A low shot from just outside the opposing penalty area by Jamaican midfielder Keithy Simpson breathed life back into the 2016/17 Pro League race last night, as mid-table outfit, Club Sando, held leaders and defending champions, Central FC, 1-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
It was only the second time in 10 games that Central, who are still unbeaten in the league, have dropped points this season. And second placed W Connection did not let the opportunity pass them by, as they whipped Police FC 3-1 in the second game of the Couva double header.
The results meant that Central’s lead atop the standings dropped from six to four points. And the blip might add a touch more anxiety for the “Couva Sharks”, who are at loggerheads with the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team technical staff at present.
Central managing director Brent Sancho, a former World Cup 2006 defender, infuriated current national coach Tom Saintfiet, during the week, by sticking to the FIFA rulebook and refusing to hand over his players—goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and midfielders Sean De Silva and Nathaniel Garcia—on anything more than a limited basis for training.
Saintfiet allowed Pro League clubs to use their national players yesterday and De Silva opened the scoring for the Sharks after just six minutes. But Central could not hold off Sando who fought back to level the game with a controlled strike by Simpson.
Connection, who provided more players to the international side than any other Pro League club, had an altogether different approach to their Couva rivals. Head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier stuck to his long-standing principle of using the players who train regularly with his club.
So, the “Savonetta Boys” opted not to use their national call-ups of captain and playmaker Hughtun Hector, flanker Aikim Andrews and defenders Daneil Cyrus and Maurice Forde.
And, ironically, it was Connection who flourished last night as Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 captain Jabari Mitchell took advantage of a rare start to grab his first goal of the season while Suriname attacker Dimitrie Apai and Shackiel Henry got the other items in a 13 minute second half offensive burst.
Connection have more goal getters than any other club this season with 12 different scorers while Police FC are next with 10 and third placed San Juan Jabloteh and second from bottom Morvant Caledonia United are next with nine.
Kareem Freitas, who was hampered by injury at the start of the season, got his first item of the campaign for Police in the 78th minute. But it was no more than a consolation item for the “Lawmen”, who remain in seventh place with a lead of just one point over St Ann’s Rangers.
Rangers play Morvant Caledonia from 3.30pm on Sunday at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella while fourth placed Ma Pau Stars tackle table proppers, Point Fortin Civic, from 4pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium and sixth placed Defence Force play Jabloteh from 6pm at the same venue.
Pro League results
(Friday 16 December)
Club Sando 1 (Keithy Simpson 67), Central FC 1 (Sean De Silva 6) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Police FC 1 (Kareem Freitas 78), W Connection 3 (Dimitrie Apai 53, Jabari Mitchell 60, Shackiel Henry 66) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Sunday 18 December)
Morvant Caledonia vs St Ann’s Rangers, 3.30pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Ma Pau Stars vs Point Fortin, 4pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Defence Force vs San Juan Jabloteh, 6pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.
Standings (Tabulated as Won-Drawn-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)
Central FC 11-9-2-0-24-11-29
W Connection 11-8-1-2-32–11-25
S/Juan Jabloteh 10-6-1-3-19-13-19
Ma Pau Stars 10-4-2-4-18-18-14
Club Sando 11-4-2-5-19-20-14
Defence Force 10-4-1-5-16-17-13
Police FC 11-3-3-5-23-22-12
S/A Rangers 10-3-2-5-13-17-11
M’vt Caledonia 10-1-4-5-15-21-7
Point Fortin 10-0-2-8-9–38-2