Jamaica thump neighbours Trinidad and Tobago 4-1 to register first 2023 Gold Cup win

Jamaica National Team. Gold Cup (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Jamaica National Team. Gold Cup (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz blanked neighbours Trinidad and Tobago 4-1 to register their first win in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup. Demarai Gray gifted himself with two goals for his 27th birthday in only his second game for Jamaica. Leon Bailey and childhood club teammate  Dujaun Richards were also on the score sheet, which helped Jamaica secure its first win of the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup. The Top Flight also provided a preview of the match.

Coach Hallgrimsson tweaked his side by pulling out Dexter Lembikisa, Amari’I Bell and Adrian Mariappa and slipped in Kemar Lawrence Gold Cup debutant Javian Brown and Di’Shon Bernard. Hallgrimsson adjusted his formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 and was rewarded as early as the 14th minute when Michail Antonio bulldozed his way to the box and then laid off a pass to Leon Bailey on the edge of the box. Bailey wasted no time to slip through a sublime pass to set up Gray, who found himself in acres of space, took one touch to steady himself, then slotted home for a tidy finish for a 1-0 advantage.

Four minutes later, the video assistant referee (VAR) was brought into play to wave on a decision after Bailey, who was deemed offside, breached the Soca Warriors backline then fired home a sweet left-footed shot past Nicklas Frenderup in goal for Trinidad and Tobago for a 2-0 lead. Trinidad, who won 3-0 in their opening game over debutant St Kitts and Nevis, failed to put together anything for the first 25 minutes. They hardly touched the ball, with Jamaica having the lion’s share of possession at 78% to Trinidad’s 22%. Trinidad got three free kicks in useful positions but failed to make them count.

Jamaica was in no joy ride mood and gave the travelling fans something to cheer for when they made it 3-0 in the 29th minute/. Kevon Lambert, who has been rock solid in midfield with a kind of N’golo Kante’s gamesmanship, forced a turnover and stroked the ball in space for Antonio, who squared so Gray could tap home from close range for his second goal of the night has Jamaica raced into the halftime break up 3-0.

Coach Angus Eve made a few changes to the team that won the first game. Ryan Telfer, Kaile Auvray, and Triston Hodge were left on the bench, while Ajani Fortune, Aubry David and Malcolm Isaiah got the nod in the starting 11. Eve deployed a 5-2-2-1 formation, but it backfired. He, therefore, dishevelled the feathers of the players at the break and made three changes. The Soca Warriors started the second half like a house on fire. They controlled the tempo, led in possession and created chances.

The substitution paid dividend immediately when Levi Garcia weaved his way to the by-line and whipped a teasing low cross to Andre Rampersad, who beat custodian Andre Blake to it and tapped it home to cut the deficit to 3-1 in the 49th minute. The Soca Warriors went very close to making it 3-2 in the 57th minute when Auvray’s slick cross found the head of the goal scorer Rampersad, but his header from the penalty spot narrowly flew over the crossbar and into the starry night sky. The Reggae Boyz slowly got back in the game and should have restored their 3-0 cushion in the 63rd minute.  Substitute Shemar Nicholson sent Michail Antonio on his way with a well-weighted pass, but his left-footed shot from outside the box was easily handled by Frenderup in goal. Shortly thereafter, in the 65th minute, Frenderup was called into action to deny Shamar Nicholson from close range, and the rebound bounced just out of the reach of the onrushing Antonio.

Daniel Johnson and Alvin Jones came close to scoring in the 71st and 76th minute for Jamaica and Trinidad, respectively, as the game winded down to a close. Just before the final whistle was blown, history was written on the clouds as Frenderup was beaten all ends up from a long-range pile driver from teenage sensation Dujuan ‘Whisper’ Richards, took a tricky deflection off one of the shot-stopper’s teammates and went in to restore the three-goal margin at 4-1.

The meeting was the first ever between the Caribbean rivals in the Gold Cup. Jamaica now turns its attention to its final group game against Saint Kitts and Nevis, while Trinidad and Tobago close Group A action against the United States. Jamaica sits second in the group and should advance with a draw, while the USA sits atop the pile on goal difference as they hit St Kitts and Nevis for six in the late game.