Joint Digicel Pro League leaders Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA and Defence Force kept pace atop the football standings last nights with resounding but contrasting wins over Police FC (5-1) and Central FC (3-0) respectively at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
Caledonia and Defence Force have ten points each although the former team has a goal difference of plus-10 as opposed to plus-three for the army/coast guard combination.
The North East Stars team, which has six points, plays St Ann’s Rangers from 4 pm today at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar while defending champions DirecTV W Connection tackles table proppers T&TEC FC from 5 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
Connection has five points and two games in hand—counting today’s fixture—but coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier might be concerned about his team’s poor offensive showings. The “Savonetta Boys” have managed just three goals from five competitive domestic outings this season, which is the lowest of any top flight team.
Last night, Defence Force and Caledonia showed the misfiring Connection strikers how it is done.
Defence Force assistant coach Marvin Gordon ran the technical area in the absence of head coach Ross Russell, who is on duty with the Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team. And, for the second successive game, the “Teteron Boys” started with national senior team striker Devorn Jorsling on the substitutes’ bench although he was named the Pro League’s best player in October and his personal tally, before kick off, matched the three goals scored by Connection’s entire team.
“I wanted people on the bench who can come on and change the game,” Gordon told Wired868. “We need game changers on the bench too and I know Devorn and Jerwyn (Balthazar) can give us that.”
Defence Force opened the scoring through an unlikely source as central defender Rodell Elcock rose to head home off a Cory Rivers corner kick in the 22nd minute. And a combination of wasteful finishing from winger Kevon Carter and inspired goalkeeping by Central custodian Marvin Phillip saw the scoreline remain unchanged until the interval as the Pro League newcomers unravelled late in the first half.
“I thought Central FC started the game quickly,” said Gordon. “They matched us for the first 25 minutes but after they were indisciplined and they lost their shape. We had some chances but Marvin (Phillip) made some great saves.”
Defence Force should have increased its lead again in the 53rd minute as swashbuckling left back Aklie Edwards ghosted past Central defender Marc Leslie before whipping in a cross that Jamal Sebro could not his beyond an advancing Phillip from just five yards.
Central, ironically, enjoyed more possession thanks to the tidy distribution of veteran central midfielder Marvin Oliver but lacked penetration. The “Sharks” best opportunity fell to industrious American striker Ladule Rako-Losarah in the 56th minute but, after cleverly creating the opportunity himself, he smacked his effort against the bar.
Gordon responded by introducing Balthazar and Jorsling and neither let their boss down.
Jorsling’s booming left foot shots are his trademark but he showed his versatility with a more subtle finish last night. After Cummings lost possession in the 77th minute, Defence Force utility player Curtis Gonzales sent Jorsling clear and the striker opened his body, as if to finish to Phillip’s right, but then skilfully dragged the ball to the other side of the custodian before tapping into an empty net.
Carter provided some gloss to the score summary, five minutes from time, with a close range finish after being sent clear by teammate Keston Williams.
Arguably, the final score flattered Defence Force but Gordon is not too worried by his team’s patchy form.
“We haven’t peaked yet but we are not worried because we want to peak when the time is right,” said Gordon. “We are on the right track to go on to win the league.”
If Defence Force still looks short of fluency, the same cannot be said of Caledonia. And it was another commendable performance from the “Eastern Stallions” last night as they brushed aside Police.
The “Lawmen” had conceded just three goals from five outings in League and Cup competitions this season before last night. But they had no answer for an in-form Caledonia.
Coach Jerry Moe, who is part of Caledonia’s technical double-act alongside Jamaal Shabazz, was adjudged October’s Coach of the Year yesterday and the pair again called it right last night as striker Jamal Gay and Guyanese international left wingback Walter Moore were rested while left winger Trayon Bobb, also from Guyana, started on the bench alongside Ataullah Guerra with little noticeable difference to the Caledonia chemistry.
