Defence Force’s attempt to extend a six-point lead at the top of the Digicel Pro League 2015/16 standings was flattened by Club Sando on Friday night.
In the second game of the Couva double-header, which also ended with a converted penalty, San Juan Jabloteh, after letting a Sean Bonval-inspired two-goal cushion slip, bounced back to defeat Police FC 4-2.
Nathan Lewis, who ended the night with two goals and winning his side a 90th minute penalty kick, gave the sixth positioned Jabloteh a 1-0 lead after just 6 minutes, when he smashed in a rebound from close up.
Winger Sean Bonval, in his first start for the San Juan Kings, was brilliant in the opening stages, which included putting his team 2-0 up in the 9th minute with a headed goal from a throw in and rattling the crossbar on 20 minutes.
The 19-year-old Bonval was also instrumental in the opening item after his unstoppable run down the left and into the box created the scoring chance for striker Jamal Gay, who was denied by goalkeeper Paul before Lewis fired in the rebound.
However Police rebounded through a goal each from scoring aces Makesi Lewis and Kareem Freitas, separated by the break, to level the scores 2-2.
Lewis, who was denied a second two minutes from the half, was picked out at the centre of the area in the 37th minute by Jibri Mc David following a powerful run down the left, and fired in a left-footed strike past Jabloteh goalie Shemel Louison to reduce the deficit.
Freitas equalised on 49 minutes when his glancing header off a Christon Thomas free kick sunk into Louison’s goal.
Police were awarded the free-kick after Jabloteh left-back Jerome Mc Intyre had sent Kevin Lewis tumbling to ground. Lewis was replaced injured.
The excitement didn’t stop there.
Jabloteh were back in front 3-2 on the hour mark when Lewis, who had earlier been denied along with Gay by ‘keeper Paul, sent a strike beyond the Police goalie.
Paul was later ejected by a direct red card out of referee Nicholas Gloudon’s pocket after hacking down Lewis in the area on 90 minutes.
Jamaican defensive midfielder Adrian Reid stepped up to the spot and converted past defender Anton Hutchinson for a 4-2 score, putting a second comeback attempt out of Police’s reach.
Hutchinson had taken the responsibility of ‘keeper as Police, with first choice goalie Adrian Foncette currently on trials in Turkey, stood without a back-up goalkeeper on the substitutes’ bench.
Police substitute Keon Wilson had two bites of the cherry five minutes from time at the edge of the six-yard area but couldn’t find the back of the net.
And a minute earlier an attempted clearance by Jabloteh penalty scorer Fabian Reid sliced a dangerous Freitas cross onto his own crossbar, causing a scare for the eventual winners.
In the earlier game, referee Dennis Changiah pointed to the penalty spot, ruling a foul against Defence Force, who were two minutes away from stretching a six-point lead at the top of the DPL standings.
Goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke, who had made a superb 23rd minute save to deny Kevon Woodley, picked the correct side. But Modeste clinical penalty strike flew beyond the Clarke’s reach to earn the seventh positioned Sando their 11th point of the season.
While Defence Force (28 points), with their one point earned, are now four points clear of defending DPL champions Central FC (24 points), who must tackle last season’s runners-up W Connection (22 points) from 4 pm on Sunday at the same Ato Boldon Stadium.
Defence Force, without instrumental midfielder and the team’s top scorer this season, Jerwyn Balthazar, had broken the deadlock through a headed goal in the 57th minute from midfielder Sean Narcis, who failed to continue beyond the 83rd minute with suspected muscle spasm.
The veteran defensive midfielder put the ball past goalkeeper Kelvin Henry at the back post, but had right-back Curtis Gonzales to credit.
Gonzales provided the perfect delivery from a cross that left the Sando defence, including Henry beaten.
Twenty-seven-year-old pre-season acquisition, Hashim Arcia, got his first Defence Force start of the season in the absence of Balthazar, but definitely needs more time in shaking off the rust and becoming his old self.
