Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence expressed some level of satisfaction with the efforts of his players as this country came away with a 1-1 draw against a tricky Martinique outfit in their opening match of CONCACAF Nations League qualifying in Fort-de-France on Friday night.
Canadian-based forward Ryan Telfer made his international debut for T&T as Lawrence gave him his first cap alongside India-based forward Marcus Joseph in the attack. It was Joseph though who found himself with the early opportunities to put T&T ahead but he mis-fired on the evening for the visitors.
A minute into the match, Joseph collected inside the box before turning and firing to goal but goalkeeper Loic Chauvet. Martinique settled into stride midway through the first half and once they did, they pressured T&T creating a couple proper chances to take the lead. Midfielder Stephane Abaul fired inches over bar on 22 minutes.
Telfer rose nicely to head from a right side cross by Leston Paul, forcing Chauvet to push around his left post. But after a goalmouth scramble in the T&T box, it was the homeside which drew first blood. T&T failed to handle a right side corner allowing the ball to fall to Julio Doniso whose close range blast deflected off Joevin Jones and France-born midfielder Cyril Mandouki slotted home in the 41st.
T&T regrouped and came again in the second half. Telfer was out the blocks early after a Martinique left sided corner was cleaned up at the back. T&T skipper Sheldon Bateau made the box to box run as Telfer flew down the right flank and played inside for the Belgium-based defender who was hacked down by defender Ambroise Felicitet. Jones converted the resulting penalty clinically to level the scores at one apiece in minute 63.
Moments later Telfer made another drive into the box, this time on the left and was bundled over again but Panamanian referee Jose Kellys waved play on.
T&T were pressed into their own half for the closing minutes as Martinique tried desperately to steal a late winner. Thierry Catherine effort struck the upright in added on time.
The “Warriors” will now look to secure three points when both teams meet again at the Hasely Crawford Stadium at 9:00pm on Monday. Tickets are available at NLCB outlets nationwide .
“I thought tonight we started the game very well. We had a couple changes early on which could have put us in a better position. We knew we would have to weather the storm a bit and see it out. The boys did absolutely remarkable to get themselves back into the game so I was really really pleased for the boys. Now it’s all about recovery and getting home to make sure we are ready for the for the next game on Monday,” Lawrence said.
“Once you are playing away from home you got to expect the opposition, they got the fans behind them and they will throw everything at you. Martinique started to grow in confidence once we let them off the hook after the first fifteen minutes because I thought we should have scored. They grew in confidence and started to take control of the game and we had to weather the storm. But I’m pleased with the boys and the effort they gave in the end to get something from the game,” Lawrence added.
Trinidad and Tobago 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 2.Aubrey David,.Joevin Jones (11.Levi Garcia, 71), 4.Sheldon Bateau (captain), 5.Daneil Cyrus, 17.Ross Russell Jr (16.Alvin Jones, 71), 19.Kevan George, 23.Leston Paul, 310.Kevin Molino, 7.Ryan Telfer (20.Jomal Williams, 76), 15.Marcus Joseph,
Unused substitutes: 21.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 6.Keston Julien, 12.Carlyle Mitchell, 13.Judah Garcia, 14.Daniel Carr, 18.Nathaniel Garcia, 8.Andre Fortune Jr, 9.Jameel Perry,
Head Coach: Dennis Lawrence
Martinique (4-2-4): 1.Loic Chauvet (GK); 22.Romario Barthelery, 3.Ambroise Felicitet, 21.Sebastien Cretinor (captain), 2.Yordan Thimon; 19.Daniel Herelle, 14.Yann Thimon (17.Montabord Rene-Charles, 78),15.Cyril Mandouki (5.Karl Vitulin, 78); 10.Julio Donisa (6.Thierry Catherine, 84), 12.Johnny Marajo, 20.Stephane Abaul,
Unused substitutes: 16.Amaud Des Etages (GK), 23.Stephane Michalet (GK), 4.Gerald Dondon, 7.Andy Cesar, 8.Jordy Delem, 9.Marvin Bellance, 11.Andy Mamy, 13.Christof Jougon.
Head Coach: Mario Bocaly