Defence Force made sure any team that wanted its Digicel Pro League trophy would need to prise it from its cold hands. And, in the end, DIRECTV W Connection did just that as the “Savonetta Boys” romped to a 4-1 win over the defending champions at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The Army/Coast Guard combination had a great run but, with the season at stake, coach Ross Russell’s men had nothing left in the tank. By halftime, Connection was 3-1 ahead and the shell-shocked soldiers never really looked like recovering.
Winger Jemel Sebro, left back Aklie Edwards and midfield anchor Dave Long were all out injured while striker Richard Roy was abandoned weeks ago for poor attitude. And when star striker Devorn Jorsling, who has not fully recovered from a hamstring injury, hobbled off in the 68th minute, the “Teteron Boys” might as well have hoisted the white flag.
Before tonight, Connection had not defeated any of the top four clubs in 2014 as the “White Knights” stumbled to the finish line. But they were not about to let a weakened Defence Force team escape and, at the first sniff of weakness, they went for the jugular like matadors.
Surinamese winger Stefano Rijssel, a forgotten man for much of this year, open the scoring after just four minutes with a fine left footed strike into the far corner. And, suitably inspired, Joevin Jones and Hashim Arcia also lifted themselves out of a mini-slump with a double and single respectively as Connection outplayed the defending champions.
Versatile attacking midfielder Josimar Belgrave, who took up much of the goal scoring slack as Jorsling’s health sagged, pulled a goal back in the 36th minute. But it was not nearly enough.
The silver lining for the Defence Force was Central FC’s failure to defeat San Juan Jabloteh, earlier in the evening. Central’s goalless draw means that the Teteron Boys need only one point against Jabloteh next week to at least grab the second place spot and a berth in the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship.
But the night belonged to Connection as its players fell to the ground to pray at the final whistle before cavorting with the massive gleaming Pro League trophy. It is Connection’s fifth domestic league title; no team has ever won it as often.
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 1.Kevin Graham (GK); 13.Marvin Jones, 5.Devin Jordan, 6.Rodell Elcock, 17.Ross Russell Jr; 3.Keston Williams (captain), 8.Curtis Gonzales; 23.Kerry Joseph (15.Jerwyn Balthazar 56), 10.Josimar Belgrave, 30.Akeem Roach (31.Thurlani George 66); 9.Devorn Jorsling (7.Balondemu Julius 68).
Unused substitutes: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 14.Cory Rivers, 18.Sean Narcis, 16.Jamali Garcia.
Coach: Ross Russell
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), 7.Silvio Spann (40.Jomal Williams 76); 10.Joevin Jones; 12.Jerrel Britto (65.Neil Benjamin Jr 55), 14.Hashim Arcia, 20.Stefano Rijssel (19.Joel Russell 78).
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 13.Devaughn Elliot, 17.Jamal Clarence, 29.Jem Gordon.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Referee: Michael London
Digicel Pro League results
(Tue May 6)
Central FC 0, San Juan Jabloteh 0 at Couva;
W Connection 4 (Stefano Rijssel 4, Joevin Jones 32, 85, Hashim Arcia 38), Defence Force 1 (Josimar Belgrave 36) at Couva.[standings league_id=2 template=extend logo=true]