At this rate, Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh might want to consider renaming their team: San Juan Express. Jabloteh certainly seem to be in a hurry of late. Yesterday was their fifth Pro League win in a row, as Jabloteh held off Defence Force 2-1 at the Barataria Recreation Ground in Barataria.
Jabloteh, who are fourth, trail third place Defence Force by just a solitary point now while they are two shy of second place DIRECTV W Connection. The Pro League’s top two clubs at the end of the season will advance to next year’s 2017/18 CONCACAF Champions League qualifying series.
Defending champions Bankers Insurance Central FC are first and eight points clear of the “San Juan Kings.” But then few teams can compare themselves to Central with a straight face these days.
While Jabloteh’s form is impressive, Central’s is something else. Current coach Dale Saunders has not lost a match since he took over in mid-December—which is a run that stretches for 13 matches—while they have won their last seven straight league outings.
“It will be like Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston,” Jabloteh midfielder and former Central captain Marvin Oliver told Wired868, with a laugh. “Central are like Sonny Liston, the champion, and we are young Ali… We just want to hit him in his mouth.”
The analogy was given with a laugh rather than a snarl. Oliver’s exit from the “Couva Sharks” in January was acrimonious and culminated in a legal battle, which the 41 year old playmaker won—albeit with an, arguably, watered down verdict from the Pro League’s Player Status Committee.
But even Oliver can smile now when he thinks about Central. They are all smiling in Jabloteh at the moment.
Yesterday was Jabloteh’s second match at their adopted home in Barataria and, although there was no stands around the ground and limited parking, the attendance was doubled to over 400 patrons.
There was a sound system to provide information on goal scorers and substitutions as well as an electronic clock and rotating advertising board.
Jabloteh have certainly made themselves at home.
“The atmosphere was tremendous,” said Oliver. “There were a lot of faces I haven’t seen in a long while. Not just from Barataria but from all around the country.
“I saw my old manager ‘Mango’ Pierre and my good friend George Romano and the Abasali brothers and so on…”
At the various national stadia, there is a feeling of joint ownership by the clubs and home advantage is merely theoretical. But not in Barataria.
There isn’t the partisan support that Point Fortin Civic enjoy when fans actually turn out at Mahaica Oval or when North East Stars played at Ojoe Road. But there is just enough voltage in the air and uncertainty on the ground to challenge visitors.
Supporters are close enough to participate in the action and players can have everything from technique to passing options questioned emphatically while the dry, uneven surface tests concentration.
“The condition wasn’t a big problem for us because we train on a similar ground,” Defence Force striker and Pro League’s all-time leading scorer Devorn Jorsling told Wired868. “I liked the atmosphere. I welcome it. (But) it is the first time in a while that that I got jitters. And I was on the bench!
“There were guys there who I hadn’t seen since I was playing in the (schools) league. And they told me they hoped to see me have a good game…”
Like Civic the previous week, the Army/Coast Guard combination found themselves under the gun from the opening whistle. Once more, speedy winger Nathan Lewis was Jabloteh’s most lethal weapon.
In the 23rd minute, Lewis opened the scoring with a route one item after a Defence Force corner kick, as he raced on to a ball over the top and slammed past opposing custodian Sheldon Clarke.
And, midway through the second half, the former Caledonia AIA winger struck again on the break after a threaded pass by Jabloteh’s Jamaican maestro Fabian “Parker” Reid.
“What was disappointing is we prepared whole week to try to contain the pace of Nathan,” said Jorsling. “Because the coach watched them play Civic and told us he was the main threat.
“So to concede the first goal straight from our corner like that, when we could have stopped him with a professional foul, was very disappointing.”
Lewis has scored all three Jabloteh goals in Barataria so far. But, in truth, the San Juan outfit’s strength is at the back.
Adrian Reid, one of three Jamaicans in their starting team, is such a reassuring figure that once error prone central defender Aquil Selby now looks almost magisterial in his company.
And their back four is protected by the perceptive and experience pair of captain Damian Williams—the third Jamaican—and Oliver.
In the last 270 minutes, Jabloteh conceded just once from open play. And Defence Force’s late consolation item yesterday came via a cool penalty from Richard Roy.
It was needless in the extreme as Jabloteh left back Akeem “Battery” Benjamin screened the ball out of play only for referee Gyasi McDonald to award a corner rather than a spot kick. And Selby, inexplicably, proceeded to barge over opposing defender Rodell Elcock during the resulting set piece.
