DIRECTV W Connection dropped its first Pro League points of the season last night after being held goalless by Caledonia AIA at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Connection midfielders Jomal Williams and Silvio Spann both had shots rebound off the crossbar although Caledonia gave a good account of itself in a barren but entertaining clash at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Earlier at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, St Ann’s Rangers gave Central FC a major fright but could not hold on as Central recovered from a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 in an exciting clash, which was further spiced up by some questionable officiating.
Central’s triumph meant the “Couva Sharks” were the biggest movers of this round as they climbed from seventh to fourth spot while Rangers remained rooted at the bottom of the nine-team table.
At the summit, Connection has held pole position since its opening fixture on September 14 when the “Savonetta Boys” mauled Rangers 7-0 in Port of Spain. But Caledonia, who lost Guyanese defender Jamal Smith following an aerial collision after just 12 minutes, was nowhere near as pliant.
The only threatening moment of the first half came in the 21st minute as Williams stepped inside from the left flank and curled an effort off the bar following a typically brisk Connection counter. But there was much to enjoy about the exchanges as both teams mixed crisp, attacking ball movement with resolute defending.
Connection right back Joao Ananias had the best chance of the match after being sent clear by Joevin Jones, midway through the second half, but his shot was too close to Caledonia’s Grenadian custodian Shemel Louison.
Two minutes later, Louison tipped a viciously curling Spann corner kick off his own bar while he also went full stretch to keep out a late 22-yard Jones free kick as Caledonia held on for a point.
Caledonia remained sixth but ahead of Point Fortin Civic on goal difference as the Pro League rookie club slipped to seventh, which is its lowest position so far this season.
Central moved in the right direction but it was nowhere near as straightforward as coach Terry Fenwick might have expected against the table proppers.
The Sharks went ahead after just two minutes courtesy of a Keon Trim finish and might have been out of sight within the first 30 minutes as they laid siege to Rangers. But, one minute before the interval, an extraordinary refereeing decision gave the St Ann’s-based club a way back into the match.
Rangers striker Duran Dilworth was alone inside the opposing six yard box and well behind the Central defence when Kennedy Isles’ scoffed shot rolled into his path and he instinctively deflected the ball past Central custodian Jan-Michael Williams.
The Central players could not believe their eyes when referee’s assistant Crystal Sobers sprinted towards the halfline and referee Keilon Bacchus endorsed her decision.
But Rangers was a transformed team after the halftime break.
Lanky left sided 20-year-old midfielder Jelani Peters was the game’s outstanding player as he feasted on the less-than-stellar defensive efforts of Kaydion Gabriel, who deputised for the injured Elton John at right back.
And Peters steamed past Gabriel again in the 56th minute before crossing to Michael Yaw Darko who had enough space from his marker, Dwight Pope, to control before driving past Williams.
The lead lasted just five minutes before the officials again swung the fate of the match.
Central attacker Johan Peltier and Rangers captain Clevon McFee dashed towards a loose ball and Peltier got their fractionally before McFee’s challenge. Peltier’s tumble looked calculated but Bacchus awarded a penalty kick and Central captain Marvin Oliver finished emphatically off the underside of the bar.
Central defender Jamal Jack, a former Rangers employee, was played through the opposing defence by substitute Darren Mitchell but was denied by Rangers goalkeeper Terrence Clarke while Peltier curled one effort just over the bar from the edge of the area.
At the other end, Rangers also threatened to take all three points as midfielder Conrad Smith’s measured passes were routinely finding daylight spaces in the Central defence while Dilworth and Peters always looked dangerous.
But, two minutes from time, it was Central who made the breakthrough when Jason Marcano met a Peltier cross with a neat header for only his second goal of the season and his first from open play.
The Sharks spent the rest of the match trying to waste time near the corner flags rather than playing football. It was a perverse tribute to Rangers.
But Central got all three points at stake and will spend the Christmas break in the top half of the Pro League table.
St Ann’s Rangers (4-4-2): 25.Terrence Lewis (GK); 21.Jair Edwards, 7.Clevon McFee (captain), 12.Tevin Gilkes, 30.Rickyl Morris; 26.Josh Toussaint, 16.Kennedy Isles, 9.Conrad Smith, 4.Jelani Peters; 5.Duran Dilworth, 14.Michael Yaw Darko (36.Hakeem Legall 76).
Unused substitutes: 1.Akel Clarke (GK), 2.Marcus Roberts, 8.Joel Whiteman.
Coach: Gilbert Bateau
Central FC (4-3-3): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 24.Akeem Benjamin, 19.Dwight Pope (23.Hector Sam 79), 12.Jamal Jack; 7.Jason Marcano, 10.Marvin Oliver (captain), 13.Johan Peltier; 22.Keon Trim (18.Kevon Goddard 59), 9.Dwight Quintero, 17.Rundell Winchester (11.Darren Mitchell 62).
Unused substitutes: 25.Javon Sample (GK), 4.Omar Charles.
Coach: Terry Fenwick
Referee: Keilon Bacchus
Pro League results
(Fri Dec 20)
Police FC 1 (Todd Ryan 30), North East Stars 0 at Hasely Crawford
Defence Force 2 (Jerwyn Balthazar 44, Ross Russell Jr 86), San Juan Jabloteh 0 at Hasely Crawford
(Sat Dec 21)
Central FC 3 (Keon Trim 2, Marvin Oliver 61 pen, Jason Marcano 88), St Ann’s Rangers 2 (Duran Dilworth 44, Michael Yaw Darko 56)
Caledonia AIA 0, W Connection 0 at Port of Spain[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]