A disastrous opening five minutes by Police FC defender Karlon Murray, coupled with some super counter attacking play and shot-stopping, powered DIRECTV W Connection to a hard fought 4-2 Pro League victory over the “Lawmen” at the Larry Gomes Stadium this evening.
Newly appointed “Women Soca Warriors” coach Richard Hood summed up the January period as “Christmas blight” for his Police team, as their poor start to 2016 continued with poor judgment, early on, by his centre back, Murray.
“That’s generous to say that we conceded two soft goals,” Hood told Wired868, “because we basically scored two goals on ourselves.”
Police really did shoot themselves in the foot in the second minute as Murray diverted an awkward cross from the right flank by the lively Aikim Andrews into his own goal, following a swift throw in by Shahdon Winchester.
Just three minutes later, Winchester robbed the lackadaisical Murray in the final third before shimmying away from Police goalkeeper Keinol Paul to slot into an empty net and double Connection’s advantage.
Paul was deputising from regular Police custodian and Trinidad and Tobago international squad player, Adrian Foncette, who, like teammate Micah Lewis, is on trial in Turkey.
“I wish I knew what caused the goals,” said Hood. “It was very much a surprise to me.
“The first one, (Karlon Murray) was beaten by the flight of the ball. But you don’t expect him to be dallying on the ball in defence and giving up possession like that.”
The Police defenders looked vulnerable to the Connection counter in the early going and attacker Jomal Williams nearly extended the lead further in the 13th minute, as he sprung the high offside trap much to the amusement of Hood and his staff.
Time seemed to stand still as everyone—including Williams—waited for the linesman to raise his flag, which allowed Paul to close down the attacker’s angle and make a vital save.
Paul’s brave save looked even more important as the Pro League leading scorer, Makesi Lewis, took his league tally to 12 goals with a tap in from close range in the 27th minute, after Connection keeper Julani Archibald palmed a low Kevin Lewis shot into his path.
The goalmouth action nearly made way for a scuffle in the Police half, just two minutes later, as a few Connection players took exception to a rugged tackle by Murray on Williams. But referee Crystal Sobers opted to defuse the potential melee with a quick chat rather than cards to the angry players.
Lewis (K) was in no mood to fight with his fists, as he forced another sharp save from Archibald with a rasping right-footed drive at the near post in the 31st minute. This time, Archibald pushed the ball safely away for a corner.
“We talked about minimising mistakes at the back, especially against an opponent like Connection with strong runners,” said Hood. “The plan would have been to make sure that we defended solidly. And ensure that Neil Benjamin Jr in particular didn’t get behind our backs.”
After 35 minutes, Police still could not curtail the threat of Benjamin Jr though. And the speed demon capitalised on out-of-position left-back Dexter Alleyne to shoot into the roof of the net after another lightning counter attack.
Thankfully for the Lawmen, Benjamin Jr made his way off the field due to an injury he suffered five minutes before the end of the first half.
Police attacker Christon Thomas and Connection’s Kurt Frederick exchanged misses at the start of the second half before Alleyne redeemed himself with a bundled item off a set piece in the 58th minute. Archibald, displeased at the treatment he received immediately before the goal, responded by shoving the scorer and was swiftly shown a yellow card.
Hood’s officers were doing a much better job of locking down the “Savonetta Boys” by then and utility player Elijah Belgrave skimmed the upright with a ferocious 33-yard drive in the 68th minute, which left many Police supporters “oohing.”
The “oohs” turned to “aarghs” in the 77th minute, as Archibald dramatically stopped a point blank effort by substitute Keon Wilson after the lanky striker diverted a precise Kareem Freitas cross to goal.
Williams finally put the Lawmen to rest in the 81st minute as he finished neatly into the top corner after his namesake Gerard Williams found him expertly on the left wing in yet another counter attack.
There was still some time left for Archibald to pull off another jaw-dropping save as the Kittian goalie stopped a point blank header from Police substitute Anton Hutchinson, two minutes before the end of regulation time.
Hood, who departs for Costa Rica on January 25th with the Women Warriors, is still eager to see progress with his Police team.
“In the interim, I’m continuing in the job and will be trying to work with them as much as possible,” said Hood. “In my absence Brian Kennedy and Andy Roberts, along with skipper Todd Ryan, will be the men running the show.”
“I commended the guys fully for the fight they showed today and I expect them to bounce back from this. We will be taking it out on Caledonia on Tuesday.”
For now at least, Hood and Police have to be content with a fifth place spot, after Connection leapfrogged them with the battling victory today.
Police FC (4-4-1-1): 22.Keinol Paul (GK); 6.Jibri McDavid (7.Clevon McFee 55), 4.Karlon Murray, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 17.Dexter Alleyne; 12.Kevin Lewis (16.Keon Wilson 74), 21.Todd Ryan (captain) (5.Anton Hutchinson 65), 14.Kaaron Foster, 10.Kareem Freitas; 19.Christon Thomas; 9.Makesi Lewis.
Unused Substitutes: 3.Kadeem Boyce, 8.Kurdell Brathwaite, 13.Ricardo Peltier, 18.Dylon King.
Coach: Richard Hood
DIRECTV W Connection (4-2-3-1): 18.Julani Archibald (GK); 17.Aikim Andrews, 3.Gerard Williams, 4.Maurice Ford, 2.Kurt Frederick; 16.Alvin Jones (captain), 23.Kareem Goddard; 11.Neil Benjamin Jr (20.Jamal Charles 40), 34.Jabari Mitchell (14.Andre Toussaint 46), 10.Jomal Williams; 9.Shahdon Winchester (21.Shannon Gomez 90+1).
Unused Substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 12.Dimitrie Apai, 32.Isaiah Hudson, 35.Keston Julien.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Referee: Crystal Sobers
Man of the Match: Julani Archibald (DIRECTV W Connection)
TT Pro League Result
(Saturday 16 January 2016)
Police FC 2 (Makesi Lewis 27, Dexter Alleyne 58), DIRECTV W Connection 4 (Karlon Murray OG 2, Shahdon Winchester 5, Neil Benjamin Jr 35, Jomal Williams 81), Larry Gomes Stadium;
(Tuesday January 19)
North East Stars v St Ann’s Rangers, 3.30 pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
Central FC v Club Sando, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
W Connection v Point Fortin Civic, 8 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Police FC v Morvant Caledonia Utd, 6 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh v Defence Force, 8 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium.