Step in the right drection

Step in the right drection

But a lot more work to be done, says Whitmore

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, August 26, 2017

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Lacking the core of players who marched to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup before going down 1-2 to the hosts United States earlier this summer, Jamaica's Head Coach Theodore Whitmore had to rely on a host of untried hands against Trinidad and Tobago.

And he was left mostly pleased after his young team battled to a 2-1 victory over their staunch Caribbean rivals, in a friendly international match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Thursday.

However, Whitmore noted areas of concern that he expects to improve as the squad develops greater fitness, chemistry, and understanding, and as players become more technically and tactically adept.

“Overall, it's a step in the right direction,” he told the Jamaica Observer after the game.

“But I have mixed reactions because I think physically we weren't up to par with the Trinidad team. You have to take into consideration that our players are still in preseason mode. Another point for me was the familiarisation with each other. But overall, I was pleased with the performance of the debutants and we need more games like this before the year ends.

“I think we held our own, but we have some areas to work on in terms of the communication in defence and the cohesiveness between the defence and [players in] the middle of the park,” the Reggae Boyz coach stressed.

“My concern again was technically... [executing] the fundamentals in terms of time, space ,and the first touch. With the passing there were too many unforced errors and turnovers. We still need to be more efficient in midfield and I think at times we were [guilty of] overthinking the game,” Whitmore continued.

The Boyz coach deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rosario Harriott and Ladale Richie in central defence and the left-sided Ricardo Morris and right wing back Javain Brown on either side of them.

The robust pair of Ewan Grandison and Michael Binns took up deep-lying midfield positions, while Marvin Morgan and Jamiel Hardware were given wide attacking roles.

Fabian Reid roamed just behind centre forward Shamar Nicholson, while Shaven-Sean Paul stood in goal.

Hardware notched a brilliant opener for Jamaica in the sixth minute. But Kevon Villaroel levelled for the Soca Warriors in the 11th minute when out-of-position 'keeper Paul allowed an intended cross to sneak beneath his crossbar.

Reid deflected a 57th-minute free kick from Binns past Trinidad and Tobago custodian Marvin Phillip to again send the visitors into the lead.

Trinidad players appealed for handball, but the match officials waved off those calls.

The officials were vindicated when Dennis Lawrence, the Trinidad and Tobago head coach, conceded to reporters after the game that video review showed the ball came off Reid's shoulder and it was a “fair goal”.

Even under sustained pressure, especially in the first half and late in the second half, the inexperienced Reggae Boyz generally held their shape and made it hard for Trinidad to break them down.

Lawrence was especially disappointed with the space afforded to Hardware as he stroked home the opening goal.

“The first goal we conceded was too soft and too early in the game and was not what we are trying to do,” he said.

“At the end of the day, goals win matches. We were a bit unlucky to not get the second goal because we had the chances. The Jamaican team fought as we expected. Their team is built around being solid and being well organised and they did that tonight. They got the result that I don't think they deserved, but they got the result that they fought for,” Lawrence explained.

Whitmore stopped short of saying Trinidad and Tobago deserved more from the encounter.

“We scored against the run of play with Ricardo Morris crossing to Hardware, and his first touch and finish were superb. I think we sat back a bit and gave up a soft goal, but it's a learning process for the players.

“It was a superb result for us and unfortunately for the Trinidadians [they lost]. They are going into two massive games against Honduras and Panama and I think they would rather get a victory to boost their morale, but this is football,” said the former Reggae Boyz midfield star.

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