Pro League leader DIRECTV W Connection rebounded from last week’s derby defeat tonight with a comfortable 4-0 triumph over San Juan Jabloteh at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, which stretched its lead atop the table to a daunting eight points.
Jabloteh sat deep throughout yet created its fair share of opportunities in the first half. But the “San Juan Kings” had no answer once former Jabloteh player Jerrel Britto opened the scoring in the 47th minute and Connection, who lost 3-0 to bitter rivals Central FC last Friday, ultimately cruised towards the final whistle and a handsome win.
It was not nearly as comfortable in the opening match of a double header as Point Fortin Civic had to come from behind to edge St Ann’s Rangers 2-1.
Ghanaian attacker Mickael Yaw Darko put the Pro League’s bottom club ahead after just 10 minutes with a looping header off a Keron Cornwall cross that nestled into the far corner. But veteran forward Andre Toussaint brought Civic level from the penalty spot in the 21st minute after a foul on teenaged midfielder Akeem Redhead.
And Andre Alexis got the winner for Civic in the 50th minute with a wonderful improvised scissors kick into the corner after Rangers failed to clear a corner kick.
It was the Point Fortin fans who were begging referee Dave Daniel to blow off the match, though, as Rangers threatened throughout and were in complete control for the last half hour with 20-year-old captain Jelani Peters seemingly playing all over the midfield area at once.
Jabloteh made a rod for its own back against Connection in the second game.
For almost the entire season, coach Keith Jeffrey has showed up on match day with just one goalkeeper in his 18-man squad. And, tonight, it finally cost him.
The game was barely four minutes old when Jabloteh custodian Shane Mattis went down in pain clutching his left hand after a collision with Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr. He spent over five minutes getting treatment and Jeffrey did not even bother asking one of his substitutes to warm up.
Every Connection shot thereafter that Mattis got a hand on was followed by a yelp of pain and more time on the ground being treated by club medics.
Referee Neal Brizan should probably have acted in the young man’s interest. Or Mattis should have demanded that he be transported to the closest hospital. But no one acted decisively and with compassion for Jabloteh’s Jamaican employee.
If Jabloteh did not care about the wellbeing of its own goalkeeper, Connection was well within its rights to be unsympathetic too. And the “Savonetta Boys” eventually made them pay with four second half goals.
Britto took advantage of miscommunication between Mattis and Kareem Smith to head home a rebound from his own shot in the 47th minute while, two minutes later, Joevin Jones steered into an empty net after Neil Benjamin drove across the face of the goal.
Jones doubled up in the 66th minute with a precise finish in the far corner after a clever return pass from Hashim Arcia before substitute Dimitrie Apai outpaced Smith to stroke the fourth past Mattis.
Spare a thought too for Jabloteh midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford who might have deserved more assistance from his teammates today.
The 23-year-old Rochford, a two-time former World Youth Cup player, looked several pounds overweight and will need to regain his mobility if he is to turn youthful promise into senior success. But his passionate play, crisp set pieces and booming long ranged shots were as good as it got for Jabloteh on the offensive end.
Twice, Rochford threatened Connection goalkeeper Julani Archibald from distance and his second effort from 30 yards clipped the top of the bar. Smith diverted one Rochford free kick on goal but was denied by Archibald while the flying Kittian goalkeeper also kept out a Bradley Welch header following a scooped pass from Rochford.
But, overall, Connection was comfortably the better team. It did not hurt that Jones and the gang were playing against a virtually one-handed goalkeeper.
It did hurt Mattis though. He should thank Jeffrey for that.
W Connection (4-2-1-3): 18.Julani Archibald (GK); 39.Alvin Jones, 4.Daneil Cyrus, 15.Mekeil Williams, 2.Kurt Frederick; 3.Gerard Williams (captain) (40.Jomal Williams 80), 11.Tremain Paul, 10.Joevin Jones; 65.Neil Benjamin (32.Dimitrie Apai 65), 14.Hashim Arcia, 12.Jerrel Britto (20.Stefano Rijssel 67).
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 5.Jamil Joseph, 13.Devaughn Elliot, 25.Christian Viveros.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
San Juan Jabloteh (4-2-3-1): 30.Shane Mattis (GK); 20.Dwane James (13.Savion Kirton 57), 24.Kareem Smith, 12.Jamal Spencer, 16.Nyron Jones; 4.Jean-Luc Rochford, 2.Duran Dilworth; 14.Shaquille Bertrand (23.Marcus Gomez 57), 8.Bradley Welch, 15.Micah Lewis; 10.Kerry Baptiste (captain) (9.Jelani Felix 76).
Unused substitutes: 7.Rennie Britto, 17.Kerry Daniel, 19.Dillon Kirton, 25.Alfie James.
Coach: Kevin Jeffrey
Referee: Neal Brizan
Pro League results
(Tue 18 Mar)
Point Fortin Civic 2 (Andre Toussaint 21 pen, Andre Alexis 50), St Ann’s Rangers 1 (Mickael Yaw Darko 10) at Couva
W Connection 4 (Jerrel Britto 47, Joevin Jones 49, 66, Dimitrie Apai 81), San Juan Jabloteh 0 at Couva
(Fri Mar 21)
W Connection vs North East Stars, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva;
Central FC vs Point Fortin Civic, 8 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva;
(Sat Mar 22)
Police FC vs San Juan Jabloteh, 4 pm, Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.[standings league_id=2 template=extend logo=true]