There were some late testing set pieces from Jorsling but enough to threaten the result.
Defence Force, who led the league last Christmas, are starting to fade away. Jorsling blamed his own form and the inconsistency of the team’s talented young brigade for their slump.
“After picking up (a thigh strain) in January, my form hasn’t been what it used to be and the team tends to look to me for my leadership,” said Jorsling. “Secondly, there are a lot of young players in our squad and young players tend to be inconsistent… The team is in a transition stage.”
At Jabloteh, coach Keith Jeffrey made it clear that he signed Oliver to help inculcate the right ethos among his younger players and, so far, the results speak for themselves.
“We are in good form right now and playing at a high intensity but there is still room for improvement,” said Oliver. “We can have a lot more closing down and we can improve fitness-wise to help us see the game through. Sometimes we defend too deep as well.
“And our finishing… In the last three games, we probably had about 50 good chances and only scored six!”
The excitement of a new ground and vibrant audience has proven to be a spur so far. Ask the young ball boy who was attending to the southern end of the ground yesterday.
“Oh gosh boy Guerra!” moaned several boisterous fans, as the second successive ball zipped past him and into the wide canal to his back.
“Yuh sleeping on yuhself or what?! Eh? You have problems or what?! You have a mortgage?!”
Fortunately, the next ball to fly his way came in a high, gentle arc and he carefully executed the catch to loud cheers and applause.
‘Guerra’ looked sheepishly at his feet but could not hide his ear to ear smile.
Central will try to puncture Jabloteh’s enthusiasm and camaraderie when they clash in Barataria after a lengthy break, due to the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team’s upcoming assignments against Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Boxing analogy apart, Oliver is well aware that Central have the energy levels, know-how and machismo to defy the Barataria Recreation Ground. But he is not the sort to back from a challenge.
“I think it will be a great match-up,” said Oliver. “I am just looking forward to it… The onus is on them. They have a great team and great players who I still love.
“But it is just one game so, with Yahweh on our side, who knows.”
San Juan Jabloteh (4-2-3-1): 35.Andrew Durant (GK); 4.Garth Thomas, 21.Aquil Selby, 24.Adrian Reid, 6.Akeem Benjamin; 26.Marvin Oliver, 11.Damian Williams (captain); 27.Nathan Lewis (8.Keyon Edwards 84), 13.Fabian Reid, 10.Tyrone Charles (2.Noel Williams 46); 7.Jamal Gay (9.Brent Sam 84).
Unused substitutes: 30.Shemel Louison (GK), 15.Jerome McIntyre, 20.Aaqil Campbell, 23.Kennedy Hinkson.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK); 13.Marvin Jones (9.Devorn Jorsling 66), 3.Jamali Garcia (8.Curtis Gonzales 46), 6.Rodell Elcock, 21.Akile Edwards; 4.Dave Long (10.Hashim Arcia 66), 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (captain); 12.Jemel Sebro, 23.Kerry Joseph, 30.Kishun Seecharan; 26.Richard Roy.
Unused substitutes: 1.Andre Marchan (GK), 7.Jelani Felix, 18.Sean Narcis, 20.Levi Serries.
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Referee: Gyasi McDonald
Man of the match: Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh)
TT Pro League results
(Saturday March 12)
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Nathan Lewis 25, 69), Defence Force 1 (Richard Roy 83 pen) at Barataria Recreation Ground;
(Friday March 11)
Morvant Caledonia Utd 1 (Jameel Neptune 90), Police FC 2 (Jameel Perry 49, Makesi Lewis 51) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
W Connection 1 (Dimitrie Apai 50), Point Fortin Civic 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium.
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I hope other teams follow suit and plays in community grounds
But doh worry I am back in our sweet country for good eh, so it will be me and them, they all know that I don’t have any affiliations down here eh, and I am a real bachanalist when it comes to defending our players rights and to continue to stop the exploitation and the madness with respect to doing the right things for the beautiful game and our sweet country eh. Them really good yes.
