W Connection started its Caribbean Club Championship campaign at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium this evening with a 2-0 win over Victory SC from Haiti.
If that sounded awkward to say—because of the ambitious name of the Haitian club—it was even more difficult to watch at times.
Connection has won the Caribbean tournament four times in the past 10 years but, presumably, coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s men are saving their best for the stiffer challenges that lie ahead.
Or, to be less generous, Connection lacked the ruthlessness and professionalism to dispatch a less gifted team.
The hosts went ahead after just 15 minutes when Hasim Arcia made the most of loose marking to finish confidently into the corner. Shahdon Winchester almost doubled the advantage in the 26th minute with a fierce shot that was fended away at the near post by Victory custodian Ronald Elusma.
Connection was almost playing at walking pace now but, instead of patiently working the ball upfield, the “Savonetta Boys” opted to gamble on early long passes. And, as halftime neared, Victory had seen enough of the ball to gather some momentum.
Diminutive striker Philippe Junior Toussaint was especially relishing the opportunity.
In the 37th minute, Toussaint won Victory’s first corner with a deflected effort that just dribbled past Connection custodian and captain Jan-Michael William’s far post. And, two minutes before the interval, Williams was forced to block a fierce drive from Toussaint.
For all the verve of their approach-work at times, the Haitians did not possess the offensive quality to open a Connection defence marshaled by veteran defender Elijah Joseph and tidy holding midfielder and St Kitts and Nevis international Gerard Williams.
And, in the 77th minute, Connection finally got its insurance item. Arcia again spotted an opening and reacted sharply to tap home an accurate right side cross from Rennie Britto.
It might have been three but for a fine save from Elusma to deny a Winchester volley in the 80th minute.
Connection was probably satisfied with the three points. It is likely to be a trickier on Tuesday when the hosts face the physical Surinamese outfit, Inter Moengotape.
W. Connection: 18.Jan-Michael Williams (Capt); 7.Rennie Britto, 5.Elijah Joseph, 19.Joel Russell (3.Akeem Benjamin 46), 36.Joevin Jones; 12.Gerard Williams; 8.Clyde Leon, 16.Hashim Arcia; 31.Jerrel Britto (25.Christian Viveros 65), 40.Shahdon Winchester, 14.Hashim Arcia (13.Kern Cupid 78).
Unused Subs: 22.Aquelius Slyvester, 29.Jomal Williams, 37.John Peltier, 65.Neil Benjamin.
Victory SC: 1.Ronald Elusma; 2.Fritz St Germaine, 3.Parnel Guerrier (Capt), 13.Waltan Joseph, 6.Jean Francois; 8.Harold Milord, 16.Othneil Rosard (12.Nicodeme Beauge 61); 10.Bony Pierre (15.Leopart Jean 83), 5.Phillipe Junior Toussaint, 9.Gaspard Jean Baptiste (14.Ricardo Charles 64), 11.Andersuntcha Beauvais.
Unused Subs: 22.Peterson Espera; 4.Samuel Jacques, 7.Georges Chery.