Shahdon Winchester struck twice this evening as Pro League leader DIRECTV W Connection returned to winning ways with a 2-0 win over bottom placed St Ann’s Rangers at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The result restored Connection’s eight point lead over second placed Point Fortin Civic with eight games remaining in the 2013/14 season.
Tomorrow, Central FC could pull level with Civic—albeit having played a game more—when the “Couva Sharks” face Defence Force from 3 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar. For the Defence Force, which will make its first outing since the death of 30-year-old winger Kevon Carter, it is now or never if the army/ coast guard unit has any hope of retaining the Pro League title.
It must be a very different matter trying to motivate the young Rangers squad.
Both teams went into today’s match attempting to play their way out of a slump. Connection had failed to win any of its last three matches with a loss to Point Fortin followed by draws against Central and Caledonia AIA.
Rangers coach Gilbert Bateau would probably give an arm for that kind of bad run.
The St Ann’s-based club has won one league match whole season and that was 20 weeks ago against Defence Force on 25 October 2013. Naturally, Rangers then lost all its respective scorers from that triumph, Clevon McFee and Keron Cummungs, to Police and North East Stars respectively.
And Bateau could do with some marksmen too. It has been 11 weeks and 15 hours of football since Rangers last managed a goal, which came in a 3-2 loss to Central on 21 December 2013. And, yes, Rangers’ opening scorer from that match, Duran Dilworth, has also swapped employers and now lines up with San Juan Jabloteh.
Whatever Rangers chairman Richard Fakoory had in mind during the January transfer window, it surely was not strengthening his team. In Rangers’ ten outings since the transfer window swung up, the club has conceded 21 times without reply.
It took Connection 19 minutes to go ahead today as Rangers goalkeeper Akel Clarke cleared the ball straight at opposing midfielder Hashim Arcia and the versatile Connection player released Winchester for a simple finish.
Winchester got his second in the 57th minute although he needed two attempts to beat Clarke following a Joevin Jones through pass.
Apart from his role in Connection’s opener, Clarke, who is Rangers’ oldest player at just 25, was immense. In the 62 minute, the goalkeeper flew to his right to keep out a 12-yard Jones volley and then regained to his feet to save twice from the hungry Winchester.
There were two more superb Clarke saves to deny Winchester his hattrick while Connection substitute Dimitrie Apai was also thwarted by consecutive reflex blocks.
Seventeen year old Rangers defender Isaiah McIntyre chipped in too with two acrobatic goalline clearances while there was a perceptive lunging challenge from captain Jelani Peters, midway through the first half, to again deny Winchester.
At the other end, 18-year-old Rangers striker Kyle La Borde acquitted himself well while Keron Cornwall and Keron Alexander both also went close to an elusive goal.
But, at the final whistle, the score summary was testament to another impotent, spirit sapping outing for Rangers.
At present, Rangers’ 11 goals is the third lowest return for any club in Pro League history and South End, who scored 10 times in 2010/11, only played in an 18-game season. Gilbert’s troop has already played 19 times this term.
In truth, Rangers did not look that bad. But figures do not lie. It is time for the young men to show what they are capable of.
W Connection (3-4-3): 18.Julani Archibald (GK); 19.Leslie Russell, 3.Gerard Williams, 4.Daneil Cyrus, 39.Alvin Jones, 14.Hashim Arcia (7.Silvio Spann 68), 40.Jomal Williams, 10.Joevin Jones, 65.Neil Benjamin (2.Kurt Frederick 46), 16.Shahdon Winchester, 12.Jerrel Britto (32.Dimitrie Apai 59).
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 13.Devaughn Elliot, 17.Jamal Clarence, 25.Christian Viveros.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
St Ann’s Rangers (4-4-2): 1.Akel Clarke (GK); 43.Shomarie Antoine, 33.Isaiah McIntyre, 41.Kevin Carter, 4.Jelani Peters (captain); 51.Keron Cornwall (26.Josh Toussaint 65), 10.Kennedy Isles, 44.Sedale McLean, 16.Keron Alexander; 50.Kyle La Borde, 14.Michael Yaw Darko (21.Jair Edwards 85).
Unused substitutes: 22.Christopher Biggette (GK), 5.Keon Peters, 31.Jameel Antoine, 39.Shaquille Moses, 49.Chad Clinton.
Coach: Gilbert Bateau
Pro League result
W Connection 2 (Shahdon Winchester 19, 57), St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Couva
|1||•||Defence Force FC||15||9||5||1||40||32||32|
|5||↓||San Juan Jabloteh||16||7||2||7||27||0||23|
|6||↓||North East Stars||15||6||4||5||19||-11||22|
|9||•||Point Fortin Civic||15||3||3||9||14||-21||12|
|10||•||St Ann's Rangers||15||2||3||10||13||-21||9|