against the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup runners-up.
This game served as the final practice match for the Trinidad and Tobago team, ahead of their pair of World Cup Qualifiers against Honduras (at home on September 1) and Panama (away on September 5).
While the fans, which ranged in the region of 7,000, were still entering the venue, Jamaica were ahead 1-0.
In the fifth minute of play, Marvin Morgan swung in a diagonal ball from the left which met his fellow winger Jameil Hardware, inside the penalty box. Hardware evaded a challenge from a TT defender before thumping a left-footed shot high over goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
TT left-back Villaroel, who was partly culpable for the Jamaica goal, atoned in spectacular fashion five minutes, as his cross, from deep, sailed over the head of Jamaica goalie Amal Knight and nestled to his top left-hand corner.
As the game did not fall on a FIFA international date, both teams fielded mostly local-based players, though Trinidad and Tobago had the luxury of two overseas-based pros in their ranks – wing-back Aubrey David, who was used in central defence, and winger Cordell Cato.
Cato, who was dropped by Lawrence ahead of the aforementioned US game for disciplinary reasons, was one of the few bright sparks for TT as he showed good awareness and energy, on both flanks, while David looked comfortable in partnership with Triston Hodge in the back.
In the 17th minute, Cato, on the right, returned the ball to the overlapping Alvin Jones whose pass into the penalty box was struck wide by midfielder Hughtun Hector.
Striker Marcus Joseph capitalised on a defensive lapse by the Jamaicans and fed defensive midfielder Jared London who sent his effort wide while, on the opposite end, a poor clearance fell to Reid who narrowly missed the target from outside the penalty area.
Both teams made a few changes in the second half, but Jamaica, who threatened early when Ewan Grandison tested Phillip with a low drive from outside the penalty box, regained the lead in the 56th.
Jones was booked for a foul by referee Sherwin Johnson of Guyana and captain Michael Binns’ freekick came off the body of Reid before going to the right of Phillip – though the TT players protested vehemently for an apparent handle-ball.
In the 66th, Hashim Arcia, who replaced Hector at the half, only had himself to blame as he went at Knight instead of attempting a shot, when he was picked out unmarked by Cato; that effort was denied by the alert goalie, while Joseph spurned two good chances to equalise, in the 69th and 73rd.
However, while the decisions of the referee consistently raised the ire of Lawrence, there was a moment which may reignite a debate on the security system at such events.
A goal by Jones, in stoppage time, was disallowed for off-side but a fan, from the north-eastern end, comfortably ran onto the field to congratulate Joseph, and he calmly ran back to the stands, without any intervention by the stewards on the ground.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Marvin Phillip (capt); Triston Hodge, Aubrey David, Kevon Villaroel, Alvin Jones; Jared London, Curtis Gonzales (Neil Benjamin 80th), Cordell Cato, Nathan Lewis (Tyrone Charles 61st), Hughtun Hector (Hashim Arcia 46th); Marcus Joseph.
JAMAICA: Amal Knight; Ladale Richie, Rosario Harriott, Ricardo Morris, Javain Brown; Michael Binns (capt), Marvin Morgan (Alex Marshall 69th), Jamiel Hardware (Kaheem Parris 80th), Ewan Grandison; Fabien Reid (Rondee Smith 85th), Shamar Nicholson (Jermaine Johnson 72nd).