Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA returned to winning ways in the Digicel Pro League this evening albeit with a scrappy 2-1 win over St Ann’s Rangers at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The triumph moved Caledonia to within six points of runaway leaders, Defence Force, while the Morvant/Laventille team also extended its advantage over North East Stars by the same margin. Stars played just 12 league games, though, while Caledonia and Army have both played three.
In the closing fixture of an Ato Boldon double header, defending champions DIRECTV W Connection won its second consecutive Couva derby with a 1-0 triumph against rookie outfit, Central FC.
A second-half rocket from Connection midfielder Joevin Jones, which flew straight through the hands of Central and Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, settled a competitive fixture that was marred by questionable officiating from referee Rodphin Harris, who infuriated both teams by his inconsistent interpretation of foul play and failure to spot the odd corner kick.
The result was arguably tough on Central who might have settled for a point but ended with 10 players as Keion Goodridge was ejected for a lunge at Connection’s Surinamese attacker Stefano Rijssell.
The evening’s proceedings started on a sombre note as there was a minute’s silence observed for slain 33-year-old Laventille resident Marvin Guerra. He was the older brother of Caledonia and Trinidad and Tobago international midfielder Ataullah Guerra and had seen him off at the Piarco International Airport on Carnival Sunday when the gifted midfielder left for a trials in the Finland Premier League.
Guerra was gunned down at St Paul’s Street on Sunday for supposedly crossing the borderline in an ongoing feud between neighbouring gangs.
The Caledonia AIA football club offers the more positive face of the Morvant/Laventille region and the “Eastern Stallions” only had metaphorical guns blazing this evening.
Rangers looked badly wounded all the same as Caledonia stormed to a two-goal lead within the first 16 minutes.
Kareem Joseph put the Stallions ahead from the penalty spot in the 12th minute after Rangers goalkeeper Zane Coker upended Trevin Caesar. And things got worse for Coker, a former Caledonia employee, when he mistimed a clearance and hit only air as Caesar ran behind him to tap home the second.
Aubrey David and Sherron Joseph both missed opportunities to extend Caledonia’s advantage as a rout seemed a distinct possibility. But a Tyrone Charles item, seconds before the halftime interval, changed the complexion of the match.
Joseph (K) was arguably at fault as he allowed Charles a yard of space at the edge of the Caledonia area and the former Central FC winger plucked a firmly hit Mikhail Awai pass out of the air before blasting to the right of opposing goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel.
The St Ann’s outfit was a transformed side for the second half and central midfielder Dwayne James was invariably at the heart of their best moves as the Caribbean champions hung on.
Samuel was alert to intercept a Cecil Jeffrey cross in the 62nd minute with Rangers striker Devon Modeste lurking. And the former 2009 Under-20 World Cup goalkeeper reacted quickly again to deny Modeste in the 78th minute after a clever Awai pass.
It was as close as Rangers would come, though, and the late expulsion of left back Dominic Hutchinson, for a rash challenge on Joseph (K), finished any hope of a recovery.
Caledonia look a long way from presenting a plausible challenge to Defence Force. But three points this evening mean the Stallions still have a shot.
Caledonia AIA (4-4-2): 33.Glenroy Samuel; 12.Kareem Joseph, 20.Akeem Thomas (5.Aquil Selby 46), 4.Colin Nelson, 2.Aubrey David; 17.Akim Armstrong, 7.Stephan David, 22.Miguel Romeo, 11.Abdallah Phillips (26.Vurlon Mills 58); 18.Sherron Joseph, 6.Trevin Caesar (16.Odelle Armstrong 70).
Unused substitutes: 1.Shemel Louision, 24.Shemol Trimmingham, 27.Nathan Lewis, 19.Jamille Boatswaim.
Coach: Jerry Moe
St Ann’s Rangers (4-: 1.Zane Coker; 30.Ryan O’ Neil, 6.Musa Nakhid, 12.Jamal Jack, 3.Dominic Hutchinson; 15.Mikhail Awai (captain), 18.Muhammed Nakhid (2.Alfie James 75), 17.Dwane James, 29.Cecil Jeffrey, 7.Tyrone Charles, 10.Devon Modeste.
Unused substitutes: 11.Keifer Edwards, 16.Kurdell Braithwaite, 19.Marvin Lee, 22.Adel Clarke, 23.Kadeem Drayton, 24.Jovon Pardassie.
Coach: Dean Pacheco
Referee: Cecile Hinds
Digicel Pro League
(Wed Feb 20)
Caledonia AIA 2 (Kareem Joseph 12 pen, Trevin Caesar 16), St Ann’s Rangers 1 (Tyrone Charles 45) at Couva
W Connection 1 (Joevin Jones 69), Central FC 0 at Couva[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]