The 2013-2014 Digicel Pro League resumed on Friday with a Round One Match Day Seven double header at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, and saw Police FC defeat table-propping St. Ann’s Rangers 2-0, and North East Stars edge San Juan Jabloteh 1-0.
First half goals by winger Joel Kevin Lewis and defender Karlon Murray earned Police a deserving win and maximum points in the first match, to temporarily propel the “Lawmen” from sixth to second on the standings with 10 points.
But by the end of the second match on the night, Richard Hood’s side slipped into third, only behind North East Stars – also with 10 points – by a lesser goal difference, after the Sangre Grande club managed a late surprise win over San Juan Jabloteh. While Rangers remains slumped at the bottom of the standings with just 3 points.
It was in the 89th minute that Stars’ substitute Kennedy Hinkson broke the deadlock when he knocked in Keithy Simpson’s deep cross, which the Jabloteh defense and goalkeeper Kevin Doods failed to intercept, and eventually lost everything, including what seemed destined for a draw.
Jabloteh, with a very energetic and businesslike approach, had everything in their favour but simply couldn’t find the back of the Stars’ net, which had in it, goalkeeper Cleon John.
John was called into action in as early as the 34th second of play to produce a low save on Kerry Daniel’s strike from distance.
Jabloteh pressed on and in the 22nd minute were unfortunate not to win a penalty after Simpson’s pull on the jersey of Shaquille Bertrand, took the Jabloteh player to ground in motion on his strike.
Referee Garfield Weekes and his assistants, clearly missed the pulling, and goalkeeper John had an easy task gathering the weak effort.
Bertrand had sight of goal again in the 29th minute after dribbling past two defenders, but miscued on a strike and John was delighted again with another easy take.
Five minutes earlier (24th minute), Stars already without the services of a number of players such as striker Anthony Wolfe currently on trial at Indian League club Churchill Brothers, and absentees Micah Lewis and Marcus Gomez, suffered a blow when striker Trevin Caesar pulled up with a hamstring problem that ended his time on the pitch.
He was replaced by his former Trinidad and Tobago U-23 teammate, midfielder Jeromie Williams, while the Stars lacked the fire up front.
Seconds later, Elijah Manners shifting in a more central forward role, saw his decent strike deflect over-bar for a corner.
And four minutes from the break Manners featured in a counterattack when he squared a pass to midfielder Kaashif Thomas who struck wide of the upright from above the area.
The Stars then lost its uncontrollable equipment manager Selwyn Gabriel to the stands, on the directive of referee Weekes, who initially asked that Gabriel took a seat. But Gabriel, who was among other technical members of North East Stars upset over a challenge on Simpson, was persistent in letting out his frustrations verbally and left Weekes no other choice.
Following the break it was the goalkeeper John show.
John was brilliant in the 58th minute when he kept out a Kerry Baptiste strike after a slip by defender Kareem Moses allowed Alfie James cross to meet the Jabloteh forward and striker.
Baptiste then failed to put the hurt on his former employers and former teammate John from the penalty spot in the 61st minute.
John’s brilliance was seamless, pulling off back to back saves in open play in the 59th minute – first blocking out a Baptiste strike and the rebound by Bertrand – before Bertrand in chase of his rebound was hacked down inside the area by Keryn Navarro.
Referee Weekes didn’t hesitate pointing to the spot in that instance; however Baptiste’s solid strike from the spot towards the inside of the right upright was miraculously saved by John.
It clearly wasn’t Baptiste’s night, as John glowed again in the 69th minute by keeping out the ace forward’s volley off a Rennie Britto cross.
Britto himself had a couple tries, first hitting a tame one into the gloves of John in the 33rd minute, and in the 77th minute he struck miserably high.
A minute of silence was observed in commemoration of deceased former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. The same was done ahead of kick-off for the Rangers vs Police FC match.
In the earlier match Lewis showed good skill to evade defender Tevin Gilkes and goalkeeper Akel Clarke before blasting into an exposed net for a 1-0 Police advantage in the 27th minute.
Defender Karlon Murray then doubled Police’s advantage, 2-0, in the 35th minute when he struck a squared Christon Thomas pass into the back of goalkeeper Clarke’s net.
However head coach Richard Hood must be mindful of defensive leaks and offensive flaws if his side wants to remain in the top half of the table.
Police dominated attacks but missed out on a third item seconds before the break when substitute Kenaz Williams, sliding across the six yard area, failed to make contact to a brilliant Trent Noel pass.
Akiba Peters even struck the crossbar twice in the second half; first in the 55th minute when he headed a Noel corner onto the crossbar, and the rebound sent overbar by Murray, then in the 73rd minute with a strike from distance.
Peters also failed to find the back of the net in the 58th minute when he slid in at the back, guiding a Lewis’ cross behind, in a play initiated by Ryan’s quick thinking in midfield.
