Defending Pro League champions DIRECTV W Connection lost the chance for another piece of silverware, the Rawle Fletcher Cup, and a $35,000 cash prize last night as they were held 1-1 by a dogged San Juan Jabloteh team in a Marvin Lee Stadium doubleheader in Macoya.
The result meant that Connection’s Couva rivals, Central FC, took the award for finishing the first round in first place.
In the other Macoya fixture, North East Stars beat Caledonia AIA 2-1 to leapfrog the “Eastern Stallions” into third place in the Pro League standings.
Keron “Ballpest” Cummins must have been watched what teenaged Jabloteh striker Brent Sam did against Defence Force on Saturday as the diminutive Stars attacker conjured up something unforgettable against Caledonia.
In the fifth minute, Cummins picked up a pass some 30 yards away from goal and, with seemingly nothing on, he unleashed a demonic dipping shot that beat Caledonia’s Shemel Louison who had stolen some yards off his goal line. The “Cale” custodian was left clutching at air as Cummins’ effort sailed into the top corner.
Cristoper Mejia tried to manufacture something of his, own just three minutes later, but his curling long rage effort was easily corralled by Cleon John in the North East goal.
John did get some work, just moments later, as defender Kareem Richardson inexplicably hauled down Caledonia marksman Keyon Edwards in the box, right in front of referee Crystal Sobers. The Stars custodian got a hand to Caledonia captain Kareem “Tiny” Joseph’s penalty but the power on the shot was enough for it to cross the goalline. One-each after 15 minutes.
Stars sought to assume control of the game thereafter while Cale looked content to hit on the break.
Cummins and wide men Kennedy Hinkson and Jayson Joseph linked up well in the final third with some crisp passing and Joseph squandered a glorious opportunity to restore Stars’ lead in the 25th minute but failed to keep his volley down. Joseph may have felt slightly better about himself, just a minute later, as Caledonia player Trayon Bobb did the same at the other end.
There was definitely something behind the tackles in this affair and referee Sobers was quite lenient, as she often allowed play to go on. Sobers even spared Richardson and Edwards of punishment after the pair got reacquainted with a heated shoving match in the 38th minute.
And even though Stars looked the better team in the first half, they had John to thank for keeping parity as the big man saved a stinging left-footed drive from Bobb in the 44th minute after the Guyanese attacker tricked his way past a couple of opponents.
Stars thought they had taken the lead after a neat set piece routine in the 56th minute only for Glenton Wolfe’s finish to be ruled out for offside. It was debatable to say the least.
But there was no debating Russel Alfred’s goal two minutes later though as the striker converted an aerial pass that caught the Cale centre-halves napping.
“Call offside now nah,” shouted the Stars supporters.
Speedy Caledonia winger Nathan Lewis tried to muster up another quick response for his team after a penetrating run only for John to stop his dangerous low drive.
Lewis’ electrifying pace and directness was Cale’s best chance and the Stallions introduced Pernell Schultz and Julio Noel to regain their ebb and flow.
Noel and Lewis did indeed show some sparks of life in the last 15 minutes for Caledonia but the “Eastern Stallions” just could not produce that final product. Edwards forced John into a reflex save in the 81st minute but that was as close as Cale got to beating the occasional Trinidad and Tobago international goalkeeper from open play.
And it ended 2-1 to Stars coach Angus Eve.
Connection looked to be walking away with all three points in the second encounter after an ambitious long range effort from Devaughn Elliot but Jabloteh substitute Garth Thomas had other ideas as his 89th minute header ensured that the teams shared the spoils. And the Rawle Fletcher Cup went to Central.
North East Stars (4-1-3-2): 22.Cleon John(GK) (captain); 3.Kareem Richardson, 14.Dwane James, 15.Glenton Wolffe, Keryn Navarro; 44.Kion Joseph (8.Adrian Noel 72); 12.Jayson Jospeh, 18.Kaashif Thomas (6.Jeromie Williams 68), 23.Kennedy Hinkson [YC], 7.Russel Alfred (35.Jordan Devonish 80); 10.Keron Cummins.
Unused Substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 5.Aquil Selby, 40.Jomoul Francois, 42.Taryk Sampson.
Coach: Angus Eve
Caledonia AIA (4-2-2-2): 1.Shemel Louison (GK); 12.Kareem Joseph (captain), 16.Pierre Hitner, 20.Rogelio Robinson (19.Julio Noel 75), 22.Jameel Neptune; 4.Cristoper Mejia, 8.Keron Bethelmy; 18.Trayon Bobb (10.Hayden Tinto 57), 27.Nathan Lewis, 9. Keyon Edwards; 32. Kyle Bartholomew (28.Pernell Schultz 62).
Referee: Crystal Sobers
Pro League results
(Tuesday January 13)
North East Stars 2 (Keron Cummins 5, Russel Alfred 57), Caledonia AIA 1 (Kareem Joseph 15 penalty) at Macoya;
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Garth Thomas 89), W Connection 1 (Devaughn Elliot 10) at Macoya.