Arcia created a 12th minute scoring chance for Ross Russell Jr., who fired wide, before sending a half-volleyed attempt just high on 24 minutes.
Defence Force substitute Kellon Serrette had the best chance to snatch victory after he was played towards goal in stoppage-time, but Sando goalkeeper who had much earlier blanked substitute Richard Roy, produced another shutout.
Balthazar along with midfielder Kerry Joseph are on international duty this weekend with the Trinidad and Tobago Futsal team in Cuba for Caribbean qualifying stage of the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2016.
Meanwhile action in the DPL will continue over the weekend.
On Saturday (today), fifth positioned North East Stars, tied on 21 points with fourth positioned Police, will welcome eight placed Point Fortin Civic (10 points) from 3:30 p.m. at the Larry Gomes Stadium.
The Larry Gomes Stadium will come alive again on Sunday from 3:30 pm with a bottom-of-the-table clash between ninth positioned St. Ann’s Rangers and bottom positioned Morvant Caledonia United.
While at the Ato Boldon Stadium, rivals Central and W Connection will battle in the latest Couva Clasico to complete the weekend fixtures.
Defence Force 1 (Sean Narcis 57’) vs Club Sando 1 (Devon Modeste 90’ penalty)
San Juan Jabloteh 4 (Nathan Lewis 6’, 60’, Sean Bonval 9’, Adrian Reid 90’+3) vs Police FC 2 (Makesi Lewis 37’, Kareem Freitas 49’)
Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke; 3.Jamali Garcia, 4.Dave Long (52.Stephan Campbell 70th minute), 6.Rodell Elcock, 8.Curtis Gonzales, 9.Devorn Jorsling, 17.Ross Russell Jr., 18.Sean Narcis (16.Kellon Serette 83rd minute), 21.Aklie Edwards, 30.Kishun Seecharan (26.Richard Roy 59th minute), 10.Hashim Arcia
Unused substitutes: 12.Jemel Sebro, 15.Brandon Fountain, 7.Jelani Felix, 80.Aaron Enill (GK)
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Club Sando: 34.Kelvin Henry; 6.Kemuel Rivers, 7.Akeem Humphrey, 9.Jesse Downing, 10.Kevon Neaves, 15.Amrit Gildharry, 17.Jared London, 19.Ryan Frederick (22.Corneal Thomas 46th minute), 16.Kevon Woodley, 24.Devon Modeste, 26.Shaquille Holder
Unused substitutes: 12.Jack Weedon, 18.Shane Hospidales, 33.Alexei Julien (GK), 21.Kerron Mitchell
Coach: Anthony Streete
Match Referee: Dennis Changiah
San Juan Jabloteh: 30.Shemel Louison; 4.Garth Thomas, 7.Jamal Gay, 9.Brent Sam (12.Jordan Devonish 81st minute), 8.Keyon Edwards (16.Kaashif Thomas 76th minute), 21.Aquil Selby, 24.Adrian Reid, 11.Damian Williams, 27.Nathan Lewis, 15.Jerome Mc Intyre, 14.Sean Bonval (23.Kennedy Hinkson 79th minute)
Unused substitutes: 35.Andrew Durant (GK), 3.Lincoln Burns, 19.Douglas Dominic, 13.Fabien Reid
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Police FC: 22.Keinol Paul (Red Card); 5.Anton Hutchinson, 6.Jibri Mc David, 7.Clevon Mc Fee (16.Keon Wilson 73rd minute), 9.Makesi Lewis, 10.Kareem Freitas, 12.Kevin Lewis (2.Jasimar Ashers 50th minute), 14.Kaaron Foster (18.Dylon King 83rd minute), 19.Christon Thomas, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 21.Todd Ryan (Capt.)
Unused substitutes: 8.Kurdell Brathwaite, 11.Kadeem Riley, 13.Ricardo Peltier, 3.Kadeem Boyce
Coach: Richard Hood
Match Referee: Nicholas Gloudon