Teenager Che Benny scored his first top flight goals, netting twice after the break, as St. Ann's Rangers overturned a 3-nil deficit to hold rivals Club Sando 3-3 in their 18th and final Digicel Pro League match of the truncated 2016-17 season.
It was the first of two tied results at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on Friday night that included Courts Morvant Caledonia United holding Police FC to a 1-1 draw.
Sando, who like Rangers had already secured an improved finish from last season, albeit fifth and seventh positions, respectively, had looked in control for victory after leading 3-0.
Akeem Roach, who is in the lead for this season’s Golden Boot, was involved in all three Sando goals but missed an excellent scoring chance in the 18th minute to improve his league tally of 12 goals.
Joel Kevin Lewis, in a rare start this season, put Sando ahead by the third minute when he hooked in a rebound after goalkeeper Christopher Biggette had kept out a Roach attempt off Akeem Humphrey’s cross.
Lewis failed to double his tally on 10 minutes, but two minutes later Sando were celebrating another after a through pass by Roach was met by Humphrey, who raced into the area before slipping a low shot past Biggette.
Shaquille Holder later fired in a dominant Sando’s third item ten minutes after the break after he was picked out by a squared Roach pass inside the area.
However in an incredible turn of the tide, Che Benny and co., including the second half introduction of Jomoul Francois, Rangers rallied to an incredible comeback draw.
Benny, a 16-year-old Trinidad and Tobago Under-17 footballer and St. Anthony College attacker, reduced the deficit 1-3 in the 63rd-minute when he slapped home a rebound from the centre of the area.
Jameel Antoine then converted a penalty in the 82nd-minute to further reduce the deficit 2-3 after Francois was brought down in the box by Nical Stephens. Antoine gave goalkeeper Kelvin Henry no chance with his effort from the spot hitting the inside of the upright before the ball entered the opposite side of the netting.
Celebrating a victory finally flew out the window for Sando when the pint-sized Benny slotted into the bottom corner of Henry’s goal to put the scores at 3-3 five minutes from time after he was picked out by a low Francois cross.
Later, Jameel Perry fired Police – fresh off Tuesday's 9-0 Digicel Pro Bowl qualifier win over Civic – ahead in the first minute of play with a 16-yard laser that beat goalkeeper Marvin Phillip into the bottom right corner.
But an equally brilliant drive by Lester Joseph, to beat goalkeeper Adrian Foncette on 64 minutes, pulled Morvant Caledonia level in a game of pride for the Eastern Stallions, who had already finished second from bottom of the standings.
Police, however, who face W Connection on Wednesday in the Pro Bowl quarter-finals, wasted a match-winning chance twelve minutes from time when Kadeem Riley spilled at the goalmouth with Phillip at his mercy.
With the point, Police temporarily hurdled Defence Force for sixth position by goal-difference on the night, but are likely to finish below the Army/Coast Guard combination who were leading table-propping Point Fortin Civc 6-0 on Saturday before play was abandoned due to lights failure with 20 minutes left at the Mahaica Oval on Saturday.
Defence Force head coach Marvin Gordon rested an injured Devorn Jorsling for Thursday’s Pro Bowl quarter-final clash with San Juan Jabloteh but had no problems finding the back of the net against a side that were flattened in midweek.
Jerwyn Balthazar, Hashim Arcia and former Civic forward Jamille Boatswain each scored twice for Defence Force.
Arcia and Boatswain joins Police forward Jameel Perry on 10 league goals and with 20 minutes left to compete against Civic, the duo are still within a shot at the Golden Boot.
But stiff competition for the Golden Boot will continue today (Sunday) as Dimitrie Apai (9 goals) and Jamal Charles and Jason Scotland (8 goals) are all expected in action at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium.
Apai and Charles should feature for W Connection who face Scotland’s Ma Pau Stars from 3:30pm. Connection are still within a chance of the league title, sitting one point behind two-time defending champions and leaders Central FC, who simultaneously face San Juan Jabloteh at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Club Sando 3 (Joel Kevin Lewis 3’, Akeem Humphrey 12’, Shaquille Holder 55’) vs St. Ann’s Rangers 3 (Che Benny 63’, 85’, Jameel Antoine 82’ penalty), at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Morvant Caledonia United 1 (Lester Joseph 64’) vs Police FC 1 (Jameel Perry 1’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Point Fortin Civic 0 vs Defence Force 6 (Jerwyn Balthazar 16', 43', Jamille Boatswain 18', 50', Hashim Arcia 30', 63'), at Mahaica Oval.
(Game abandon game after 70 minutes due to lights failure)
Club Sando: 33.Alexei Julien (GK), 5.Nical Stephens, 7.Akeem Humphrey (Capt.) (14.Andy London 62nd minute), 10.Shaquille Holder (15.Judah St. Louis 76th minute), 11.Joel Kevin Lewis (Yellow Card), 12.Michael Basdeo, 13.Akeem Roach, 18.Trevin Latapy, 19.Joel Leslie Russell (4.Rondell Payne 46th minute), 21.Sharkeel Donatien (Yellow Card), 23.Nicholas Thomas.
Unused substitutes: 8.Kevon Piper, 9.Keron Cornwall, 27.Jayson Joseph, 34.Kelvin Henry (GK).
Coach: Angus Eve
St. Ann’s Rangers: 22.Christopher Biggette (GK), 7.Sedale Mc Lean, 8.Jameel Antoine, 10.Devon Modeste (Capt.), 11.Kazim Donald (9.Jomoul Francois minute 66th minute), 14.Kyle Bartholomew, 16.Richard Williams, 27.Che Benny, 30.Lester Durham (24.Jesse Williams 66th minute), 32.Marvin Lee, 33.Osaze Springer (34.Angelo Burgess 83rd minute).
Unused substitutes: 1.Cleon John (GK), 29.Keshawn Hutchinson.
Coach: Anthony Streete
Referee: Crystal Sobers
Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 6.Taje Commissiong, 8.Anthony Charles, 9.Dylon King, 11.Dominic Douglas (29.Kelsey Benjamin 78th minute), 12.Kareem Joseph, 14.Keron Bethelmy (17.Akim Armstrong 25th minute), 15.Otev Lawrence, 18.Maestro Mensah, 20.Jameel Neptune, 23.Lester Joseph.
Unused substitutes: 5.Seon Thomas, 7.Kordell Samuel, 19.Shawndell Augustus, 25.Jelani Felix, 30.Kern Caesar.
Coach: Rajesh Latchoo
Police FC: 18.Adrian Foncette (GK), 5.Anton Hutchinson, 6.Jibri Mc David, 10.Kareem Freitas (Yellow Card), 12.Kadeem Riley, 15.Jameel Perry, 17.Dexter Alleyne (23.Micah Lewis 49th minute), 20.Elijah Belgrave, 21.Todd Ryan (Capt.) (24.Keeron Benito 55th minute), 25.Kenaz Williams, 38.Nequan Caruth (19.Christon Thomas 53rd minute).
Unused substitutes: 3.Ryan O’Neil, 7.Kareem Perry, 13.Dillon Kirton, 22.Theon Browne (GK)
Coach: Richard Hood
Referee: Rashby Mc Phie