Guaya United maintained their two-point lead atop of the CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division yesterday with a 3-1 triumph over Police FC at the St James Barracks.
The league leaders sailed into a comfortable 2-nil first half lead after dominating and creating a host of chances, before being pegged back by a stunning Police free kick near the hour mark.
Guaya striker Carlon “Judgement” Hughes ensured that there was no reprisal for the lawmen though, as he notched his second goal of the game to seal the contest in the 65th minute.
Guaya, who won the Super League knockout trophy just over a month ago, came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, as they caused all manner of worries for Police shot-stopper Theon Browne and his defence.
Influential Guaya midfielder and skipper Ryan “Fry” Stewart brought the best out of the stocky Browne in the ninth minute, as he forced the keeper into an excellent save from a free kick just outside the area.
Hughes had another chance to open the scoring, just three minutes later, but he could not keep down his flying header. Instead, it was marauding midfielder Keylon Thomas who opened the scoring in Guaya’s very next move, as he sweetly lashed home from close range after a neat pass by Leroy Jones from the right flank.
Fry, Jones and playmaker Jody Allsop were strutting around the Barracks, as they mesmerised the Police players with their swift, short passes. Jones looked especially dangerous on the right wing and he gave left-back Keron Clarke more than a handful with his jinxing runs.
Clarke must have been wishing his name was on the work roster yesterday.
Jones looked odds-on to score in the 20th minute after slicing through the Police defence but his close range left-footed shot was somehow kept out by Browne.
Jones went agonisingly close again six minutes later as he spanked a shot off the post. But, this time, a gleeful Hughes was on hand to bury the rebound and register his 19th goal of the Premiership season.
Guaya continued to pepper Police’s goal and Thomas could have had a first half double if not for a headed goal line clearance in the 30th minute.
Guaya custodian Erskine Johnson was finally called into action just before half time as he responded brilliantly to stop a miscued clearance by his burly defender Beville Joseph. And Johnson had to be sharp again, in first half stoppage time, to acrobatically tip over a ferocious free kick by rugged Police centre-back Real Dedier.
Police showed a renewed sense of life at the start of the second half and Dedier again threatened from a set piece in the 51st minute, only to head wide.
Midfielder Colin Williams did better than merely getting his effort on target in the 61st minute, as he bent a right-footed beauty around the Guaya wall and into the goal from on top of the penalty box.
But Guaya restored their advantage after just four minutes, as Hughes expertly glanced a delicious right side free kick by Allsop into the far corner.
Police should have gotten another equaliser, two minutes later, but their top scorer Jason Boodram—who has 12 league goals to his name—inexplicably headed overbar from no more than three yards after a well-worked corner kick.
It might have been the striker’s easiest chance all season.
The 64th minute introduction of midfielder Keston Jordan had a calming effect in front of Guaya’s back four while Allsop and “Fry”—who was shifted to right flank—saw plenty of the ball at a key juncture of the game.
“Judgment” even had the chance to grab a hat-trick six, minutes from time, but Browne made an impressive to thwart his angled shot.
Hughes and his Guaya teammates can ill-afford to be too merry at Christmas time though as second placed Defence Force await in a pivotal clash at the turn of the new year.
Police (4-2-3-1): 22.Theon Browne (GK); 5.Osei Charles, 4.Real Dedier, 6.Kheon Archie, 8.Akiba Peters; 18.Keron Clarke (2.Nykell James 58), 13.Dwight Elliott; 9.Kenwin Matthew (26.Kwame Hazel 83), 44.Colin Williams, 25.Kernater Morris (21.Andel Andrews 47); 10.Jason Boodram (captain).
Unused Substitutes: 1.Kevin Charles (GK), 24.Kern Harris.
Coach: Chris Bailey
Guaya United (4-2-3-1): 1.Erskine Johnson (GK); 8.Kerdell Alfred, 19.Beville Joseph, 14.Sherlon Campbell, 20.Kerneal Hagley; 17.Ryan “Fry” Stewart (captain), 18.Keylon Thomas; 11.Leroy Jones, 7.Jody Allsop, 4.Kheelon Ferrier (25.Keston Jordan 64); 10.Carlon Hughes.
Unused Substitutes: 30.Daniel Hagley (GK), 3.Akeel Paul, 5.Russel Alfred, 6.Reon Moore, 24.Kendell Campbell, 35.Marvin Brown.
Coach: Akeno Morgan
Referee: Nigel Ramah
Man of the Match: Jody Allsop
CNG NSL Premiership Division results
(Sunday 13 December)
Bethel United 1 (Densyl James 43), Real Maracas FC 0, Montgomery Recreation Ground;
Tobago Phoenix 4 (Onasi Forde 28, 36, Shelton Williams 59, Che Richards 90), La Horquetta SA 0, Canaan Recreation Ground;
Stokely Vale FC 2 (Lashawn Roberts 67, 88), WASA FC 4 (Nathan Julien 29, 50, 74, Michael-Lee Celestine 54), Plymouth Recreation Ground;
Petrotrin Palo Seco 0, Club Sando Moruga 4 (Sharkell Louison 13, Nigel John 40, Glendon Phillip 83, Maurice Dick 90), Palo Seco Velodrome;
Police FC 1 (Colin Williams 61), Guaya United 3 (Keylon Thomas 13, Carlon Hughes 27, 65), St James Barracks;
Marabella Family Crisis Centre 0, Defence Force 1 (Michael Edwards 90), Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Matura Re United 0, FC Santa Rosa 0, Matura Recration Ground;
CNG NSL Premiership Division Standings
(Tabulated as Played-Won-Drew-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)
Guaya United 21-16-2-3-58-31-50
Defence Force 22-15-3-4-49-24-48
Tobago FC Phoenix 22-12-5-6-41-27-41
Mature Re United 21-10-5-6-40-37-35
WASA FC 23-10-4-9-35-25-34
FC Santa Rosa 22-9-6-7-35-31-33
Police FC 22-9-5-8-49-38-32
Siparia Spurs 21-8-7-6-47-51-31
Marabella F/Crisis 21-6-9-7-45-43-27
Petrotrin Palo Seco 21-7-5-9-39-42-26
Club Sando Moruga 21-7-5-9-34-38-26
Bethel United 22-6-2-14-27-42-20
La Horquetta SA 20-5-4-11-35-53-19
Real Maracas 22-4-3-15-23-47-15
Stokely Vale FC 22-3-6-13-22-50-15