Hmm, you couldn’t have said it better, sweet sweet, T&T
Keon special good morning back to you well at least you are speaking the “TRUTH” with respect to your observations because when I also speak the “Truth” eh, some folks just cannot handle it, growing up in my sweet second country the America we are not about mediocrity and I know the potential of my players given the same set up like in the America and it will be a done deal, just yesterday evening I went down to my old stomping grounds my Police Barracks and if you see the state of the outside field ent Hassan C Araujo and I was telling him and other gentleman who came to support his son that we are so back wards because when the football fields were built the seating accommodations as you said is at an angle, even they had some tents set up with chairs in the Barracks and guess where they are set up behind the goal post and yes I understand it is because there is no space at the sides in order to do so, but gosh when they had plans to build many of the fields in our sweet country eh, they couldn’t leave enough space at the sides eh, and with respect to what you said about the reconstruction of the park in Morvant was trickly about politricks eh, because remember Terry Fenwick use to be the coach of Central F. C. and when the ex corrupted Sports Minister and himself fell out he blocked the monies that was allocated by the Sports Ministry for the field to be built and yes I agree 1000% that the field should have been built even if it was Terry that was getting it done because the both professional teams Morvant/ Lavantille Caleidona and Mau Pau would have really benefited from it and really for the crime situation in the community and to continue to develop the youths and make certain that they get scholarships and football contracts abroad another field that is also needed so badly to be rebuilt is the field in San Juan bougmalatress and yes the field have lights and again the ex- corrupted Sports Minister went to the area gallerying himself like if he was really going and do something eh, knowing that he wudda only having 6 months as a government minister eh. Them really good yes and that could have been San Juan Jabolteh home field.
And then the Pro League standing tall to say, putting back Professsional football in the community, SHM………
Earl Mango Pierre, special good morning, if i could recall last year around June myself, terry Terence William Fenwick the San Juan Laventille Co operation Mr John Wallace etc tried to re construct the grounds at park street morvant for the usage of Ma Pau Fc and Caliedonia AiA Fc to use as their training facility and home games. Everything was shut down because i strongly believe by Jealousy, Greed and just pure wickedness not to see a place of such develop. So its a complete joke, when i went and look at Jabloteh vs Point Civic Centre last weekend at the same venue all of what you spoke of is missing as well as the stands is facing north and the football field is running east to west. This country is so backward its a shame
AHEM!!! I am still my most greatest and loyal player Marvin Oliver manager for life eh Lol and I was really impressed by the team new home which use to be the Barataria Ball players home grounds back in the days eh, the only two problems I see is the there needs to be more lighting on the field and as you mentioned there needs to be seating accommodations for the fans and spectators with back and knee injuries like mehself eh LOL and I am hoping that they will also put up a fence around the field so by the next season Jabolteh can generate their own funds by charging and entrance fee eh, but their future really looks bright for community football like back in meh football days once more.
Keep up the great work Lasana Liburd
Sorry will talk later
small thing i up for it anytime but we have to create d thing doing some plan when i jump will shake up d thing
Hahaha Jamaal Shabazz today is funeral so hard press to explain everything but open gates full grounds happen year round in our community as minor leagues with the same players what we will b having is a professional minor league community fields are needed not d end all!! Thats y d proleague is failing bc we are not studying d business of football only nostilagia we neeed to do our work!! it come like u want house and land so u go build a shack and squat now is 2016 innovation and ideas is d way forward
Gordo community fields boy. Cale will try this in Morvant then if North East tries this again in Grande we have renewed interest. Talk to me is there any better marketing than playing on a community field.
Lassana I wanted to post an open letter about an incident that occurred at my Alma mata (St Benedicts) involving a student …an official and a fired coach but I wanted to check with you first to see if it was ok ….
I saw the letter. But there are bits of it that other people must respond to first in the interest of fairness and with appreciation of libel. That’s the issue.
Kirwin them mosquitoes like sweet blood lol
Aye aye aye…let’s just say I was in unfamiliar territory
Lol. Plenty atmosphere Kirwin. Good fun.
Lasana you could have mentioned how Sebro nearly closelined himself. And the man riding on the field during play. Lol
Highly entertaining game. Despite I stood throughout, and mosquito well bite meh tail !!!
Great atmosphere,Pro League please take note that this is the way forward for local football!
I really had to look twice to notice it was a night game there. Great photos. Like the one with Nathan on the shot
Jabloteh making a hard push for that CFU spot.
