Two draws in successive matches for DIRECTV W Connection turned out to be a blip after all. Yesterday evening, the current Pro League leaders returned to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Police FC at the Hasely Crawford Stadium to stretch its lead in the top flight to 9 points.
No such luck for Central FC though as the “Couva Sharks” could only muster a 1-1 draw against Caledonia AIA in the second match of a Hasely Crawford double header.
Central has taken just six points from a possible 18 with three draws and one win from its last six games. Coach Terry Fenwick was not there to lead his troops on this occasion as the former England World Cup player had taken “passionate leave” to tie the knot with his fiancée.
Fenwick apart, there has probably been a bit too much tying by Central these days.
In the Sharks’ last eight games against Pro League opposition in all competitions, Central recorded just one win—against table proppers St Ann’s Rangers—to go with three draws and four losses.
To be fair, though, yesterday’s result would probably go down as one point gained rather than two lost for the Sharks. Central FC custodian and Trinidad and Tobago international stand-out Jan-Michael Williams was in top form as he repeatedly denied Caledonia players, including Aubrey David, Densill Theobald, Akim Armstrong and Tyrone Charles, with a string of impressive reflex saves to salvage the draw.
Before kick-off, Brooklyn-based football enthusiast Earl “Mango” Pierre presented a new pair of boots to veteran Central captain Marvin Oliver for his service to the game.
But it was Central’s former captain, Jason Marcano, who opened the scoring in the 42nd minute with a quick swivel and stab into the far corner after a cross from Johan Peltier.
Things looked to go from bad to worse for Caledonia when goalkeeper Shemel Louison was stretchered off the field in the 44th minute after a collision with Central striker Dwight Quintero. The “Eastern Stallions” did not have a reserve goalie on the bench so Louison, a Grenadian international, limped back on.
Central never looked like testing the handicapped Louison, though.
Instead, Caledonia made regular inroads against an admittedly makeshift Central backline, which, owing to to injuries, had attacking winger Kaydion Gabriel at full back, full back Elton John in central defence and stopper Jamal Jack at left back.
Theobald, who was easily the best outfield player on display, brought Caledonia level from the penalty spot in the 55th minute after Central midfielder and ex-Caledonia star Ataullah Guerra fouled David in the area.
But that was the only way Caledonia could get past Williams as Central, who is still awaiting clearance for new signing and defender Yohance Marshall, held on for a point.
In the opener, Connection again felt compelled to act against a breach of internal club rules as the “Soca Warriors” duo of attacker Joevin Jones and defender Mekeil Williams both allegedly turned up at the match venue in their own vehicles rather than with the team bus. Their two names were struck off the starting team as speedy teenaged attacker Neil Benjamin Jr and veteran Colombian utility player Christian Viveros took their places.
Police attacker Elijah Belgrave gave Connection a further scare with a deflected effort that beat opposing goalkeeper Julani Archibald in the 14th minute. But Benjamin made the most of his opportunity with a fine angled finish to equalise in the 31st minute.
And Gerard Williams wrapped up the three points with a 69th minute penalty after Police fullback Christon Thomas’ silly trip on Connection attacker Jerrel Britto inside the 18-yard box.
The win might have been more emphatic as Shahdon Winchester and Benjamin both struck the bar while a clever dinked effort from Hashim Arcia was cleared off the Police goal line by alert left back Dexter Alleyne.
The “Lawmen” might have played their last Pro League game for January as the Police Service is expected to follow the Defence Force’s lead and temporarily withdraw its teams from all sport and community activities, as part of the country’s knee-jerk reaction to a spike in the murder rate.
Connection, as always, had no sympathy for the issues of its opponent as the “Savonetta Boys” stretched their unbeaten Pro League run to nine games and, in the process, motored 9 points beyond its nearest rival.
W Connection (4-2-1-3): 18.Julani Archibald (GK); 39.Alvin Jones, 25.Christian Viveros, 4.Daneil Cyrus, 2.Kurt Frederick; 3.Gerard Williams (captain), 7.Silvio Spann (11.Tremain Paul 79); 14.Hashim Arcia; 65.Neil Benjamin, 16.Shahdon Winchester (19.Joel Russell 80), 31.Jerrel Britto (40.Jomal Williams 75).
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 13.Devaughn Elliot, 17.Jamal Clarence, 29.Jem Gordon.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Police FC (4-2-1-3): 18.Adrian Foncette (GK); 19.Christon Thomas, 4.Karlon Murray, 2.Jasimar Ashers, 17.Dexter Alleyne; 6.Kenaz Williams, 21.Todd Ryan (captain); 10.Trent Noel (15.Jameel Perry 75); 39.Joel Lewis (36.Clevon McFee 61), 20.Elijah Belgrave (5.Anton Hutchinson 79), 8.Akiba Peters.
Unused substitutes: 31.Theon Browne (GK), 12.Vernell Ramirez, 25. Kemron Purcell, 26.Wendell Joseph.
Coach: Richard Hood
Referee: Gyasi McDonald
Pro League results
(Friday January 10)
W Connection 2 (Neil Benjamin 31, Gerard Williams 69 pen), Police FC 1 (Elijah Belgrave 14) at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Central FC 1 (Jason Marcano 42), Caledonia AIA 1 (Densill Theobald 55 pen) at Hasely Crawford
(Saturday January 11)
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Kerry Baptiste 52), St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Larry Gomes;
Point Fortin Civic 0, North East Stars 0, 3.30 pm, Mahaica Oval.[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]