Willis Plaza scored on either side of the break as San Juan Jabloteh held off Police FC 3-2 on Tuesday to move within a point of Digicel Pro League leaders Central FC.
The result stretched coach Keith Jeffrey’s winning stretch to three games and, more so, tightened the 2016-2017 standings at the top after five games.
Jabloteh, now on 12 points, hurdled W Connection and St. Ann’s Rangers, both on 10 points, to occupy second behind two-time defending champions and current leaders Central (13 points).
Plaza put the San Juan Kings ahead 1-0 on 13 minutes at the Ato Boldon Stadium, heading in from close up to beat his Trinidad and Tobago teammate Adrian Foncette in goal for Police. Foncette had made an initial block after Plaza connected to a left side Tyrone Charles’ cross but was unable to deny the Soca Warriors forward on the rebound.
Jamal Gay, despite occupying a position closer to his team’s goal as a holding midfielder and not the usual target man upfront, doubled Jabloteh’s lead 2-0 in the 24th minute for his second goal of the season.
Defending was poor again by Police when they allowed former player Noel Williams to whip in a left side behind the backline to find Plaza who had two bites of the cherry again but was denied by Foncette and Nequan Caruth off the line. However the pair stood beaten, and so did the entire Police team, after Gay rifled the second rebound into the back of the net.
Police, who have just one win this season, showed nothing of the cohesiveness displayed in a 5-1 win over Ma Pau Stars at the start of the season. Meanwhile Jabloteh, despite being without a handful of players through injury including Nathan Lewis, Aquil Selby, goalkeeper Shemel Louison, Sean Bonval and Akeem Benjamin, were on their way two spots up.
Police though, did find a goal on the stroke of half time to trim the deficit 1-2. Christon Thomas blasted the ball past goalkeeper Andrew Durant and defender Adrian Reid at the goalmouth off a squared pass above the six-yard area by Jameel Perry.
But Plaza, after galloping down the right with a pass from the Jabloteh half by Kion Joseph, restored Jabloteh’s two-goal cushion in the 64th minute for a 3-1 score.
Defender Ryan O’Neil’s legs wobbled before he hit the ground following a couple mesmerizing twists right of the goal by Plaza, who later let off a left footed strike past Foncette for his fifth goal to now lead the scorers’ list this term.
Police, without inspirational captain and midfielder Todd Ryan and forward Kareem Freitas, pressed desperately in search of snapping a three-game winless run while Jabloteh seemed comfortable on the counterattack.
The Lawmen finally found a second goal to make the scores 2-3 five minutes from time following a 25-yard effort from substitute Keion Wilson that caught Jabloteh, including goalkeeper Durant by surprise. Wilson celebrated his third goal of the season but it wasn’t enough to avoid defeat.
Police, occupying fifth position with 5 points, returns to play on Friday from 6pm at the same Ato Boldon Stadium against leaders Central, followed by an 8pm top-of-the-table clash between W Connection and St. Ann’s Rangers.
Digicel Pro League 2016-2017
Full Round One Match Day Five results
(Tuesday, November 1, 2016)
Police FC 2 (Christon Thomas 45’, Keion Wilson 85’) vs San Juan Jabloteh 3 (Willis Plaza 13’, 64’, Jamal Gay 24’), at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Sunday (Oct. 30, 2016)
Club Sando 3 (Keron Cornwall 32', Akeem Roach 56', Shaquille Holder 89') vs Morvant Caledonia United 3 (Kordell Samuel 42', Akim Armstrong 62', Jameel Neptune 90'+), at Mahaica Oval.
Point Fortin Civic 0 vs St. Ann’s Rangers 4 (Osaze Springer 4', Dylon King 7', Jomoul Francois 49', 81'), at Mahaica Oval.
(Friday, Oct. 28, 2016)
W Connection 2 (Andre Toussaint 31’, Dimitrie Apai 79’) vs Defence Force 0, at Mahaica Oval;
Central FC 0 vs Ma Pau Stars 0, at Mahaica Oval.
Teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday
Police FC: 18.Adrian Foncette (GK) (Capt.), 3.Ryan O’Neil, 6.Jibri Mc David, 8.Kurdell Brathwaite (25.Kenaz Williams 75th minute), 12.Kadeem Riley (16.Keion Wilson 65th minute), 14.Kaaron Foster (Yellow Card), 15.Jameel Perry, 19.Christon Thomas, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 38.Nequan Caruth, 39.Joshua Leach (23.Micah Lewis 58th minute).
Unused substitutes: 2.Akeil Thomas, 5.Anton Hutchinson, 17.Dexter Alleyne, 22.Theon Browne (GK).
Coach: Richard Hood
San Juan Jabloteh: 35.Andrew Durant (GK), 5.Elijah Manners (11.Damian Williams 81st minute), 7.Jamal Gay, 9.Willis Plaza, 10.Tyrone Charles, 12.Kion Joseph, 15.Jerome Mc Intyre, 17.Josiah Trimmingham, 18.Jevon Morris, 19.Noel Williams (16.Brent Sam 68th minute), 24.Adrian Reid.
Unused substitutes: 8.Keyon Edwards, 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 36. Raheem Belgrave (GK).
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Referee: Joel Cox
Assistant Referee 1: Glen Kevin Charles
Assistant Referee 2: Keron Barclay
Fourth Official: Nikolai Nyron