Wow! Five wins in a row for San Juan Jabloteh! Congrats to Marvin Oliver and Jabloteh now I eagerly wait to see what kind of write up or headlines Central F.C would get after a whopping FIFTEEN games undefeated or tell me Lasana Liburd did I miss it again? Because I have not seen Central F.C. make one headline from the one to fifteen games that they were undefeated eh so if I missed it I stand corrected because I know you don’t usually miss a beat when it comes to giving good, fair and unbiased coverage. So talk to meh! Lol
Then you are corrected. They made many headlines. Not enough for you clearly. But they aren’t the only team in the league. They are adequately covered.
Its mentioned regularly Bass Cleff lol
Think about it Bass, I’m writing about Jabloteh going through an exciting period and their wonderful match with Defence Force.
Yet even though Central didn’t play, I dedicated several paragraphs to how well they are playing, the fact that their coach hasn’t lost and even used a photo of Central in a story on Jabloteh v Defence Force…
And you’re STILL unhappy?! Lol.
I can’t rename our sport section: Central FC news.
Lol Lasana yuh wicked to imply that I’d want u to rename ur sports section but you might be right…yes I’m still unhappy lol because picture this right, last week W Connection’s “missed opportunities” made headlines while in the same article Central’s 6-0 thrashing in the Caribbean Cup was only mentioned in the article. Unless again I missed that one too. Yeah this devil’s advocate missing everything ent lol
I never knew wired was supposed to be Central fc’s official fan page…
Ahhh… You noticed that I mentioned Central in the W Connection report eh?
Central played in Jamaica and I was obviously not there. It wasn’t an option for me. I physically attended and covered the Connection game.
And, as you just said, I still made sure to speak about Central again.
Funny how I speak about Central when I cover their games. And I speak about Central even when I’m NOT at their games.
You are making a good case as to why there is saturated coverage.
Oh please Lasana Liburd lol. “Saturated” you say? Lol yuh sad…
Yuh take the words out mih mouth Nicholas Dumplin Bhajan.
Bass Cleff, you are an official at Real Maracas. You have a member of the Central coaching staff on your squad, you have the same sponsor as Central FC (Bankers Insurance) and you get players on loan from Central FC like Yaw Darko.
So I understand that Real Maracas benefit from Central FC.
When there are issues at Central like Oliver being unceremoniously sacked (he won his case), CONCACAF money being diverted to then Sport Minister Brent Sancho’s personal bank account and the non-payment of bonuses and arbitrary fines, I don’t hear a peep from you.
I find that a bit sad too. Don’t sacrifice your voice for the benefit of others.
In any case, I’ve made myself clear with regards our coverage. If you want to be surrounded by Central news, there is a Central FC fan group on Facebook.
I’m not speaking on “behalf” of anyone you know Lasana I made my personal “observation”. I don’t have a PR job anywhere. If Real Maracas’ performance this year was newsworthy and I felt that we weren’t getting what in my view was sufficient coverage I feel I could tell you the same way because I felt we had a rapport but would it change anything? Highly unlikely… This is your news site but I can make an observation or so I would have thought. Having said that tho its a bit surprising that you would think I’ll be anybody’s voice if you know me at all…
Glad to hear it. Despite our small size, I feel Wired868 covers more local football than even the traditional news houses who have more than half dozen paid reporters and millions in resources.
We will continue to do our best.
I know you remember that Wired868 went to Maracas with cameraman to boot. We couldn’t do that if we watching Central play. 😉
So we will continue to try to cover as much football as we can as professionally we can and deliver news free to readers.
You need to come more often if u ask me…”ONCE”? yikes!
Well, Maracas escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. By the same argument you used about why I should stick to the champion team. Then it is a wonder you saw me at all!
You should have been pleased if I wrote only about Defence Force and Guaya United for the whole season and never gave Maracas a line. 😉
And yet I’m sure you loved our visit and write up.
So let Jabloteh have theirs. They won five games in a row and are in an exciting phase with a new ground and energy.
Did I ever dispute the horrible season we had? If I recall correctly I am the one who described our season as one that was “not newsworthy”. Is escaping relegation by the skin of one’s teeth exclusive to Real Maracas? You sure made it sound so in my opinion and if so then we should have gotten equal coverage to Rangers and other teams in the same bracket. Anyway Lasana…do have a great day my friend and I certainly look forward to more entertaining material from you.
All teams deserve coverage although of course there will be more interest in the most successful teams. Later