Morvant Caledonia United bared their new dentures on the opening game of the 2016/17 Pro League season with a 3-1 win over Point Fortin Civic last night, as the front three of Kordell Samuel, Jair “Sam” Edwards and Jameel “Shotta” Neptune was too much for the hosts at Mahaica Oval.
Samuel and “Sam” Edwards—introducing “Sam-Sam”—offered pace and incision, “Shotta” provided composure and Civic managed little resistance in response. Forget “XXX”; on this evidence, the “Triple S” will be entertaining viewing this season.
At least one supporter got more than he paid for after winning the new Samsung Galaxy Note in a mid-game competition. Arguably, it was the toughest contest of the night.
Five spectators presented themselves in a competition that saw each kicker being spun four times by the “Digicel girls” before kicking into an open net from 20 yards. But two kickers in particular—one young man from Santa Cruz and another from Arima—were not playing around. In vain, announcer Wayne Cunningham took the kickers back 40 yards from goal. And then to the half line. Then, improbably, to midway into the opposing half.
Eventually, the Digicel girls had to be rested as the two young men went into a sudden death shoot out. And the Santa Cruz visitor won.
Maybe Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart should offer Samsung handsets to his attackers for the upcoming CONCACAF Hex.
But it was not all fun and games at Mahaica Oval, as the Pro League was left red faced after lights went out midway through the curtain raiser between San Juan Jabloteh and Club Sando.
Jabloteh were leading 1-0 through a first half goal from teenaged debutante Keston Julien. And, by the time lighting was restored, the referee had blown off the match.
The Pro League has no available rules on its website that deal with such occurrences while even FIFA is vague and pass the buck to the various football leagues to handle such abandonments/postponements as they see fit.
It means the relevant Pro League must decide whether they play the remaining 42 minutes with the score at 1-0. Or if they start over at goalless and play the full 90 minutes. And even decide on what venue would host the replay or conclusion of the contest.
Things were more straightforward for the second affair between Point Fortin and Morvant Caledonia.
“Teesdale, I feel you took off the lights,” Morvant Caledonia goalkeeper and ex-Civic employee Marvin Phillip teased opposing forward Sylvester “Son Son” Teesdale before kick off.
“You know I must put it back on to shine on you,” Teesdale replied, with a smile.
Phillip and Teesdale would have their moment during the contest. But, for the first 30 minutes, they barely caught sight of each other. It was all Morvant Caledonia.
Within 58 seconds, visiting captain Akim Armstrong stung the palms of Civic custodian Miles Goodman with a low drive. And there would be no respite as Caledonia eventually went ahead in the fifth minute as Neptune cushioned a half volley past Goodman after a Samuel cross.
On the bench, new “Eastern Stallions” head coach Rajesh Latchoo and his assistant Abdallah Phillips exchanged their first high five of the season.
At times, it looked as if Civic coach Dick Furlonge had put out 11 cones to represent the community that was once a reservoir of football talent.
Maybe that should be 10 cones. Civic midfielder Akeem Redhead was certainly king of his own castle—although Furlonge had him marooned on the right flank.
Poor Morvant Caledonia left back Taje Commissiong, a La Horquetta resident, would not have fond memories of Point Fortin, as Redhead gave him a torrid time. And central defender Otev Lawrence’s attempt to help his colleague only made things worse, as he clattered into Redhead to concede a penalty in the 30th minute.
Teesdale versus Phillip Part II. And the hometown star found the right response this time, as he lifted the ball to the left of the Soca Warriors goalkeeper to tie scores at 1-1.
Buoyed by a small but appreciative crowd—there were roughly 500 patrons spread around the ground—Civic showed signs of ambition now with Nigerian striker Kehinde Adeshigbin, a tall and mobile frontman, a constant threat with his movement.
Latchoo suggested that Samuel’s early success in the channels had prompted his squad to stray from the game plan.
“The opportunities came up for Kordell to penetrate and it was good,” Latchoo told Wired868. “But every time he wanted it in the channel and it took away from our flowing passing game and started to play into their hands.
“I think after we gave away the penalty, we gave them life. And then the crowd got into it.”
It might have been worse for Morvant Caledonia, as Adeshigbin found space to run on to a Shevon Abraham pass in the 54th minute. But, from a slight angle, he tried to beat Phillip at his near post and found that the Trinidad and Tobago international was too streetwise for him.
Redhead also got a peek at goal, after dribbling in off the right flank, but shot straight at Phillip.
“We had opportunities to go ahead with the game but didn’t convert,” said Furlonge, “and that is what the game is about. If you throw away, it will come back to haunt you.”
Civic had their moments. But there was little doubt as to who the better team on the night was. And order was restored in the 55th minute through the Sam-Sam combination.
Samuel got away from towering opposing central defender Shane Garraway and crossed towards “Sam” at the back post. And, in a carbon copy of Morvant Caledonia’s opener, the Civic full back failed to track the movement of his winger to allow for a simple finish, as Edwards nodded home to make it 2-1.
There could be no argument about the third goal as veteran Kareem “Tiny” Joseph got a free kick to climb, bend and dip into the top right hand corner. The Civic wall and goalkeeper were nothing but bystanders.
“As we move on you will see improvement in the team,” said Furlonge. “We have a young team. A lot of them are inexperienced [at this level]…
“But I think the guys tried well and we will go from strength to strength.”
Morvant Caledonia got the early points though, as Latchoo credited his team’s effort and craft on the night.
The farcical lighting episode apart, it was a decent spectacle for the fans who turned up. And especially so for a Santa Cruz supporter who left with a new Samsung device.
Point Fortin Civic (4-4-1-1): 22.Miles Goodman (GK); 13.Shevon Abraham, 3.Kurfi Pierre (23.Shaquille Stewart 73), 6.Shane Garraway, 2.Ancil Wells; 8.Akeem Redhead (captain), 12.Rondel Phillip, 14.Nicarlom Turton, 17.Kestwin Goolie (4.Keron Neptune 76); 9.Sylvester Teesdale; 19.Kehinde Adeshigbin (16.Tyrell Johnson 73).
Unused substitutes: 21.Callum Marshall (GK), 11.Shaquille Dublin, 24.Austin Hernandez.
Coach: Dick Furlonge
Morvant Caledonia United (4-1-2-3): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 12.Kareem Joseph, 5.Seon Thomas, 15.Otev Lawrence, 6.Taje Commissiong (16.Amos Ramsay 71); 18.Maestro Mensah; 17.Akim Armstrong (captain), 21.Densill Theobald; 9.Jair Edwards (13.Jordan Devonish 78), 7.Kordell Samuel (14.Keron Bethelmy 82), 22.Jameel Neptune.
Unused substitutes: 30.Stephon Seepersad (GK), 2.Kevin Layne, 8.Anthony Charles, 11.Dominic Douglas.
Coach: Rajesh Latchoo
Referee: Cecile Hinds
Man of the Match: Jair “Sam” Edwards
Pro League results
(Friday 30 September)
Club Sando 0, San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Keston Julien 14) at Mahaica Oval;
*–Match blown off after 48 minutes due to lighting problem
Point Fortin Civic 1 (Sylvester Teesdale 31 pen), Morvant Caledonia Utd 3 (Jameel Neptune 5, Jair Edwards 55, Kareem Joseph 65) at Mahaica Oval.
(Sunday 2 October)
Defence Force vs St Ann’s Rangers, 3.30pm, Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar;
(Tuesday 4 October)
Ma Pau Stars vs Police FC, 6pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Central FC vs W Connection, 8pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium.