DIRECTV W Connection and Caledonia AIA, Trinidad and Tobago’s two CONCACAF Champions League participants, opened their 2013-14 Digicel Pro League campaigns with contrasting results last night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Connection romped to a clinical 7-0 thumping against St. Ann’s Rangers but the “Eastern Stallions” slumped to a 3-0 humbling at the hands of North East Stars in the Pro League double header.
After defending champions Defence Force fell 3-1 to Central FC on Friday evening in Couva, W Connection sent a pertinent early warning about their title ambitions as the “Savonetta Boys” dominated possession throughout the 90 minutes.
It took Connection just 16 minutes to open the scoring, as Brazilian midfielder Celio Da Silva Santos fired home from close range after the Rangers defence failed to effectively clear a corner kick.
Connection captain and “Soca Warriors” midfielder Joevin Jones created the second for Surinamese striker Stefano Rijssel with an inch-perfect through-ball in the 35th minute.
Rangers responded with two substitutions at the second half but they failed to have the desired effect as things went from bad to worse and coach Gilbert Bateau’s team ended with 10 players on the field as substitute goalie Kern Cesar was ejected in the 80th minute for dragging down opposing attacker Neil Benjamin Jr.
For Connection, however, the second half was basically the “Kurt Frederick show”.
Either side of goals from Rijssel and Jomal Williams, Frederick showed more Brazilian-esque tendencies on the night than Connection’s right back Joao Ananias with a tremendous and unlikely hat-trick.
The pick of his three strikes was easily his first in the 65th minute as he charged forward to receive a delightful long pass from Benjamin and struck a powerful drive into the top corner.
Rangers, who made some backroom changes in the pre-season, will hope last night’s drubbing is just an aberration.
The small crowd expected a more competitive game in the second fixture but was left stunned as North East Stars clinched a fairly comfortable victory.
The Sangre Grande outfit has lost star striker Cornell Glen to Indian club Shillong Lajong but his replacement and former Caledonia forward Trevin Caesar helped ease the loss of his departure on the night.
Caesar did not score but his pace created uncertainty in the Caledonia defense that missed new Guyanese signing Jamal Smith to injury while left back Aubrey David hobbled off during the game.
In the end, Micah Lewis got the opener while an Anthony Wolfe double ensured that Stars kicked off its campaign with a win against Caledonia for the second successive season.
North East Stars: 22.Cleon John (GK) (captain); 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 5.Aquil Selby, 2.Kareem Moses, 3.Kevon Villaroel; 25.Kenny Navarro, 6.Jeromie Williams (28.Yhon Lopez 71); 9.Anthony Wolfe (17.Andres Cabrero 90), 18.Kaashif Thomas (12.Jayson Joseph 76), 8.Micah Lewis (7.Elijah Manners 76); 20.Trevin Caesar.
Unused substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 9.Akil Guevara, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 36.Marcus Gomez.
Coach: Angus Eve
Neal and Massy Caledonia AIA (4-4-2): 1.Shemel Louison (GK); 12.Kareem Joseph, 3.Nuru Abdullah Muhammad, 5.Akeem Thomas, 2.Aubrey David (20.Noel Williams 66); 16.Tyronne Charles (11.Abdullah Phillips 76), 7.Stephan David (captain), 8.Keron Bethlemy (21.Densill Theobald 46), 27.Nathan Lewis; 9.Keyon Edwards, 23.Jamal Gay.
Unused substitutes: 33.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 6.Marcus Ambrose, 17.Akim Armstrong, 22.Miguel Romeo.
Coach: Jamaal Shabazz
Referee: Gordon Maloney
Pro League Results
(Saturday September 14)
DIRECTV W Connection 7 (Celio Da Silva 16, Stefano Rijssel 35, 68, Kurt Fredrick 65, 80, 85, Jomal Williams), St. Ann’s Rangers 0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium
North East Stars 3 (Micah Lewis 14, Anthony Wolfe 55, 87), Caledonia AIA 0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium
[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]