Terminix La Horquetta Rangers coach Dave ‘Hoghead’ Quamina, for once, was not readily available for an interview after Wednesday night’s 4-1 win over Prison Service FC in their Ascension Invitational Tournament fixture at Phase Two in La Horquetta.
Quamina was not the only person missing in action. Rangers’ 20-man outfit was whittled down to 15 players yesterday. Goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel and full back Ross Russell are on international duty with Trinidad and Tobago while flanker Kennedy Hinkson is with the Grenada National Senior Team. And in-form forward Jomoul Francois and defender Keion Goodridge were injured.
Still, there were a few raised eyebrows when assistant coach Keyon ‘Bobo’ Edwards ran out with Rangers’ starting team and played the full opening 45 minutes.
Edwards gave a fairly competent display alongside Tyrone Charles upfront, mind you. But one could only speculate about what substitutes like Keron ‘Ballpest’ Cummings and Kishon Hackshaw—only recently international players at senior and youth level respectively—made of that line-up jiggle.
The Rangers franchise, now spearheaded by Terminix director Richard Ferguson, has raised the bar for Pro League teams off the field with an impressive $5.3 million renovation of the La Horquetta venue and the $2.5 million Ascension-sponsored competition, which is featured in a half-hour show produced by Wired868 and aired on FlowSport every Wednesday night.
But one senses that the defining moment for the Rangers product on the field is still to come, even after a tournament-high 25 goals scored in six matches—which is five more items than Defence Force managed, despite the Army/Coast Guard combination playing two games more.
On Saturday evening, Rangers face the only team in the competition with a 100 per cent record, Morvant Caledonia AIA, and it is hard to ignore the fact that both of their meetings with Pro League opposition so far ended goalless.
Are Rangers—a team stuffed with so much talent that they could afford to offload current Soca Warriors defender Carlyle Mitchell without offering him a minute’s playing time—the real deal? Or flat track bullies?
There was never going to be an answer to that question last night, as Rangers hosted table proppers and Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) outfit, Prison Service FC. But without Francois’ sharp, probing runs and Russell’s marauding overlaps, the La Horquetta team lacked some fizz.
Front man Tyrone Charles has not scored since his hattrick against Matura ReUnited in their opening Ascension Invitational fixture—or, perhaps more pertinently, since Defence Force custodian Aaron Enill kept out his penalty in a goalless draw on Saturday 17 August.
Cummings too has looked off colour. Instead of driving past players or looking for the ball between the opposing midfield and defensive lines or behind the opposing back four, the gifted ball handler is straying too often into non-threatening areas of the field to take possession.
At least last night saw the tournament favourites return to winning ways.
The game was just six minutes old when lanky captain Jamal Creighton, a centre-forward-cum-holding midfielder, opened the scoring with a neat finish after a flowing move that featured a clever Charles backheel.
Charles might have had a goal himself in the 21st minute but blasted into the side netting, after a through ball from his coach, Edwards.
Rangers doubled their lead anyway in the 22nd minute, as the lively Kadeem Corbin tapped home from close range after an Aikim Andrews cross. It was Corbin’s third item of the season and his trickery in possession has already made him a hit with La Horquetta supporters.
Rangers got two more items after the interval, as Creighton executed another assured finish while Cummings got in on the action with a straightforward goal after good approach-work by Corbin and Charles. But it was not a characteristically ruthless or fluent display by the hosts.
At least, Quamina had not conceded against the Ascension’s weakest offensive team. Or they hadn’t up until the 87th minute, anyway.
Rangers custodian Jabari St Hillaire spilled a speculative attempt by Prison substitute Nathan Julien and, as the hosts failed to clear, another substitute, Leandro Subero, capitalised for a simple consolation item.
It was Subero’s first goal of the tournament and only Prison’s sixth item from eight matches, which saw them share the dubious honour of least goals scored with fellow TTSL teams, Guaya United and Matura ReUnited.
Curiously, Rangers conceded twice against Matura as well.
Quamina’s men, it seems, are either flying all over the opposition, or paying them too much respect by standing off and waiting for an obvious error, which is less likely at TTPL level.
But this is just ‘Hoghead’s’ second season as a top flight coach and it should be understandable if the long-time youth team coach is still finding his way a bit.
Phase Two has attracted an average of just over 500 paying patrons per game since the Ascension Tournament kicked off. On Saturday night, Ferguson may need extra supplies for the bar as soca star Patrice Roberts joins the cast of post-game entertainers.
It would be interesting to see how Creighton and company fare from 6pm when Rangers take on wily coach Jerry Moe’s AIA team, though.
Terminix La Horquetta Rangers (4-4-2): 20.Jabari St Hillaire (GK); 18.Jevon Morris, 5.Leslie Joel Russell, 77.Samuel Delice, 12.Caleb Sturge; 7.Aikim Andrews (24.Kishon Hackshaw 46), 8.Jamal Creighton (captain), 6.Kevon Goddard, 45.Kadeem Corbin; 21.Keyon Edwards (15.Keron Cummings 46), 10.Tyrone Charles (13.Jameel Antoine 77).
Unused substitutes: 16.Hayden Tinto.
Coach: Dave Quamina
Prison Service (4-3-3): 1.Jevon Bourne (GK); 20.Cordel Boyce-Bain (7.Joseph Brown 86), 18.Matthew Dufeal, 12.Kylon Gay, 26.Leon Lewis; 13.Richard Scoon, 4.Anthony Parris (captain), 5.Aaron Peters (19.Edric Daniels 86); 6.Herbert Donell (21.Leandro Subero 67), 27.Jordan Devonish (9.Kwesi Jeffrey 67), 17.Antonio Auguste (11.Nathan Julien 67).
Unused substitutes: 25.Nevorne McNicoll (GK), 2.Quason Hartman, 10.Shane Hospedales, 15.Anton Charles.
Coach: Anderson Veronique
Referee: Rodphin Harris
Wired868 Man of the Match: Kadeem Corbin (Wired868)
Ascension Invitational result
(Wednesday 4 September)
Terminix La Horquetta Rangers 4 (Jamal Creighton 6, 57, Kadeem Corbin 22, Keron Cummings 71), Prison Service 1 (Leandro Subero 88) at La Horquetta.
Upcoming Division One fixtures
(Friday 6 September)
FC Santa Rosa v San Juan Jabloteh, 8pm, Arima Velodrome;
(Saturday 7 September)
Guaya United v QPCC FC, 6pm, Guaya Recreation Ground;
Terminix La Horquetta Rangers v M’vt Caledonia AIA, 6pm, La Horquetta;
(Sunday 8 September)
Cunupia FC v Matura ReUnited, 3.30pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
Club Sando FC v Defence Force, 4pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Prison Service FC v Police FC, 4pm, YTC, Arouca.