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16
Sat, Nov

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TRINIDAD and Tobago and Caribbean club champions CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh were stunned by the breathtaking pace of Surinamese champs Walking Boys before coming away 3-1 victors of the home leg of the Caribbean Zone CONCACAF Club Championship quarter-final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Wednesday night.
The attacking visitors threw caution to the wind and were rewarded with the opening goal of the match in the 12th minute when striker Donavan Eersterling met a right-side cross-ball with a spectacular scissors kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Goalkeeper Daurance Williams barely reacted in the San Juan Jabloteh goal as the ball flew into the corner of his net.

And the damage could have been even worse had Walking Boys midfielder Clifton Sandvliet been more accurate with his header when getting between Jabloteh's central defenders Keyeno Thomas and Ian Gray and meeting a left-side cross.

Later, keeper Williams was forced off his line to stop Eersterling, who was put clear up the right flank by a chipped ball.

At one stage, Williams was in trouble, but then the Walking Boys striker over-hit the ball, giving Williams the opportunity to run out and smother his shot.

Walking Boys created enough of an impression to lead Jabloteh's English coach Stephen Rutter to conclude that Sunday's return leg in Suriname could be a difficult proposition.

"It is nice to have a two-goal cushion," Rutter said afterwards. "But obviously the Surinamese side showed that they could be a bit dangerous over there."

How true! For the first half hour, Walking Boys attacked with pace and power, bringing a small, but very vocal Surinamese contingent in the stands to their feet.

And two-time T&T Pro League champs Jabloteh were fortunate not to fall further behind when keeper Williams dropped a free-kick at the feet of one of the Surinamese attackers.

Luckily, the Jabloteh keeper atoned for his mistake by pawing the ball away.

Walking Boys started at such a frenetic pace that they eventually had to slow down and, as they did so, Jabloteh started to get more of the game.

Eventually, midfielder Kerry Baptiste picked up a through ball in the 31st minute, side-stepped Walking Boys keeper Andre Zebeda and scored to pull his team level at 1-1.

And once back on even terms, Jabloteh took control and never relinquished the initiative to Walking Boys.

Striker Devon Mitchell looked set to put Jabloteh ahead when picking up another through ball in the 35th minute, but just put his shot wide of an upright after being hassled by three retreating defenders.

Mitchell did get the ball into the back of the net on the stroke of half-time, but his effort was ruled offside by the match official.

Early in the second half, Mitchell did everything right except score when he pulled down a cross inside the penalty box and hit his shot over the bar.

But in the 57th minute, Nigel Daniel got everything right when his free-kick deflected off a Walking Boys player and beat keeper Zebeda to put Jabloteh ahead.

The local team continued to press the Walking Boys and got a third goal in time added on when Mitchell headed home a cross-ball.

Exciting, entertaining and passionate the football was, but Jabloteh definitely did not have a stroll in the park against the Walking Boys.