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San Juan Jabloteh survived a late clawback attempt by Central FC, edging the 2015/16 Digicel Pro League champions 3-2, to command the final of two spots to next season’s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship, which also serves as the qualifier tournament to the prestigious CONCACAF Champions League.

The win hurdled Jabloteh (51 points) over Defence Force (48 points) for second spot on the DPL standings. Now a draw for coach Keith Jeffrey’s side against North East Stars in their final game on Saturday from 4pm at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium will seal the top-two finish and a return to the CFU Club Championship.

The win also put Jabloteh one point ahead of North East Stars for the Kevon Carter trophy which is awarded to the team with the highest points tally from Round Three in the DPL.

However, a win for Defence Force against Morvant Caledonia United in their final game on Saturday from 4pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium, coupled by a loss for the “San Juan Kings” against the Stars, can lift the Army/Coast Guard combination – boasting a superior goal-difference – to a second place finish in the league behind Central (55 points), who have qualified for a third consecutive CFU Club Championship.

Jabloteh entered Tuesday’s rescheduled DPL fixture at the Hasely Crawford Stadium aware a slip-up would favour Defence Force’s ambitions for the highly sort after top-two finish.

But a first half brace from forward Jamal Gay after teammate Fabian Reid opened Jabloteh’s scoring for a 3-0 lead before the half hour mark, made sure the slip-up didn’t happen, although Central had rebounded from the sluggish first half performance and a dismissed penalty shout just before the break to score twice from the penalty spot within the last 10 minutes.

Reid (F) single-handedly gave Jabloteh a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the contest, slipping the ball through the legs of Central third choice goalkeeper Javon Sample after wrong-siding defender Keion Goodridge for his first goal since March 9 in a 3-0 win over Caledonia. It was the Jamaican midfielder’s 5th league goal and eighth in all competitions this season.

Then it was from Reid’s strike in the 16th minute off a Tyrone Charles cross, that Gay slapped in from close range to cushion Jabloteh 2-0 against a depleted Central side.

Gay then completed his double by the 27th-minute thanks to a poor goal-kick from Sample who played the ball at the forward feet less than 30 yards out. Gay raced towards goal before hitting past Sample for his 10th league goal this season and twelfth in all competitions.

Central without six regulars including first choice goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and captain Leston Paul, featured a starting line-up that included Kadeen Corbin, Nicholas Dillon and Ricardo John up front while veteran attacker Jason Marcano was overwhelmed in midfield before being replaced by Darren Mitchell almost immediately after Jabloteh’s third item.

The “Couva Sharks” finally pegged their first goal back in the 80th-minute when Corbin scored off the upright to beat goalkeeper Shemel Louison from the spot to reduce the deficit 1-3 after he was upended in the area by Keyon Edwards.

Referee Rashby Mc Phie, who dismissed a penalty appeal by Central after John was brought down by Louison moments before the break, pointed to the spot again in the 84th-minute, ruling a handball against former “Couva Sharks” defender Akeem Benjamin.

Substitute Darren Mitchell stepped up and comfortably converted from the spot to further reduce the deficit 2-3, but that stood the final score-line after a last ditched overhead attempt by Jamal Jack which surprised everyone, including Louison who was lucky to see the ball fly wide.

Simultaneously at the Ato Boldon Stadium, W Connection were celebrating a 3-0 win over cellar-positioned St. Ann’s Rangers in another rescheduled fixture.

Suriname forward Dimitrie Apai scored twice, netting in the 17th and 52nd minutes, before St. Lucia international Kurt Frederick wrapped up the scoring in the 62nd minute. The win lifted coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s side one spot up into fourth position with 46 points ahead of their final league game against Club Sando from 8pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium after Central take on Rangers from 6pm to complete their fixtures.

Results

San Juan Jabloteh 3 (Fabian Reid 7’, Jamal Gay 16’, 27’) vs Central FC 2 (Kadeem Corbin 80’ penalty, Darren Mitchell 85’ penalty), at the Hasely Crawford Stadium;

W Connection 3 (Dimitrie Apai 17’, 52’, Kurt Frederick 62’) vs St. Ann’s Rangers 0, at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

Teams

San Juan Jabloteh: 30.Shemel Louison (GK), 6.Akeem Benjamin, 7.Jamal Gay (17.Josiah Trimmingham 75th minute), 8.Keyon Edwards, 10.Tyrone Charles (4.Garth Thomas 90th minute), 11.Damian Williams (Capt.) (Yellow Card), 13.Fabian Reid, 18.Jevon Morris, 21.Aquil Selby, 23,Kennedy Hinkson (Yellow Card) (9.Brent Sam 65th minute), 24.Adrian Reid

Unused substitutes: 2.Noel Williams, 14.Sean Bonval, 16.Kaashif Thomas, 35.Andrew Durant (GK)

Coach: Keith Jeffrey

Central FC: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 3.Keion Goodridge, 7.Jason Marcano (11.Darren Mitchell 28th minute), 8.Ricardo John (Yellow Card), 9.Kadeem Corbin, 12.Jamal Jack (Capt.), 14.Nicholas Dillon (18.Michael Darko 86th minute), 15.Kaydion Gabriel (26.Jem Gordon 73rd minute), 19.Nathaniel Garcia, 24.Kevon Villaroel, 25.Elijah Manners

Unused substitutes: 2.Suraj Ramcharan, 4.Tekay Hoyce, 5.Derron John, 22.Shem Clauzel

Coach: Dale Saunders

Referee: Rashby Mc Phie