There has been suspicion in some quarters at the rate in which national institutions are being created in south and central Trinidad or moved out of the capital of Port of Spain. But it seems safe to assume that the DIRECTV W Connection football club will be happy to forego trips up north after a crushing 5-1 loss to Defence Force last night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Connection has now lost three of its four trips to Port of Spain this season as opposed to just one defeat in domestic competition outside of the capital.
And, last night, the “Savonetta Boys” took their newly acquired Hasely Crawford-phobia to a new low after suffering the heaviest defeat in their Pro League history. It was Connection’s worse loss since they fell 6-2 to San Juan Jabloteh in the inaugural Professional Football League (PFL) season in 1999, which pre-dated the birth of the Pro League by three years.
“For some reason, we can’t seem to get it right in Port of Spain this year,” Connection owner David John Williams told Wired868.com. “It is our worse defeat in 13 years. But I put a lot of it down to physical and mental fatigue.
“I think our players are starting to feel the effect of over 12 months with no rest.”
Connection’s participation in the 2012 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and CONCACAF Champions League tournaments meant that their players were only afforded 10-days rest for the off-season.
Talented 21-year-old utility player Joevin Jones endured more than most after a hectic 23 month period that included a barrage of national assignments at under-20, under-23 and senior levels.
But, if Savonetta Boys are suffering from weary limbs and a distaste from Port of Spain, Defence Force can at least be credited for its clinical exploitation of their homesickness.
The army/coast guard combination has now put eight goals past the defending Digicel Pro League champion team while conceding one from the last two meetings between the pair.
Defence Force coach Ross Russell refused to gloat though and offered only sympathy and respect for the most successful local club of the professional era.
“I am comfortable with the performance of my team,” said Russell. “The guys went out and did their job… I think Connection looked a little tired and jaded from a long season.”
Connection responded to Friday’s loss by giving its squad six days’ vacation while Williams pointed out that it was only the club’s first league defeat this season.
“We are concerned but it is not the end of the world,” said Williams.
On 21 December 2012, the world discovered that the Mayan people were not as good at predicting the future as they thought. But is Connection leaning too heavily on past memories in assessing its current squad?
If you take away Connection’s biggest League win and heaviest defeat, the club has just one win and three defeats from four outings with an unremarkable four goals scored to go with three conceded.
A 1-0 North East Stars win against T&TEC FC tonight saw Connection fall to fourth spot from eight participating Pro League teams and the table does not lie.
The first half on Friday seemed to give little indication as to the result that lay ahead. Or did it?
Lanky and athletic Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus started at right back for Connection, the spot he held for much of the 2012 Caribbean Cup series, as he continues to haggle with Vietnamese club, Song Lam Nghe, which offered him a contract.
A source informed Wired868 that Vietnam teams are only allowed three foreign signings each and Song Lam Nghe, which is also chasing “Soca Warriors” Hughtun Hector and Willis Plaza, is unhappy at the prospect of losing all three for close to a month during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Perhaps Cyrus’ mind was miles away from the Hasely Crawford. It certainly did not appear to be focused on his positioning.
The first half ended goalless but Defence Force managed its two best chances in his territorial space.
In the ninth minute, Devorn Jorsling was inexplicably allowed to take a deep cross behind Cyrus’ back and it took a good save from Aquelius Sylvester to deny him while Kevon Carter cut inside from Connection’s right flank and again had too much time to shoot before Sylvester, who was deputising for injured team captain Jan-Michael Willians, again intervened.
Just seconds after the restart, Connection took the lead in bizarre circumstances as a clearance from Defence Force stopper Rodell Elcok was charged down by Shahdon Winchester and flew into the back of the net.
But, a minute later, Connection’s night took an emphatic turn for the worse as Cyrus inadvertently turned a Jerwyn Balthazar cross into his own goal and, within the space of eight chaotic minutes, Defence Force stormed into a 3-1 lead.
Both goals, scored by Aklie Edwards and Jorsling, came from successful raids down Connection’s right flank. Edwards slid home the first following an in-swinging Cory Rivers corner kick while Jorsling banged in a Carter cross.
Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who was forced to replace injured defender Joel Russell with Elijah Joseph in the first half, sent on Christian Viveros and Hashim Arcia for Cyrus and Andrei Pacheco respectively. But, by then, the stable hands had already lost sight of their figurative horse.
Jorsling got another goal in the 67th minute as Connection dozed off on a Rivers free kick while substitute Josimar Belgrave completed the score summary in the 81st minute with a precise finish on the break.
Belgrave, a versatile attacker with an uncanny knack for sniffing out chances in the opposition box, is the Pro League’s joint leading scorer with six goals while his tally of 11 items in all domestic competitions is also the top mark at present. St Ann’s Rangers utility player Devon Modeste, who scored twice in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Police, ties him in both scoring charts
“Connection is a good side so, when we play them, we work hard to ensure we don’t concede early goals,” said Russell. “Most times, we concede early goals against them and struggle to get back in the game. But I know I have an explosive attack that can take care of itself.
“I just have to concentrate on containing whoever we play against and our offense speaks for itself.”
On Friday, the Defence Force offense was screaming and Connection could not handle the noise.
Williams vowed that the Savonetta Boys are far from finished this season. There may be trepidation when Pro League fixtures book the proud club for a next trip to Port of Spain, though.
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 1.Kevin Graham; 14.Cory Rivers (Captain), 5.Devin Jordan, 20.Rodell Elcock, 21.Aklie Edwards; 3.Keston Williams (18.Sean Narcis 84), 8.Curtis Gonzales; 29.Jemel Sebro (16.Kerry Joseph 83), 15.Jerwyn Balthazar (12.Josimar Belgrave 50),11.Kevon Carter; 10.Devorn Jorsling.
Unused substitutes: 25.Sheldon Clarke, 4.Marvin Jones, 17.Ross Russell Jr, 22.Ronald St Louis.
Coach: Ross Russell
W Connection (4-3-3): 22.Aquelius Sylvester; 4.Daneil Cyrus (25.Christian Viveros 61), 19.Joel Russell (5.Elijah Joseph 24), 3.Akeem Benjamin, 6.Kemuel Rivers; 29.Jomal Williams, 8.Clyde Leon (Captain), 17.Andrei Pacheco (14.Hashim Arcia 62); 31.Jerrel Britto, 40.Shahdon Winchester, 36.Joevin Jones.
Unused substitutes: 1.Murilo Da Costa, 16.Andre Quashie, 20.Silvio Spann, 65.Neil Benjamin.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Digicel Pro League Round-up
(Fri Dec 21)
Caledonia AIA 5 (Kareem Joseph 6, Radanfah Abu Bakr 12, Cornelius Stewart 26, Ataullah Guerra 37, Nuru Muhammad 82), Central FC 2 (Rundell Winchester 57, Tyrone Charles 89) at Hasely Crawford
Defence Force 5 (Daneil Cyrus OG 49, Aklie Edwards 54, Devorn Jorsling 57, 67, Josimar Belgrave 81), W Connection 1 (Shahdon Winchester 46) at Hasely Crawford
(Sat Dec 22)
Police 2 (Errol Charles 27, Anton Hutchinson 65), St Ann’s Rangers 2 (Devon Modeste 21, 90)
North East Stars 1 (Elijah Manners 83), T&TEC 0 at Mannie Ramjohn[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]