Friday 12th May, 2006

 

Jones goal earns T&T a 1-1 draw

 
 
 
 
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By Jovan Ravello

Kenwyne Jones’ 76th minute free-kick strike salvaged a 1-1 draw for the national football team in its farewell match as the Soca Warriors’ stretched its unbeaten streak to six matches before leaving to camp in Europe ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

There was a buzz all around the capital as the hours ticked away to the start of the game with some fans even making it to the stadium several hours before kick off.

When the team was announced, cheers filled the air with an extra loud crescendo for the man of the moment “The Little Magician” Russell Latapy, who was appearing in his last match on home soil as a T&T international.

The first half produced a calm display from the T&T team who appeared generally more relaxed than during the 2006 World Cup campaign.

Latapy could have give the team a dream start within seconds of the kick off when he followed a return from Stern John on top of the box but his low shot was just wide.

The teams, spurred by the electric atmosphere, launched attacks from the middle of the park with the pace of the Peru forwards causing the T&T defence the world of worry.

Latapy was greeted by cheers every time he touched the ball and much more so in the 10th minute when he swivelled between two defenders only to be hacked down to the right of the Peru area.

He dusted himself off to take the resulting free-kick and drilled it around the wall only to see the Peru ‘keeper Leao Butron make a sprawling save.

The opening goal came in the 32nd minute when Wilmer Aguirre was fed a speculative ball down the left where he proceeded to outfox Brent Sancho with a cheeky flick which was covered by captain Dwight Yorke.

There was a moment of miscommunication between Yorke and Sancho and they crashed into each other leaving Jack stranded off his line and Aguirre with the simple task of directing his shot goal-ward where Gustavo Vasallo waited to apply the finish.

Latapy exited the field three minutes before half-time and took a lap of honour, much to the delight of the fans.

The “Little Magician” received a standing ovation from the appreciative local crowd, some too young to know him in his heyday but all aware of his contribution the sport.

In the second-half T&T reverted to a more disciplined 4-4-2 formation from the 3-4-1-2 which they played in the first half to allow Latapy and Edwards more room in attack.

And it almost paid dividends in the 49th minute when skipper Dwight Yorke saw his header clip the upright following a left sided Avery John free-kick.

T&T continued to press for the equaliser and in the 64th minute second-half substitute Silvio Spann’s cross did not get the touch that it needed at the last post.

Samuel again caused the Peru defence some worry when, in the 66th minute, he won the ball on the left side and breezed past two defenders but his shot from a tight angle was muffled by Butron.

At this point Peru’s incisive attacking runs and passes put caution in T&T’s play as the local fans waited with bated breath for the equaliser.

In the 76th minute Jason Scotland one of Beenhakker’s seven second-half changes was fouled on the top of the Peru area and Jones, Whitley and Spann all lined up to take the shot but it was Jones who polished off the chance celebrating acrobatically while the Peruvians picked the ball out of the of the net.

When he came on in the second-half Jones was announced as the future of T&T football and his strike would have done this title justice as it appears that the “Beautiful Game” is in safe hands.

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