Twenty-five year old winger Nathan Lewis maintained his remarkable hot streak yesterday with a goal in his fifth successive Pro League outing for San Juan Jabloteh. But, this time, it was not enough for the “San Juan Kings” as they were held 1-1 by table proppers St Ann’s Rangers at the Barataria Recreation Ground in Barataria.
The result meant Jabloteh missed a golden opportunity to leapfrog second placed DIRECT W Connection and, at least temporarily, take hold of one from two available spots for the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League qualifying series.
The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force were not as wasteful, as the Army/Coast Guard combination pulled off a late 2-1 win over Point Fortin Civic to climb from third to second spot.
Elsewhere in Guayaguayare, Club Sando and Morvant Caledonia United battled to a 2-2 draw, which kept the two clubs in seventh and eighth place respectively in the 10-team table.
At present, defending champions Bankers Insurance Central FC lead the standings—despite a loss to Police FC on April 1—with 46 points from 21 games. Defence Force, Connection and Jabloteh, who have played 22 league matches, are next with 42, 40 and 39 points respectively.
With five matches remaining in the 2015/16 Pro League season—six for Central FC and Club Sando—the tone is set for a tense gripping conclusion for the two coveted top spots.
Lewis has been key to Jabloteh’s ambitions in their Champions League chase.
Coach Keith Jeffrey criticised “Soca Warriors” coach Stephen Hart for leaving the pacy winger out of a fully local-based team that drew 2-2 with Grenada. It was a clumsily made point—which he made by criticising another selection, Jerwyn Balthazar, who does not play in Lewis’ role—but one with merit.
Lewis has seven goals from Jabloteh’s last five successive matches and three of those were match winners.
His return on the uneven surface of the Barataria Recreation Ground is even more impressive. Jabloteh scored four times in three games in Barataria. Lewis scored all four.
But Rangers, who headed to Barataria on the back of five straight losses, were not daunted.
Coach Angus Eve, who led North East Stars to the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy title, might be tempted to question his impact at Rangers when he looks at the standings. Yet, four of Rangers’ last five defeats were by a solitary goal and they were due an upset.
Jabloteh, who were without the services of veteran midfielder Marvin Oliver due to a back injury, lacked the guile necessary to take Rangers apart.
Utility player Trevin Latapy put the St Ann’s team ahead in the 38th minute and it was not until the 88th minute that Jabloteh bundled in an equaliser, which predictably came from Lewis.
“Jah, Rangers!” shouted frustrated Rangers midfielder Keron Cornwall, at the final whistle. “Jah!”
It was a commendable and sometimes feisty effort from a club that is five points adrift at the bottom of the standings.
At the other end, the “Soldier Boys” are making their move.
Pro League results
(Saturday April 2)
Club Sando 2 (Devon Modeste 24, 27), Morvant Caledonia United 2 (Pernell Schultz 47, Kareem Joseph 83) at Guayaguayare Recreation Ground;
Point Fortin Civic 1 (Akeem Redhead 56), Defence Force 2 (Kellon Serrette 28, Akeem Roach 89) at Mahaica Oval;
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Nathan Lewis 88), St Ann’s Rangers 1 (Trevin Latapy 38) at Barataria Recreation Ground;
(Friday April 1)
Police FC 1 (Kaydion Gabriel OG 39), Central FC 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
W Connection 1 (Shahdon Winchester 13), North East Stars 3 (Ryan Stewart 26 FK, Gorean Highley 70, 81) at Ato Boldon Stadium;