Keyon Edwards cracked the opening goal in the 20th minute before playmaker Densill Theobald doubled Caledonia’s advantage with a composed finish in the 28th minute after being sent clear by Edwards.
Edwards got the other two goals himself, via a predatory finish in the 38th minute and clinical half volley in the 57th minute, to register the fourth Pro League hattrick this season. His teammate, Guerra, scored a treble last week against T&TEC while Bevon Bass (T&TEC) and Josimar Belgrave (Defence Force) did likewise, last month, against St Ann’s Rangers and North East Stars respectively.
Substitute Trevin Caesar got Caledonia’s closing item with a bullet into the corner after being teed up by fellow substitute, Guerra.
Police should have registered its first goal in the 36th minute after Jevon Morris was tripped in the opposing box by Aubrey David. But captain Todd Ryan’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Caledonia custodian Glenroy Samuel low to his left.
David’s former Under-17 World Cup teammate, Stephen Knox, did muster a consolation item for Police in the 44th minute. But Police coach Richard Hood might have been relieved at the final whistle.
North East Stars and Connection must ensure today that Defence Force and Caledonia do not create daylight space from the pack at the top of the Pro League.
Caledonia AIA (4-1-3-2): 33.Glenroy Samuel; 12.Kareem Joseph, 24.Kemron Purcell, 3.Nuru Muhammad, 2.Aubrey David; 7.Stephan David (capt); 27.Nathan Lewis (13.Trayon Bobb 77), 21.Densill Theobald, 8.Cornelius Stewart (6.Trevin Caesar 60); 9.Keyon Edwards, 10.Conrod Smith (25.Ataullah Guerra 60).
Unused subs: 34.Colin Edwards, 4.Colin Nelson, 5.Aquil Selby, 35.Odelle Armstrong.
Coach: Jamaal Shabazz/Jerry Moe
Police (4-1-4-1): 33.Emmanuel Nurse; 18.Jevon Morris, 4.Karlon Murray, 35.Weslie John, 8.Akiba Peters; 5.Anton Hutchinson; 11.Kareem Perry, 10.Trent Noel, 21.Todd Ryan (capt) (1.Errol Charles 88), 19.Stephen Knox; 15.Jameel Perry (9.Keon Quow 72).
Unused subs: 29.Keston Mata, 12.Ricardo Peltier, 23.Dillon Lewis, 26.Joshua Bachan, 28.Aaron Stewart.
Coach: Richard Hood
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 1.Kevin Graham; 14.Cory Rivers (capt), 5.Devin Jordan, 20.Rodell Elcock, 21.Aklie Edwards; 3.Keston Williams, 8.Curtis Gonzales; 29.Jamal Sebro (15.Jerwyn Balthazar 62), 12.Josimar Belgrave (10.Devorn Jorsling 67), 11.Kevon Carter; 9.Richard Roy (17.Ross Russell Jr 84).
Unused subs: 25.Sheldon Clarke, 4.Marvin Jones, 22.Ronald St Louis, 24.Jahvon Neptune.
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Central FC (4-4-2): 1.Marvin Phillip; 2.Dylon Charles, 6.Marc Leslie, 3.Keion Goodridge, 23.Kevaughn Connell; 7.Hayden Tinto (12.Simba Aberdeen 60), 10.Marvin Oliver, 15.Sayid Freitas (8.Keron Cummings 46, 14.Tyrone Charles (18.Cyrano Glen 78); 9.Anthony Wolfe (capt), 11.Ladule Rako-Losarah.
Unused subs: 13.Shane Mattis, 19.Adrian Noel, 20.Darryl Trim, 26.Quincy Charles.
Coach: Graham Rix
Digicel Pro League
(Fri Nov 9)
Caledonia AIA 5 (Keyon Edwards 20, 38, 60, Densill Theobald 28, Trevin Caesar 89), Police 1 (Stephen Knox 44) at Port of Spain
Defence Force 3 (Rodell Elcock 22, Devorn Jorsling 77, Kevon Carter 85), Central FC 0 at Port of Spain[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]