Defending champions DIRECTV W Connection predictably returned to winning ways tonight with a 2-1 win over T&TEC FC in the second game of a Digicel Pro League double header at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
The result pulled Connection to within four points of second placed Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA while simultaneously creating a two point gap from fourth placed North East Stars.
The Stars team was also in action this evening but failed to break down second-from-bottom St Ann’s Rangers as the teams battled to a goalless draw.
Defense came out on top in the evening’s opening fixture as Stars central defender Kareem Moses and Rangers left back Dominic Hutchinson both produced superb stops to preserve a point for their respective teams.
Rangers sharpshooter Devon Modeste ran on to a lofted Cameron Roget diagonal ball in the 17th minute and neatly rounded Stars goalkeeper Cleon John only for a lunging Moses to block his shot for a corner.
And, 17 minutes into the second half, Stars midfielder Keithy Simpson flicked the ball over Rangers custodian Zane Coker and towards goal but was left dumbfounded as Hutchinson, at full pelt, somehow headed the ball over his own bar from almost on the goalline.
The game’s two best chances apart, Stars bossed the game in midfield but failed to make their possession count and Coker twice denied Cornell Glen as Rangers somehow held on for a point.
T&TEC could not match Rangers’ heroics in the second fixture; not that it would have masked the problems that face coach Dexter Cyrus.
Connection and T&TEC are both scheduled to appear in the 2013 CONCACAF Champions League by virtue of finishing first and second respectively in last season’s Pro League competition. But the state of the “Electricity Boys” since last year’s competition has grown from worrying to embarrassing.
Last weekend, Caledonia trounced T&TEC 6-0. Tonight, Cyrus could not even find enough interested employees to fill his substitutes’ bench as only 14 players turned up to represent the State-owned company.
And that’s counting Shiva Boys’ Hindu College student Nathaniel Garcia. The teenaged midfielder was anything but a passenger, though.
Garcia is a genuine prospect. Quick, skillful and composed, the attacking midfielder was T&TEC’s brightest light and even chipped in with the bottom club’s solitary goal. But it was not nearly enough.
At least the Electricity Boys avoided the humiliation of their last meeting when Connection won 7-0 with a double from 21-year-old attacker Shahdon Winchester. Winchester was in Finland today where he scored on his competitive debut for Finland Premiership club, FF Jaro, in a 1-1 Liiga Cup match against VPS.
In Macoya, Stefano Rijssel, Hashim Arcia and Andrei Pacheco, three from Connection’s attacking quartet, filled the void with a goal apiece.
Rijssel surprised T&TEC goalkeeper Darryl Francis with a near post blast in the 24th minute after he dribbled past three opponents. Garcia equalised for the T&TEC with a powerful 12-yard strike in the 42nd minute after the opposing defence failed to clear a cross.
But Arcia restored Connection’s lead, seconds before the interval, with a clipped finish from a Jomal Williams pass, albeit with a deflection off a T&TEC defender. And Pacheco delivered the insurance item in the 78th minute with a clever chipped finish after being teed up by Arcia.
It meant another unhappy night’s work for Cyrus.
Undoubtedly, T&TEC has improved since the former Trinidad and Tobago international striker returned to his role at the helm of the technical staff last November. Whether the Electricity Boys are playing well enough to adequately represent the country at the Caribbean Club Championship is another topic altogether.
And the fact that Cyrus cannot even fill his team sheet for domestic games raises fresh concerns.
If T&TEC’s players could not be bothered to travel to Macoya to test their skills against the League’s defending champions, what guarantee is there that they would be suitably bothered to fly around the Caribbean to represent Pro League?
W Connection (4-2-1-3): 21.Alejandro Figueroa; 3.Akeem Benjamin, 5.Elijah Manners, 4.Daneil Cyrus, 32.Kurt Frederick; 12.Gerrard Williams, 20.Silvio Spann (65.Neil Benjamin 79); 14.Hashim Arcia; 29.Jomal Williams, 17.Andrei Pacheco, 26.Stefano Rijssel.
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester, 6.Kemuel Rivers, 19.Joel Russell, 30.Aaquil Campbell, 39.Alvin Jones, 42.Tremain Paul
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
T&TEC (4-2-3-1): 30.Darryl Francis; 7.Cebastian Bailey (42.Akeem Redhead 81), 6.Larry Bacchus (18.Husani Thomas 60), 4.Angus John, 8.Eustace Darius; 10.Daniel Garcia, 25.Givon John; 37.Shaquille Ferrier, 46.Nathaniel Garcia, 16.Bevon Bass; 9.Sylvester Teesdale.
Unused substitutes: 32.Tevin Archer.
Coach: Dexter Cyrus
Digicel Pro League
North East Stars 0, St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Macoya
W Connection 3 (Stefano Rijssel 24, Hashim Arcia 45, Andrei Pachech 78), T&TEC 1 (Nathaniel Garcia 42) at Macoya[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]