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Connection KOs Stars; Central, Cale and Police make Pro Bowl progress

Defending Digicel Pro Bowl champions DIRECTV W Connection enjoyed a revenge of sorts over North East Stars last night as the “Savonetta Boys” romped to a 4-0 quarterfinal round win at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Photo: W Connection players (from left) Neil Benjamin Jr, Shahdon Winchester, Hashim Arcia and Triston Hodge celebrate during their 4-0 Pro Bowl quarterfinal win over North East Stars at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection players (from left) Neil Benjamin Jr, Shahdon Winchester, Hashim Arcia and Triston Hodge celebrate during their 4-0 Pro Bowl quarterfinal win over North East Stars at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Stars edged Connection on penalties in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final on March 29 in which Connection chairman David John-Williams said his team was “playing under protest” due to the latter team’s use of striker Gorean “Ratty” Highley, who joined the club after the January transfer window.

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) official Sharon O’Brien told Wired868 that its Disciplinary Committee ruled on behalf of Stars on Thursday evening.

There was no Highley and no encore either for Stars last night as they were brushed aside by Connection with consummate ease in Couva.

Connection will face Caledonia AIA in next Friday’s semifinal after the “Eastern Stallions” held on for a deserved 1-0 win over Point Fortin Civic at the same venue.

Civic attacker Marcus Joseph missed the knock out fixture due to injury and Point Fortin was largely toothless as a result. While Caledonia playmaker Keyon Edwards and winger Nathan Lewis were too much for the opposing defence.

The goal came out of left field. Caledonia left back, Jameel Neptune, wriggled past Civic’s Ronell Paul and drove an inviting cross into the penalty area, which was expertly headed in by Guyanese international winger Trayon Bobb to settle the affair in the 40th minute.

Photo: Caledonia AIA attacker Keyon Edwards (centre) takes on Police FC defender Jasimar Ashers during a previous Pro League contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Caledonia AIA attacker Keyon Edwards (centre) takes on Police FC defender Jasimar Ashers during a previous Pro League contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Elsewhere in Macoya, Police FC came from a goal behind to eliminate San Juan Jabloteh in another quarterfinal fixture.

Tyrone Charles put Jabloteh ahead in the 10th minute but Police captain Todd Ryan pulled the unfancied “Lawmen” level in the 27th minute before striker Makesi Lewis continued his prolific form with a 66th minute winner.

Police will face Central FC in Friday’s other semifinal match after the “Couva Sharks” edged Defence Force 1-0, courtesy of a second half Willis Plaza strike.

There was no need for the Connection staff to chew on fingernails last night.

Only Central conceded less league goals than Connection and Stars this season and there was every expectation that, like their goalless FA final meeting, another dour contest was on the cards in the Pro Bowl.

The problem for Stars coach Angus Eve was that Connection scored first and the Sangre Grande-based team is not built to overpower teams offensively. Only St Ann’s Rangers scored less than Stars’ 25 league goals from 24 outings.

Photo: North East Stars utility player Dwane James (centre) blasts W Connection attacker Jomal Williams (right) out of the sky while Keryn Navarro looks on. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars utility player Dwane James (centre) blasts W Connection attacker Jomal Williams (right) out of the sky while Keryn Navarro looks on.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

If it is any consolation, Connection’s opener, which came courtesy of the free-scoring Jerrel Britto, was good enough to settle any fixture.

Hashim Arcia lofted an incisive diagonal ball into Britto’s path as he cut in off the right flank in the 40th minute. Britto took it on his chest and accelerated past Stars defender Glenton Wolfe, in one fluid move, before hammering an angled half volley into the far corner from just inside the penalty area.

Presumably, the Connection media team will be editing another highlight video this weekend.

The ever-spritely Stars defender-cum-attacker Kennedy Hinkson forced a sprawling save from Connection custodian Julani Archibald in the 48th minute, while playmaker Keron Cummings forced two awkward blocks from Archibald with ferocious angled strikes of fine technique.

But Cummings and Hinkson were swimming against the tide and Stars should have gone further behind, midway through the second half, as Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester wasted two good opportunities.

Connection Stuart Charles-Fevrier did not regret Winchester’s misses for long though. But it might take some time for Eve to shake off yesterday’s closing 15 minutes.

Photo: North East Stars attacker Kennedy Hinkson (right) tries to outrun W Connection defender and captain Mekeil Williams during last night's Pro Bowl quarterfinal fixture. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars attacker Kennedy Hinkson (right) tries to outrun W Connection defender and captain Mekeil Williams during last night’s Pro Bowl quarterfinal fixture.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Stars defender Dwane James, who made his international debut against Panama at the same Couva venue two months ago, was on the edge of his own penalty area and with no defensive cover when he tried to flick the ball over the head of Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr in the 75th minute. It would have been a crazy trick even if it had worked. But it didn’t. Not properly anyway.

Benjamin got a touch on the ball and James tried to correct his impetuousness with a flick back to his goalkeeper. But that too was short. Britto pounced but, at full stretch, guided the ball wide.

James would not escape his next error though. Connection captain Mekeil Williams tried a long range shot but got neither venom nor direction on his attempt. It went straight to James but popped clumsily off his boot.

Britto was there again to take advantage again and, this time, James hauled him back. Referee Rodphin Harris was left with a straightforward decision and Williams made no mistake from the penalty spot.

Eve had seen enough and James, who is the elder brother of stand-out national midfielder Kevin Molino, was promptly substituted. God knows what Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart might have been thinking as he looked on from the stands.

