Club Sando registered the first Super League triumph of the 2013 Toyota Classic competition last night with an emphatic 3-1 win over Police FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Nippy Sando striker Teba McKnight scored in each half while former Trinidad and Tobago and San Juan Jabloteh full back Nigel “Ganja” Daniel also got on the score sheet. Police captain Todd Ryan had initially given “the Lawmen” the lead from the penalty spot.
It was the only upset of the first night of matches as Defence Force and DIRECTV W Connection easily dispatched Super League teams 1976 Phoenix (3-0) and Real Maracas (2-0) respectively while Caledonia AIA continued its mini-resurgence with a 3-0 triumph over St Ann’s Rangers.
Defence Force, the defending Pro League champions, has had a miserable start to the season and, at present, is just three points off the foot of the League table. But coach Ross Russell’s troop had too much firepower for Tobago outfit, Phoenix, at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
Winger Jemel Sebro and forward Richard Roy both scored their first goals of the 2013/14 season and Roy got a double for good measure as Defence Force advanced to the quarterfinal round.
Caledonia’s match-up with Rangers is the only meeting between Pro League teams in the Classic competition’s first round. But it was a straightforward affair in Macoya as a goal each from Noel Williams, Marcus Ambrose and Kithson Bain eased the “Eastern Stallions” into the next round.
In Couva, Connection was never troubled against Maracas although the “Savonetta Boys” did not make things easy for themselves.
Somehow, midfielder Silvio Spann contrived to get sent off in a game controlled by Connection as referee Neal Brizan showed him a second yellow card after an ill-advised tumble in the opposing penalty box.
But Hashim Arcia ensured there would be no upset with a close range header after a Jerrel Britto cross in the 22nd minute while Colombian Yhon Reyes made it 2-0 with a neat lobbed finish in the 51st minute.
No such luck for Police in the closing game at Couva, though.
Police captain and “Mister Dependable” Todd Ryan opened the scoring in the 24th minute. But that was good as it got for the Lawmen as Sando recovered to swagger into the next stage of the competition.
Sando, led be the duo of ex-Police technical director Muhammad Isa and former St Ann’s Rangers coach Anthony Streete, has made little secret of its ambition to become a Pro League team.
And, yesterday, Club Sando walked into Pro League territory, shifted furniture around to suit itself and put its feet up.
Police custodian Adrian Foncette did well to keep out a free kick from Sando left back and former Connection employee, Kemuel Rivers, in the 37th minute. But, from the resulting corner kick, Rivers picked out team captain Teba McKnight, another former Connection player, whose powerful header crossed the line despite a valiant effort from opposing defender Christon Thomas.
Sando celebrated with a synchronised dance move at the sideline. And boy was it a McKnight for dancing.
Three minutes into the second half, San Fernando fans were dancing again as McKnight ran on to a through pass and forced a low shot under Foncette’s body and into the back of the net.
By the hour mark, Sando should have been three goals clear as Ryan Frederick failed to take either of two decent chances and the Lawmen imploded in fury at the impertinent lower league outfit that was making a mockery of all attempts to arrest its progress.
Thomas resorted to Police brutality with a lunge over the ball and into Rivers that referee Larry Lalchan punished with a straight red card in the 66th minute.
Five minutes later, Police left back Dexter Alleyne joined Thomas in the dressing room as he tired of being given the slip by Sando winger Devon Modeste, a former Rangers stalwart, and clattered into him for his second yellow card.
But Sando had no intention of curbing its provocation of the outnumbered Police outfit. By then, Streete had brought a certain Nigel “Ganja” Daniel on to the field.
And, in the 76th minute, “Ganja” was alight as a right side McKnight cross landed at the feet of the versatile former Pro League champion and Daniel’s shot deflected under the boot of Police defender Brendon Christopher for Sando’s third.
Police managed a less illustrious hattrick as Anton Hutchinson got the Pro League team’s third red card with a lunge at Modeste in stoppage time.
It did not damper Sando’s celebration and one supporter enthusiastically waved a flag that read: “We not stopping.”
There was certainly no stopping McKnight on the night.
Club Sando: 1.Andre Marchan (GK); 13.Kern Cupid, 20.Dwayne Charles, 22.Coneal Thomas, 6.Kemuel Rivers; 4.Anthony Parris, 9.Jesse Downing (12.Nigel Daniel 64), 19.Ryan Fredericks (18.Andre Phillip 87); 24.Devon Modeste, 11.Teba McKnight (captain) (10.Andy London 80), 8.Kerron Smith.
Unused substitutes: 33.Alexei Julien (GK), 3.Kirwyn Jackson, 14.Randy Britto, 26.Ryan Dipsingh.
Coach: Anthony Streete
Police FC: 18.Adrian Foncette (GK); 19.Christon Thomas [Red Card], 5.Anton Hutchinson [Red Card], 25.Kemron Purcell, 17.Dexter Alleyne [Red Card]; 6.Kenaz Williams (11.Kareem Perry 74), 21.Todd Ryan (captain), 39.Joel Lewis (7.Brendon Christopher 74), 10.Trent Noel, 8.Akiba Peters, 20.Elijah Belgrave.
Unused substitutes: 31.Theon Browne (GK), 1.Errol Charles, 27.Dwayne Salazar, 28.Aaron Stewart, 40.Jabari Williams.
Coach: Richard Hood
Toyota Classic results
(Fri Nov 8)
W Connection 2 (Hashim Arcia 23, Yhon Reyes 51), Real Maracas 0 at Couva
Club Sando 3 (Teba McKnight 38, 58, Nigel Daniel 76), Police 1 (Todd Ryan 24 pen) at Couva
Defence Force 3 (Jemel Sebro 29, Richard Roy 54, 64), 1976 Phoenix 0 at Macoya
Caledonia AIA 3 (Noel Williams 4, Marcus Ambrose 72, Kithson Bain 79), St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Macoya