TRINIDAD and Tobago failed to capitalise on a positive first-half performance as they drew 1-1 with Nicaragua in the Concacaf Nations League at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago on Monday night.
TT needed a win to finish top of Group C in League B and advance directly to the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup in USA in June. A victory also would have earned TT a place in Group A of the Nations League. As a result of finishing second in Group C, TT will have to compete in the Gold Cup qualification tournament which will take place days before the Gold Cup kicks off.
TT made a quick start as Shannon Gomez crossed the ball from the right side, but could not find anyone.
TT started with more possession but did not create any clear-cut chances in the opening five minutes. Most of TT’s attacks came up the right side early on as right-back Gomez was at the heart of most forward plays for the home team. Gomez showed pace and energy.
Nicaragua got a corner kick in the 11th minute, but it was cleared by the TT defence.
In the 13th minute, TT created the first great chance on goal. Andre Rampersad played the ball to Kaile Auvray who played a perfectly timed through ball to Keston Julien. Julien squared the ball to Tobago boy Rundell Winchester but his effort from a few yards out just missed the target.
TT dominated Nicaragua physically as well with Rampersad, Kareem Moses and Aubrey David all using their six-foot frames to their advantage.
In the 26th minute, Auvray showed his skill just outside the box evading two defenders. After earning a foul, Joevin Jones wasted the free kick as the effort failed to find a TT attacker.
Against the run of play, Nicaragua went in front in the 27th minute when Ariagner Smith headed home a cross from the right side.
A free kick in the 33rd minute from Jones 25 yards from goal was struck into the wall.
TT striker Ryan Telfer was then fouled and Jones slotted home the penalty to the right of goal-keeper Miguel Rodriguez in the 40th minute.
Telfer again proved a handful as he was fouled at the edge of the box in first-half stoppage time, but Auvray’s free kick went over the crossbar as the teams were locked 1-1 at half-time.
In the 50th minute, Auvray showed speed and skill yet again to get past two defenders but his effort from a tight angle was saved by Rodriguez.
Seconds later, substitute Reon Moore dribbled into the box, but he was pushed into a tight angle and was forced to cross the ball. The ball eventually fell to Jones, who was outnumbered by defenders and lost the ball.
In the 57th minute, Smith made a run up the right side but his shot from inside the box went wide. In the 59th minute, Jamie Moreno had a chance to give Nicaragua the lead but TT goal-keeper Nicklas Frenderup came out to narrow the angle and made the save.
Nicaragua enjoyed more possession in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
In the 69th minute, TT head coach Angus Eve made two substitutions bringing on John Paul Rochford and Noah
Powder for Auvray and Michel Poon-Angeron. The crowd was not pleased that Auvray was taken off the field. Triston Hodge was also introduced for Julien and Jones came off for Marcus Joseph.
TT lacked the speed they demonstrated in the first half as they seemed to suffer from some fatigue.
TT did not create chances as they did in the first half, but in the dying stages, substitute Marcus Joseph ran around the Nicaragua goalkeeper and slotted home.
However, he handled the ball and the goal was disallowed and the match ended 1-1.