Photo: North East Stars defender Dwane James (far left) prepares to haul back W Connection striker Jerrel Britto (second from left) while Stars players Kaashif Thomas (far right) and Keryn Navarro look on. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars defender Dwane James (far left) prepares to haul back W Connection striker Jerrel Britto (second from left) while Stars players Kaashif Thomas (far right) and Keryn Navarro look on.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Molino has already been ruled out of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup through injury. If James fails to win a Gold Cup place, it might be for a much more avoidable reason than that.

Eve moved Trinidad and Tobago national youth defender Jesus Perez from left back to replace James and was almost immediately let down. This time, Perez tried to execute a pirouette near the half-line with no defensive cover and Arcia stripped him before sauntering into the opposing area to roll the ball past John at his near post.

In stoppage time, the misery was complete as Arcia got his double with a simple finish from point blank range after a right side Shannon Gomez cross.

It was curtains for Stars’ 2014/15 season. They do still have that FA Trophy as consolation though.

Connection, who are trophy-less at the moment, still have the Pro Bowl and Caribbean Cup titles to contest. It would take something uncharacteristically special from Caledonia to halt the Savonetta Boys’ progress next Friday.

(Teams)

W Connection (4-2-1-3): 18.Julani Archibald (GK); 39.Alvin Jones, 19.Joel Russell, 5.Mekeil Williams, 36.Triston Hodge; 3.Gerard Williams, 8.Yhon Reyes (27.Shannon Gomez 67); 14.Hashim Arcia; 12.Jerrel Britto (11.Tremain Paul 80), 9.Shahdon Winchester, 40.Jomal Williams (65.Neil Benjamin Jr 67).

Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 2.Kurt Frederick, 21.Maleik De Freitas-Gray, 26.Maurice Ford.

Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier

 

North East Stars (4-3-2-1): 22.Cleon John (GK); 14.Dwane James (35.Jordan Devonish 85), 5.Aquil Selby, 15.Glenton Wolfe (18.Kaashif Thomas 30), 38.Jesus Perez; 25.Keryn Navarro, 12.Jayson Joseph (26.Zavion Navarro 87), 41.Neveal Hackshaw (7.Kadeem Hutchinson 67); 44.Keon Joseph; 10.Keron Cummings, 23.Kennedy Hinkson.

Unused substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 6.Jeromie Williams, 42.Taryk Sampson.

Coach: Angus Eve

 

Referee: Rodphin Harris

Photo: W Connection playmaker Hashim Arcia (right) dribbles past SAP FC captain Kerry Parker during 2015 Caribbean Club Championship action. (Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection playmaker Hashim Arcia (right) dribbles past SAP FC captain Kerry Parker during 2015 Caribbean Club Championship action.
(Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)

Digicel Pro Bowl 2015

Quarterfinal Round

(Fri 8 May)

Caledonia AIA 1 (Trayon Bobb 42), Point Fortin Civic 0 at Couva;

W Connection 4 (Jerrel Britto 40, Mekeil Williams 79 pen, Hashim Arcia 86, 90), North East Stars 0 at Couva;

Police FC 2 (Todd Ryan 27, Makesi Lewis 66), San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Tyrone Charles 10) at Macoya;

Defence Force 0, Central FC 1 (Willis Plaza 66) at Macoya;

 

Semifinal Round
(Friday 15 May)

Caledonia AIA vs W Connection

Central FC vs Police FC

 

Final
(Fri 29 May)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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20 comments

  1. Bet Hart wishes he can pick a fit Yorke or Latapy. Lol. He has to work with what he has and the numbers are shrinking every week.

  2. Can’t see either of those guys fitting into Coach Hart’s plan.

  3. Yeah he definitely has the raw materials.

  4. I would say he is best in central midfield. In part because his moments of madness can be a liability at the back. But he is athletic and has good feet.
    I’m not convinced yet that he is serious enough about his profession to warrant an international place though. Even though he has the raw materials.

  5. Or okay cool. His versatility may very well hamper him in the end. He plays so many positions but which one is he best at?

  6. Roneil K Walcott, Dwane started at right back. Then there was an early injury to Glenton and he moved into central defence.

  7. I think once Arcia is in good physical condition, he is an option. But these guys need warm-up games to try and get accustomed to the pace of the international game.

  8. I won’t disagree with you there Roneil K Walcott but again so are many other footballers. My team still gotta keep their eyes on him if both make it into the finals.

  9. So Dwane played at RB Lasana ?

  10. Hashim is quality, but can also be inconsistent.

  11. Will there be a semifinal upset? Or are we destined for a Connection v Central final?

  12. Arcia got called up for the last national game but didn’t play cause of an injury.
    And thanks Allan V. Crane!

  13. …Uncle Earl Mango Pierre…Arcia is a natural goalscorer…but another player that could force his way into coach Stephen Hart’s plans is Jerrel Britto

  14. I honestly don’t believe the selectors of the squad pays close attention to our Pro League as the supporters do. Mr. Earl Mango Pierre, your so right with your saying “them really good yes”

  15. Everyone can’t make it! Who knows maybe Hart has is favorites. We’ll never understand the true mafia politics with football. For instance I’m a Central FC fan and when Benjamin got called up I was surprised because he makes so much mistakes in the back. Gabriel was deserving of a call up and they didn’t choose him.

  16. Alana Allan so if Hashim Arcia is so phenomenal how come he isn’t on our National team for the Gold Cup maybe he is the one that should be replacing Kevin Nash Molino. Them really good yes.

  17. “Presumably, the Connection media team will be editing another highlight video this weekend.” I actually loled! Looking forward to seeing the reel as usual. Hahaha. Great read as usual Burd.

  18. Central’s defense gotta keep their eyes on Hashim Arcia providing there’s a Clasico finals. The guy is simply phenomenal!

  19. W- Connection needs to take this corrupted TTFA for that injustice to the real court house and they will definitely win this case. TTFA really good yes.