San Juan Jabloteh returned to winning ways on Friday evening at the Hasely Crawford Stadium with a 2-0 win over an uninspired Club Sando outfit. It was the first victory in four matches for the San Juan Kings, which leave them six points off league leaders Central FC.
In the earlier encounter in the Pro League double header, basement battlers Courts Morvant Caledonia United (MCU) and Point Fortin Civic settled for a share of the points after a 2-2 tie.
A double from in-form Point Fortin marksman Jamille Boatswain, almost handed the southern strugglers their first win of the season but MCU rallied with an equaliser from veteran Kareem “Tiny” Joseph to take a point.
MCU’s four draws this season is a Pro League high. While in their last outing against Defence Force, Point Fortin conceded seven goals which was more than they had scored for the entire season up until that point.
But in Boatswain, Point Fortin at least had a threat at the other end as well. Boatswain scored both goals in the 7-2 loss to the Army/Coast Guard combination and, midway through the first half, he showed his poaching instincts as he squeezed a rebound past helpless MCU goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
It didn’t take long for the “Eastern Stallions” to find a reply though. Jameel Neptune jinxed his way down the left flank before playing a low cross to Holder who stole a march on his marker Rondell Phillip before calmly bulging the net.
Cue inspired celebrations… Or maybe not.
From the sullen reactions of the Morvant Caledonia players, you might have guessed that they were the ones who had conceded. Attacker Kordell Samuel was certainly not happy as he chastised his teammates for not playing a pass sooner.
There was a more animated response to the game’s second goal but that was at MCU’s expense. And new Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet could not have been impressed with Phillip’s part in the item.
The Soca Warriors goalkeeper knocked the ball straight on to Boatswain’s boot, just two yards from the goal line, to give Point Fortin an easy task of restoring their lead.
The beleaguered MCU had the final word, though, as Joseph scored following a penalty box scramble to ensure a 2-2 finish in the bottom of the table contest.
Higher up the table, Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey sent his San Juan Kings out in an unusual 3-3-3-1 formation, as they tried to maintain pressure on leaders Central FC and second placed W Connection.
And it was all Jabloteh from the kick off, as their wing-backs, Kion Joseph and Jerome McIntyre seemed to operated in oceans of space to run on to long diagonal passes from central defenders Jevon Morris and Josiah Trimmingham.
In one flowing move, Kennedy Hinkson weaved his way through a few defenders before lofting an inviting pass for an onrushing Trimmingham to run onto. But the latter’s effort cannoned off the base of the post.
Trimmingham was injured in the process and had to be replaced by Elijah Manners. But his departure did little to stem the Jabloteh tide.
And Manners created Jabloteh’s opener, after a pass from Morris, as his whipped cross was finished at the far post by Brent Sam, whose swopping effort thundered in off the underside of the crossbar.
Sando coach Angus Eve, who led Naparima College to the SSFL Big Four final some hours earlier, tried to rally his troops from the sidelines. But his hopes seemed pinned on a flash of magic from the Pro League’s leading scorer, Akeem Roach—who scored seven times from his first nine matches.
Jabloteh, arguably, were dominating every part of the field. Yet, Roach was excellent and at the heart of anything that Sando created in their solar orange uniforms.
At times, Roach must have wished that he could have cloned himself. Time after time, he made space down either flank and whipped in inviting crosses around the Jabloteh area. But, ironically, the only person with the energy and alertness to get at the end of those crosses would have been Roach himself.
Jabloteh always looked likely to double their lead and they almost did so in the 69th minute. But it came at a price.
Hinkson swooped in to try to convert a knock down in the box, following a corner kick, but Sando custodian Kelvin Henry was quicker to the ball. The diminutive Hinkson stumbled over the goalkeeper and, sickeningly, his momentum took him head first into the post.
The collision prompted concerned reactions on the field and in the stands. And, after lengthy delays, Hinkson was stretchered off the field in a neck brace and replaced by Tyrone Charles.
Henry, who appeared to have damaged his shoulder in the same collision, was replaced by Stefan Berkley.
It didn’t take Charles long to get into the action either. After a similar build up to the first goal, Charles was left unmarked at the far post and, with the help of a kind deflection, beat Berkley to score Jabloteh’s second and bag the three points in the process.
Jabloteh will now hope for a favourable result in the “Couva Clasico” contest on Monday 12 December as Central and W Connection face off from 6.30pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
San Juan Jabloteh (3-3-3-1): 30.Shemel Louison (GK); 18.Jevon Morris, 6.Akeem Benjamin, 17.Josiah Trimmingham (5.Elijah Manners); 15.Jerome Mc Intyre, 11.Damian Williams (C), 12.Kion Joseph; 17.Nathan Lewis, 23.Kennedy Hinkson (10.Tyrone Charles), 16.Brent Sam; 7.Jamal Gay (9.Willis Plaza).
Unused Substitutes: 35.Andrew Durant (GK), 4.Keston Julien, 8.Keyon Edwards, 21.Aquil Selby.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Club Sando (4-2-3-1): 34.Kelvin Henry (GK) (1.Stefan Berkley); 23.Nicholas Thomas, 18.Trevin Latapy, 19.Leslie Joel Russel (C),6.Kemuel Rivers; 27.Jayson Joseph, 17.Jared London; 5.Nical Stephens (16.Anderson Toussaint), 9.Keron Cornwall (10.Shaquille Holder), 8.Kevon Piper; 13.Akeem Roach.
Unused Substitutes: 4.Amritt Gildharry, 12.Michael Basdeo, 15.Kaashif Thomas, 21.Sharkeel Donatien.
Coach: Angus Eve
Wired868 Man of the Match: Damian Williams (San Juan Jabloteh)
Pro League results
(Friday 9 December)
Morvant Caledonia Utd 2 (Sheldon Holder 43, Kareem Joseph 60), Point Fortin Civic 2 (Jamille Boatswain 34, 46) at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Brent Sam 50, Tyrone Charles 71), Club Sando 0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
(Monday 12 December)
Naparima College vs Presentation College (San F’do), 4.15pm, SSFL Big Four, Ato Boldon Stadium;
W Connection vs Central FC, 6.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Tuesday 13 December)
St Ann’s Rangers vs Defence Force, 6pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Police FC vs Ma Pau Stars, 8pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Standings (Tabulated as Won-Drawn-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)
Central FC 9-8-1-0-21-9-25
W Connection 9-7-1-1-28–8-22
S/Juan Jabloteh 10-6-1-3-19-13-19
Ma Pau Stars 9-4-1-4-14-14-13
Club Sando 10-4-1-5-18-19-13
Police FC 9-3-2-4-18-15-11
S/A Rangers 9-3-2-4-13-15-11
Defence Force 9-3-1-5-14-17-10
M’vt Caledonia 10-1-4-5-15-21-7
Point Fortin 10-0-2-8-9–38-2