Coach satisfied after U-17 Boyz edge T & T 1-0 in friendly
Jamaica Under-17 player Nahshon Bolt-Barrett (left) wins a header ahead of Trinidad and Tobago's Lindell Sween during the friendly match at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Saturday. (Photos: Karl McLarty)

Jamaica Under-17 Head Coach Merron Gordon was satisfied after his team edged their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts 1-0 in the first of two preparation matches ahead of the Concacaf Championship.

Substitute Orane Watson got the 77th-minute winner in Saturday's encounter at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in St Andrew.

The young Reggae Boyz could have won by a wider margin but Nicholas Simmonds missed a first-half penalty kick.

"I'm proud of the boys, it's a first win against [a team from] our age group," Gordon said during a post-match interview.

"If we had scored that penalty, the game would've been a bit easier. I think that's the reason at times they were a bit tentative with the ball."

He added, "I think defensively we were good, but I think in the latter stages of the game after we scored the goal we kind of sat back too far. That wasn't the instruction from us [Jamaica's coaches], but playing in front of your home crowd you want to hold on to the win."

Shawn Cooper, the Trinidad and Tobago head coach, said it was a "pretty decent" effort from his team against the backdrop of it being only the third warm-up game since the group has been together.

The young Soca Warriors began as the more assured of the two teams, piecing together neat passes as they sought gaps in the Jamaicans' defence.

But fuelled by the skill and industry of Jordan Mangatal and Jahmani Bell, the Boyz soon grabbed a foothold in the encounter.

Bell was particularly impressive in the first half, terrorising opposing players as he buzzed down the right side.

He won the young Boyz a penalty when he was hauled down inside the 18-yard box by Jeremiah Niles. Simmonds stepped forward to scruff the resultant penalty kick low past the left upright.

Moments later Bell missed a glorious chance when he craftily cut inside his defender, but with the goal gaping, powered his effort high and wide.

Trinidad and Tobago created a few half openings but failed to bother Jamaica's goalkeeper Taywayne Lynch who was called upon to make a couple of routine saves.

In the second half, the Trinidad team remained a threat with Lindell Sween showing some class with a powerful left footer which drew a smart save from Lynch.

At the other end, Watson, who got on at the start of the second half to replace the luckless Simmonds, immediately brought more enterprise.

He nearly got on the scoresheet when he was open for a header after the impressive Malachi Molina delivered a pin-point cross. But painfully for Jamaica, the T&T custodian Ailan Panton spectacularly pushed the effort onto the upright.

Sween again threatened the Jamaican goal, but just like before, Lynch was equal to the task, tipping the left-footed shot over the bar.

The hard-running Watson got the goal when he latched on to a pass from fellow substitute Adrian Mahoney to slot past Panton.

Trinidad and Tobago pressed desperately for the equaliser but the hosts comfortably held on for the win.

The second friendly match between the teams is scheduled for Tuesday at a venue to be confirmed.

— Sanjay Myers

Jamaica Under-17 footballer Nicholas Simmonds (right) tries to shield the ball from Trinidad and Tobago's Lyshaun Morris during the friendly match at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Saturday.
Sanjay Myers

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