Neil Benjamin Jr. led with a goal and two assists as his side W Connection kept on the heels of leaders North East Stars in pursuit of Pro League control with a comfortable 3-0 win over Point Fortin Civic at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on Saturday.
Goals by 22-year-old St. Lucia international Shirvone Malik St. Prix and 20-year-old Jameel Antoine cushioned Savonetta Boys in the first half against Civic before winger Benjamin, the 23-year-old who leads the 2017 scoring list, snatched his ninth league goal of the term to complete a third straight league win for coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s men.
Connection’s position in second improved to 23 points, one point behind North East Stars (24 points), 6-0 winners over three-time holders Central FC 6-0 on Friday, ahead of an upcoming two-week break to facilitate the Trinidad and Tobago national team preparations for final World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Mexico and USA on October 7 and 10 respectively.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Morvant Caledonia United snapped an eight-game winless spell in the league with only their second win after defeating Police FC 2-1 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Sheldon Holder and Lester Joseph cushioned Morvant Caledonia early with strikes in the 7th and 31st minutes before Police pulled a late goal back through a converted penalty strike by veteran midfielder Todd Ryan five minutes from the end.
Morvant Caledonia, who travels to Civic on Tuesday in a rescheduled fixture from 6pm at the Mahaica Oval, moved three spots up, joining Central FC and Police on 10 points with the latter two slipping a place into seventh and eighth respectively.
And on Sunday, bottom-placed MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers, in one of their surprises this season, held third-positioned Club Sando to a goalless draw in St. Augustine.
In Marabella, Malik St. Prix headed Connection in front on 14 minutes after timing his move perfectly in the box to win a right side Benjamin cross and put it past Civic goalkeeper Marvin Phillip for his first league goal this season.
St. Prix had a chance to double his tally two minutes from the half thanks to a cheeky Dimitri Apai feed into the box. But with goal in his view, the lanky attacking midfielder opted to return the earlier favour to Benjamin, only to disappoint on the delivery.
Connection argued for a penalty on the stroke of 45 minutes after Marcus Joseph looked to have been tripped up in the box by Phillip, but referee Marlon Peruse instead ruled a goal kick.
Connection though, would snatch the cushion in stoppage-time of the first half when Antoine, for his second goal this season, fired past a hapless Phillip after an exchange in the box with Benjamin.
Two venomous Alvin Jones strikes from set-pieces early in the second half offered something to cheer though it wasn’t enough for the Connection supporters who braved the rainy weather in support of their team.
“Their tank empty, score something!” suggested one Connection supporter, perhaps urging the Savonetta Boys to convert possession into another goal.
That third item would arrive five minutes from time at the end of a counterattack when winger Benjamin bundled the ball over the line after Connection had beat the offside with Marcus Joseph slipping a pass on the left to Hughtun Hector whose squared pass to the eventual scorer had beat Phillip. The Civic goalie hung out to dry again by his teammates.
Less than a minute onto the pitch, Daniel Diaz, on a Benjamin feed in the 78th minute, squandered a scoring chance with a couple touches too many inside the box before being stripped off the ball.
Civic substitute forward Shackiel Henry, who returned to the Point Fortin side in August following stints at Connection and Song Lam Nghe An FC in Vietnam, got closest to slicing Connection’s lead midway through the second half but his low drive rebound off the upright to the travelling supporters of south of the venue.
Civic must now regroup quickly, in time for Morvant Caledonia United’s visit on Tuesday.
St. Ann’s Rangers 0 vs Club Sando 0, at St. Augustine Senior Secondary School Ground.
W Connection 3 (Shirvone Malik St. Prix 14’, Jameel Antoine 45’+1, Neil Benjamin Jr. 85’) vs Point Fortin Civic 0, at Manny Ramjohn Stadium;
Morvant Caledonia United 2 (Sheldon Holder 7’, Lester Joseph 31’) vs Police FC 1 (Todd Ryan 85’ pen.), at Hasely Crawford Stadium
W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald (GK); 3.Gerard Williams, 5.Triston Hodge, 7.Neil Benjamin Jr. (14.Euller Eduardo Couto 88th minute), 10.Dimitri Apai (20.Daniel Diaz 77th minute), 11.Shirvone Malik St. Prix (26.Isaiah Garcia 71st minute), 13.Hughtun Hector, 16.Alvin Jones, 23.Weslie John, 24.Jameel Antoine, 99.Marcus Joseph.
Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK); 21.Ronell Paul, 30.Shaquille John.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier, Assistant Coach: Earl Jean, Trainer: Eligah Joseph, Goalkeeper Coach: Aquelius Sylvester, Physiotherapist: Chandeo Boodoosingh and Equipment Manager: John Jerry.
Point Fortin Civic: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 7.Steven Joseph, 10.Jabari Mitchell, 13.Nickcolson Thomas, 16.Kelvin Modeste (14.Shevon Frederick 46th minute), 18.Trent Lougheed (11.Keron Neptune 64th minute), 21.Juma Clarence, 23.Kevon Rouse, 33.Justin Sadoo, 53.Stephan Campbell, 99.Kevin Moodie (45.Shackiel Henry 46th minute).
Unused substitutes: 40.Tevin Moore (GK); 24.Akinola Gregory, 26.Jeremiah Kesar, 28.Aelon Minors.
Coach: Reynold Carrington, Assistant Coach: Kester Cornwall, Trainer: Adaryll John / Khegon Thomas and Equipment Manager: Rawlston Alexander.
Referee: Marlon Peruse