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T&T vs Antigua and Barbuda (12-Jan-2005).
Thu Jan 13, 2005 14:32

No jolly scenes as T&T lose to Antigua.
Shaun Fuentes in Antigua.

The scenes at the Antigua Recreation Ground turned out to be the unexpected as Trinidad and Tobago suffered its first ever defeat to Antigua and Barbuda, going down 2-1 in a warm-up match on Wednesday evening.
It was originally carded to be a training engagement for coach Bertille St Clair’s team, but instead the hosts opened the gates to the public and about 2,000 fans showed up to the sounds of Burning Flames blasting from the music boxes to witness their team produce a high spirited performance.
St Clair saw some dubious calls by the referee, among them being a blatant use of the hand by a defender to push away Anthony Rougier’s goal bound shot in the late stages. But rather than search for excuses for the defeat, St Clair told his players to reflect on the match and accept it as a harsh lesson before the big test.
"I don’t think it would make sense to dwell on the end result at this stage. We came here to use this as part of a training camp and while it’s not good at all to lose to Antigua, this is all part of seeing different aspects of our game that needs working on," St Clair told TTFF Media." He was left fully aware that there is still much revision to be done before the test and the looks on the players as they arrived back at the Jolly Beach Resort Hotel indicated that they too knew that.
St Clair conducted a two and a half hour session on the morning of the game and by the team arrived back at the Hotel shortly after midday, there was only time for lunch, a short rest and a half hour drive to the Ground for the 4pm kick off.
The starting team included new faces from the one which defeated St Vincent and the Grenadines last Sunday. Conrad Smith started up front alongside Nigel Pierre, while Michael Celestine played in the middle with Avery John on the left, Cyd Gray on the right, Derek Phillips in centre half back, Jan Michael Williams in goal and Angus Eve back among the starters wearing the captain’s armband. Anthony Rougier took on the sweeper role with Anton Pierre being the second centre back.
T&T had the first chance on goal on four minutes and Celestine should have put it away. He met a centre from Gray and with just the goalkeeper Cori Carr to beat, he sent a weak shot straight at the ‘keeper.
Three minutes later, T&T’s defenders doubted Veeron Harru’s kicking ability and with no wall in front of him, he sent a thunderous right-footed free kick from 25 metres out, heading for the left upper corner, only to be denied by a diving Williams.
T&T struggled to maintain a momentum after the early attacks and didn’t have another look at goal until the 41st minute when Pierre’s close range effort bounced off the post.
Gray also had a chance to square to a free Celestine inside the box, but he chose to shoot after breaking free on the right and saw his shot go wide of the far post.
St Clair made five changes at the start of the second half, with Gary Glasgow, Kerwyn Jemmott, Marlon Rojas, Atiba Charles and Derek King going on. Phillips, John, Celestine, Rougier and Smith were asked to take the bench.
Two minutes into the half, Rojas broke the offside trap and went free down the left before crossing low for Glasgow who somehow managed to send his shot wide of the mark from the penalty spot. A minute later, Antigua made the "Warriors" pay for their misses. Peter Byer ran on to through ball just inside the box and with the defenders caught flatfooted, he volleyed past an advancing Williams. The ARG erupted as if Curtly Ambrose had just knocked over the stumps of an Australian opener. The legendary pacer instead was off his seat as he and fellow West Indies greats Sir Vivian Richards and Richie Richardson took in the action from the stands.
T&T hit back in the 55th minute when Eve swung one over from the left and Pierre headed home on the near post. But it didn’t take long for the ARG to erupt again as four minutes later, Rowan Issaac, who had come on two minutes earlier, rushed in to nail the rebound after Williams stopped the first close range shot.
That goal seemed to have hit off the panic button for T&T and they went into another gear searching for the equalizer. But some doubtful calls ruined T&T’s desperate attempt to get back in the game. On 63 minutes , Eve’s Corner allowed Glasgow to head into the goal but the referee blew for a foul on goalkeeper Javed Joseph who had been toppled over by a teammate. Rougier reentered the match, replacing Eve, as it had been agreed before kick off that there would be unlimited substitutions and players would be allowed to come back into the match as it was not a full international.
Ten minutes before the end, Glasgow played a ball into space on the left for late substitute Cornell Glen on the left and rather than go clear to goal, he was called for offside even as two defenders appeared to be behind him near the top centre of the box. Then in injury time, Rougier powered one goalwards and with the ‘keeper stranded, the hand of another Antiguan denied the "Soca Warriors" a late escape. The loss ended the Soca Warriors’ 17-game unbeaten streak against Caribbean teams, with their last defeat coming on 31 July 2003 against Haiti (2:0) in Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis.

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