DIRECTV W Connection continued their close season mastery over Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA last night with a 3-1 Digicel Pro Bowl triumph at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, despite the absence of star midfielder Joevin Jones.
The “Savonetta Boys”, who failed to defeat Caledonia in three regular season games, have now whipped the “Eastern Stallions” in the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield, CONCACAF Champions League qualifiers and the on-going Pro Bowl.
Connection now joins defending Pro Bowl champions Defence Force, North East Stars and rookie team Central FC in the semi-finals.
Defence Force spanked T&TEC FC 5-0 at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya in what is likely to be the “Electricity Boys” last game at this level.
Speedy attacker Kevon Carter scored three times for the Army/Coast Guard combination while winger Ross Russell Jr and defender Rodell Elcock chipped in a goal each.
Carter’s treble took him to 19 goals in all competitions and third place among Trinidad and Tobago’s top domestic marksmen with only teammate Devorn Jorsling (27 goals) and North East Stars striker Cornell Glen (20) ahead of him. It is an impressive return for the soldier who played much of the season as a winger.
North East Stars cruised to the final whistle as well with a 3-0 win over St Ann’s Rangers.
The Sangre-Grande based team again had to make do without the injured Glen but goals from utility player Kennedy Hinkson, defender Kareem Moses and promising young attacker Marcus Gomez saw them into the semi-finals.
There was more tension in the opening game of a double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium where the “Couva Sharks” rode their luck at times against Police.
Central might have gone ahead in the 20th minute as Rundell Winchester headed off the bar after a cross from Antigua and Barbuda international Peter Byers.
But Keon Quow and substitute Jameel Perry both failed to capitalise on excellent scoring opportunities for the “Lawmen” while Central captain and Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip made an outstanding second half to keep out Police winger Clevon McFee.
And Byers made Police pay with a fine left foot shot from outside the penalty area in the 61st minute as the opposing defence inexcusably backed off.
The Antiguan has had a mixed spell since returning to Trinidad in January but his tally now stands at 10 goals in all competitions, which brings Byers level with the likes of Defence Force’s Richard Roy and Connection’s Hashim Arcia.
The match-up between Caledonia and Connection was always going to be the draw of the round, though.
Caledonia plays Jamaica’s Portmore on Monday and Tuesday evening for a place in the CONCACAF Champions League and coach Jamaal Shabazz declared his hope for strong competition in the Pro Bowl’s quarterfinal round. He certainly got it.
Within the opening 10 minutes, the Stallions were already behind.
Arcia ran on to Pacheco pass and skilfully flicked the ball over Caledonia goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel whose momentum took him straight into the attacker. Pacheco converted the penalty with a typical thumping finish.
Four minutes into the second half, Pacheco was involved in a second Connection goal as Samuel spilled his fierce freekick and 18-year-old attacker Neil Benjamin Jr rammed home his fifth goal in the last 10 days.
Caledonia playmaker Densill Theobald was putting himself about in the midfield but not enough of his teammates were following his example. The World Cup 2006 offered the Morvant/Laventille a lifeline in the 52nd minute when he rapped a free kick off the far upright and left back Aubrey David converted the rebound.
But Arcia produced a clinical finish for a third Connection goal in the 78th minute after a build-up that involved Surinamese winger Stefano Rijssel and Pacheco. And the Savonetta Boys were never troubled thereafter despite losing Colombian utility player Christian Viveros to a straight red card.
W Connection: 21.Alejandro Figueroa; 25.Christian Viveros [Red Card], 4.Daneil Cyrus, 19.Joel Russell (5.Elijah Joseph 75), 32.Kurt Frederick; 12.Gerrard Williams (vice-captain), 8.Clyde Leon (captain) (20.Silvio Spann 54); 14.Hashim Arcia (29.Jomal Williams 81); 65.Neil Benjamin, 17.Andrei Pacheco, 26.Stefano Rijssel.
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester, 31.Jerrel Britto, 39.Alvin Jones, 42.Tremain Paul.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Caledonia AIA (4-4-1-1): 33.Glenroy Samuel; 19.Nical Stephens, 4.Colin Nelson, 20.Akeem Thomas, 2.Aubrey David; 17.Akim Armstrong (11.Abdallah Phillips 81), 7.Stephan David (captain), 21.Densill Theobald, 27.Nathan Lewis; 26.Vurlon Mills (23.Jamal Gay 59); 9.Keyon Edwards (22.Miguel Romeo 72).
Unused substitutes: 1.Shemel Louision, 3.Nuru Muhammad, 15.Aaron Lester, 16.Odelle Armstrong.
Coach: Jamaal Shabazz
2013 Digicel Pro Bowl
(Fri May 17)
Central FC 1 (Peter Byers 61), Police FC 0 at Couva
W Connection 3 (Andrei Pacheco 9 pen, Neil Benjamin Jr 49, Hashim Arcia 79), Caledonia 1 (Aubrey David 52) at Couva
Defence Force 5 (Rodell Elcock 63, Kevon Carter 68, 70, 83, Ross Russell Jr 78), T&TEC 0 at Macoya
North East Stars 3 (Kennedy Hinkson 28, Marcus Gomez 45, Kareem Moses 48), St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Macoya