Club Sando are the new Pro League leaders after edging Morvant Caledonia United 1-0 in the second game of a double-header on Friday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium to move top of the ladder with the help of bottom-half Point Fortin Civic.
Sando, thanks to a first-half Keron Cornwall strike, improved their points tally to 17, one more than previous leaders North East Stars, who earlier on the night surrendered a 1-0 loss at the death against hosts Civic at the Mahaica Oval.
Civic punished the Stars on a spill by goalkeeper Akel Clarke in stoppage time with Kevin Moodie, for his first top flight goal, hitting in the net from close up to snap visitors unbeaten run of six games, while improving coach Reynold Carrington’s side to five games unbeaten—the last two ending in wins.
The result moved Civic two spots up into seventh, to join three-time holders Central FC, and Defence Force, who rallied late to hold 10-man Police FC to a 2-2 draw in the first game of an electrifying Hasely Crawford Stadium double-header, on nine points, while North East Stars (16 points), with two games in hand, dropped into second with their first loss of the season.
Third-place W Connection (14 points), however, could return to the summit on Saturday when they travel to the St. Augustine Secondary School Ground against MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers from 4:30pm on Saturday (today), while Central and San Juan Jabloteh returns to action against each other from 6pm at Barataria Oval on Tuesday.
Stars head coach Derek King came to the defence of his first choice goalie, Clarke, over the spill.
King said the Guyana international shot-stopper isn’t one hundred percent fit following a shoulder injury picked up in the Stars previous game on July 28 in a 3-2 win over Police, but was used against Civic as second choice Jabari Bryce, of the Trinidad and Tobago Under-20s, is side-lined with an ankle injury, and 18-year-old newcomer Darren Wilson is “not yet ready” for his professional debut.
“The game was even, both sides having chances,” King said on Friday night from Point Fortin. “But as I’ve told my players: ‘If you don’t play as you should on the day you can be punished.’ The league is very competitive and no team will be easy, top or bottom. I also think not being competitive for almost two weeks -- while other teams were active -- took the momentum out of us. Training is one thing but it can never substitute for match fitness.
“Civic were also high in confidence with their recent results ending in draws and most recently a win, and they were playing at home.
“It’s now for us to rebound from this in time to face Central next Friday (in a rescheduled game),” ended King, the 2009 PL winning coach.
Sando, the new leaders, are now undefeated in their last seven games with five of them ending in wins for coach Angus Eve—the latest a revenge result over Morvant Caledonia who had beaten them at the start of the season.
Revenge, it is said, is a dish served cold, and Eve had five former Morvant Caledonia players in his artillery—Akim Armstrong, Nical Stephens and Tyrone Charles in the starting line-up and Joel Leslie Russell and Keyon Edwards off the bench.
But it took a single Cornwall strike to put Sando back on winning ways against a side they had beaten six out of seven times in all competitions, dating back to the southerners’ debut 2015/16 season at the top flight.
Cornwall’s hit towards goal from just inside the area took deflection to beat goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel and Sando were in front after teammate Kevon Piper drilled an attempt just wide of the far upright early on and Armstrong, the ex-Morvant Caledonia captain, hitting the bar.
The item was recorded by referee Crystal Sobers as an own goal and Cornwall, one of the string pulling masters of the Sando midfield, remains with just two goals to his name this term.
Earlier on the night Reon Moore, however, grabbed his third goal of the season with a solid drive past Police FC goalkeeper Adrian Foncette to put his Defence Force side 1-0 ahead after 27 minutes at the Port-of-Spain venue.
But a sublime strike from Police midfielder Kareem Perry and into the far netting of Andre Marchan’s net nine minutes later on the other end, off a headed clearance, from the top right of the box, pulled Police level at 1-1.
The Lawmen were fired up in the oldest rivalry of Trinidad and Tobago but it wasn’t until the 58th minute that coach Richard Hood’s players took a 2-1 advantage through striker Kareem Freitas.
Freitas fired powerfully past a Marchan from close range at the end of a quick move initiated by Foncette’s long feed from the opposite end.
And ten minutes later Freitas had another attempt cleared out by defender Curtis Gonzales after goalkeeper Marchan spilled into the path of the speedy Police forward in the middle of the area.
