Fourth placed Adam’s Construction San Juan Jabloteh climbed to third place tonight with a 1-1 draw against defending champions Defence Force in 2011/12 Digicel Pro League football action at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.
Jabloteh moved a point clear of T&TEC who dropped to fourth spot with 19 points. However, Jabloteh has played 13 games as opposed to T&TEC’s 11 outings.
Defence Force, who stayed fifth on 12 points, played just its ninth game of the season.
Rangers’ under-21 striker Cameron Roget opened the scoring after just four minutes—his second item in successive matches—and a calamitous mix-up doubled his team’s advantage in the 22nd minute. Stars’ defender Glenton Wolfe and Olympic team goalkeeper Andre Marchan got their signals crossed as the former player’s back pass crossed the line for an own goal.
Halftime substitute Gary Glasgow gave Stars hope with a 85th goal but it was too little too late for the Sangre Grande-based club as Rangers held out for a 2-1 win.
Stars and Rangers have 12 points each now after 12 games played although Stars has a better goal difference.
Last year’s controversial State of Emergency meant Defence Force and Police were unable to play for three months and the disjointed flow of games has been damaging for the local top flight competition. Naturally, Defence Force and Police were hardest hit and neither had a chance to qualify for the 2012 Caribbean Club Championship through no fault of their own.
Defence Force coach Ross Russell had more reason to feel sorry for himself, if he was so minded, as his team finished with 10 men tonight. Midfielder Sean Narcis left in an ambulance with a suspected broken leg while substitute Balondemu Julius came off rubbing the side of his face, after a collision, and never returned to the field of play.
Remarkably, the army/coast guard combination came closest to nicking all three points at the death with striker Richard Roy in the thick of things.
Roy, who started upfront in Trinidad and Tobago’s recent international friendly against Finland, is having his own way in the Pro League at the moment and he needed just nine minutes to open the score summary yesterday.
His eighth goal of the season—the competition’s best tally so far—came from the penalty spot after Jabloteh defender Elton John bundled over the muscular striker. Roy by converted by coolly stroking the ball to his left while Jabloteh captain and goalkeeper Cleon John dived vainly to the opposite corner.
Roy could feasibly have had a second penalty kick, seven minutes later, after being clattered by John’s central defensive partner, Jamal Jack, but referee Rashby McPhee lacked the nerve.
Regardless, Roy had another chance at his double in the 35th minute but scoffed his shot at the far post after a squared pass by Narcis.
It was a costly miss. Five minutes later, Jabloteh was level after Defence Force failed to clear a deep free kick into the opposing penalty area and Jason Marcano took advantage with a powerful header that the opposing goalkeeper Kevin Graham failed to keep out.
The scrappy finish was reminiscent of a match that was full of enthusiasm and bite but low on quality. Players launched into each other and balls whistled overhead in a route one contest that lacked patience and intricacy.
Jabloteh held more possession but, once in the opposing half, their midfielders also succumbed to the temptation of early and often pointless crosses rather than trying to invent a clear opportunity.
The style of play is even more worrying considering that Jabloteh possesses several decent passers of the ball including veteran maestro Marvin Oliver and young Devon Jamerson while Defence Force midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar is also comfortable in possession.
Roy, a battering ram of a striker, seemed happy enough with the pace of the game and almost created one item for Balthazar—his teammate miskicked from his inviting cross—before blasting a free kick into the wall in the dying seconds.
One point each seemed a fair result at the final whistle.
Rangers 2 (Cameron Roget 4, Glenton Wolfe OG 22), NE Stars 1 (Gary Glasgow 85)
Defence Force 1 (Richard Roy 9 pen), Jabloteh 1 (Jason Marcano 40)