Teammate Elijah Belgrave, who failed to beat Clarke in the 19th minute, was also guilty of failing to hit the back of the net in the 59th minute when his effort took a deflection, and in the 70th minute he was denied by the Rangers’ goalie.
Belgrave, Police’s makeshift forward this season, also headed substitute Aaron Downing’s corner wide in the 83rd minute, and seconds later he had an overbar effort.
Round One Match Day seven will continue on Saturday as league leaders DIRECTV W Connection attempts to extend its rich vein of form to eleven straight wins in all competitions when it takes on bitter town-rivals Central FC from 5pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Round One Match Day Seven of the Digicel Pro League.
And from 3:30pm home team and fourth positioned Point Fortin Civic (9 points) will welcome defending league champions and eight positioned Defence Force (6 points) at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin.
Connection, who successfully defending the Digicel Charity Shield at the beginning of the season and a week ago lifted the 2013 Toyota Classic trophy, have conceded just one defeat this season, and that’s against Central in a 3-2 penalty loss following a goalless draw two months ago in the semi-final round of the First Citizens Cup, which was eventually won by the “Sharks”.
“Every game is a difficult game for us,” said W Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier.
“Right now we are doing well, and naturally when you’re doing well, you become a challenge for every opponent. So at this moment no challenge is easy for us.
“Central have definitely proven that they can compete with any team in the league, so definitely they will be a tough game. But to me there are at least six teams that are very competitive in the league this (season).
“Even on their day, the bottom (half) team like Police defeated Central 4-1. So even the bottom placed teams … you can’t take them for granted.”
Connection, leads the standings by 5 points with a maximum 15 points from five matches, while Central dropped two spots into fifth with 8 points, and behind them with the same amount of points are Caledonia AIA in sixth position, because of the upward movement by Stars and Police.
Connection are coming off a 1-0 FA Trophy quarterfinal win over Guaya United on Wednesday, the same result managed by Central against Petrotrin Palo Seco, also advancing into the semi-final round.
Both avoided each other in the FA Trophy semi-final round match-ups, which were revealed following a random draw on Friday morning.
On Wednesday 11 December at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Central, who lost 2-0 to Caledonia in last season’s Final, will meet Malabar FC from 5pm, and from 7:30pm W Connection will tackle North East Stars.
St. Ann’s Rangers 0—2 Police FC
Joel Kevin Lewis 27’, Karlon Murray 35’
St. Ann’s Rangers—1. Akel Clarke, 7. Clevon McFee (capt.), 4. Jelani Peters, 11. Jumol Harewood (29. Kadeem Corbin 49th), 12. Tevin Gilkes, 14. Michael Yaw Darko (24. Hakeen Legall 46th) (28. Ebunoluwa Simeon 90th), 16. Kennedy Isles, 18. Jemel Berot, 20. Qian Grosvenor, 21. Jair Edwards, 26. Josh Toussaint
Unused substitutes—5. Duran Dilworth, 8. Joel Whiteman, 25. Terrance Lewis (GK), 30. Rickyl Morris
Police FC—18. Adrian Foncette, 21. Todd Ryan (capt.), 1. Errol Charles (6. Kenaz Williams 34th), 4. Karlon Murray, 5. Anton Hutchinson, 8. Akiba Peters (27. Dwayne Salazar 76th), 10. Trent Noel (22. Aaron Downing 76th), 17. Dexter Alleyne, 19. Christon Thomas, 20. Elijah Belgrave, 39. Joel Kevin Lewis
Unused substitutes—31. Theon Browne (GK), 2. Jasimar Ashers, 25. Kemron Purcell, 40. Jabari Williams
San Juan Jabloteh 1—0 North East Stars
Kennedy Hinkson 89’
San Juan Jabloteh—1. Kevin Doods, 10. Kerry Baptiste (capt.) (21. Lemuel Lyons 87th), 26. Kieno Goodridge (Yellow Card), 18. Jevon Morris, 12. Jamal Spencer, 16. Nyron Jones, 25. Alfie James, 7. Rennie Britto, 14. Shaquille Bertrand, 19. Dillon Kirton, 17. Kerry Daniel (9. Jelani Felix 90th)
Unused substitutes—11. Akel James (GK), 22. Shane Hospidales, 13. Savion Kirton, 6. Dario Holmes, 20. Kevon Piper
North East Stars—22. Cleon John (capt.), 2. Kareem Moses, 4. Keithy Simpson, 7. Elijah Manners, 9. Akiel Guevara, 12. Jayson Joseph, 18. Kaashif Thomas, 19. Glenton Wolfe, 20. Trevin Caesar (6. Jeromie Williams 26th), 25. Keryn Navarro, 37. Andrew Smith (23. Kennedy Hinkson 57th)
Unused substitutes—1. Stefan Berkley (GK), 3. Kevon Villaroel, 5. Aquil Selby