But Freitas, who had earlier entered referee Rashby Mc Phie’s bad book for time wasting, was shown his second yellow card in less than a ten-minute span and the eventual red less for what was deemed, by the official, a dive in the Defence Force area fifteen minutes from time.
Hood showed his bravery by adding fresh legs utility player Christon Thomas upfront as a replacement for Jameel Perry who was denied by the upright in the 8th minute.
However Defence Force stormed back with coach Marvin Gordon calling on his big guns—Devorn Jorsling, Jerwyn Balthazar and Hashim Arcia—off the bench and found the equaliser through veteran Balthazar seven minutes from time.
The crafty midfielder drilled a low rebound past a hapless Foncette, who had made back-to-back saves to twice deny Hashim Arcia.
Two-all it stood at the final whistle, the first drawn result between the armed forces in the last three seasons.
Police FC 2 (Kareem Perry 36’, Kareem Freitas 58’) vs Defence Force FC 2 (Reon Moore 27’, Jerwyn Balthazar 83’), at the Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Morvant Caledonia United 0 vs Club Sando 1 (Own Goal 25’), at the Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Point Fortin Civic 1 (Kevin Moodie 90’+1) vs North East Stars 0, at Mahaica Oval.
Police FC: 18.Adrian Foncette (GK), 3.Ryan O'Neil, 4.Kadeem Boyce, 7.Kareem Perry (38.Kevin Lewis 85th minute), 8.Kurdell Brathwaite, 9.Jameel Perry (19.Christon Thomas 81st minute), 10.Kareem Freitas (Yellow Card+Yellow Card=Red Card), 12.Nequan Caruth, 13.Dillon Kirton (Yellow Card), 20.Elijah Belgrave, 21.Todd Ryan (Capt.) (Yellow Card) (2.Jasimar Ashers 92nd minute).
Unused substitutes: 22.Theon Browne (GK), 5.Kenaz Williams, 23.Shaquille Williams, 32.Keion Wilson.
Coach: Richard Hood
Defence Force: 1.Andre Marchan (GK), 3.Jamali Garcia, 4.Dave Long (99.Jerwyn Balthazar 62nd minute), 5.Jerome Mc Intyre (Yellow Card) (9.Devorn Jorsling 67th minute), 16.Kellon Serrette, 17.Curtis Gonzales (Capt.), 18.Reon Moore (Yellow Card), 20.Levi Serries (10.Hashim Arcia 62nd minute), 26.Justin Garcia, 39.Akil Morris, 45.Dylon King.
Unused substitutes: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 6.Rodell Elcock, 15.Shaquille Bertrand, 23.Kerry Joseph.
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Referee: Rashby Mc Phie
Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 6.Taje Commissiong, 8.Anthony Charles, 12.Kareem Joseph (Capt.), 15.Otev Lawrence (Yellow Card), 17.Kerry Daniel, 18.Maestro Mensah (Yellow Card), 20.Kareem Baptiste (26.Ralph Parris 60th minute), 22.Joshua Alexander (11.Quincy Ballah 60th minute), 23.Lester Joseph (10.Sheldon Holder 68th minute), 29.Kelsey Benjamin.
Unused substitutes: 31.De Journ Cahrles (GK), 5.Joshua Sylvester, 13.Rufuson Pierre Louis, 14.Simeon Bailey.
Coach: Jamaal Shabazz
Club Sando: 34.Kelvin Henry (GK), 5.Nical Stephens, 6.Kemuel Rivers, 8.Kevon Piper (35.Adan Noel 71st minute), 10.Keron Cornwall, 11.Akim Armstrong, 13.Tyrone Charles (15.Keyon Edwards 79th minute), 17.Jared London (Capt.) (Yellow Card), 18.Trevin Latapy (Yellow Card) (16.Leslie Joel Russell 74th minute), 23.Nicholas Thomas, 27.Jay-son Joseph (Yellow Card).
Unused substitutes: 33.Enrique Changiah (GK), 9.Akeem Redhead, 12.Michael Basdeo, 21.Malique Quow.
Coach: Angus Eve
Referee: Crystal Sobers