Santa Cruz, rich in history for producing sporting heroes, got rich in goals on Friday night, but they were against host team San Juan Jabloteh, who fell 3-0 against visiting W Connection in their top-of-the-table Digicel Pro League clash.
Hughtun Hector scored on either side of the break, separated by team-mate Andre Toussaint’s first-half item in a classy W Connection performance at the Brian Lara Recreation Grounds to leave the hosts red-faced.
The result puts the Stuart Charles-Fevrier coached-Connection, on 19 points from eight games, up a spot into the DPL lead, but only ahead on goal-difference with previous leaders and rivals Central FC having a game in hand against St. Ann’s Rangers on Tuesday.
Jabloteh, who remains third on 16 points, were first punished on 20 minutes and never found a way back in front of hundreds of home supporters who flocked the Sam Boucaud venue to witness for the first time, top-flight football in the hometown of West Indies cricketers Dawyne and Darren Bravo, former Trinidad and Tobago international Arnold Dwarika, world-renowned former track-star Ato Boldon, and world-renowned former West Indies cricketer Brian Lara.
Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and MP for St. Ann’s East, Dr. Nyan Gadsby Dolly, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Darryl Smith, and councillor for Maracas Bay/La Fillette/Santa Cruz, Lyndon Lara, joined Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams in greeting the teams before the action started.
Hector, quickest to react to an Alvin Jones free-kick which crashed off the wall and entered the area, fired Connection 1-0 ahead by hitting beyond goalkeeper Shemel Louison, who was lucky to see an earlier cracker by Kurt Frederick fly just overbar.
Hector was also involved in the second Connection goal, troubling Louison from a well-placed Aikim Andrews cross, before Toussaint swooped in to make it 2-0 on half hour.
Toussaint has now scored in each of Connection’s last five league games which ended in wins.
Hector completed his double thirteen minutes into the second half and Connection were well in command 3-0. Jabloteh were stretched apart by a quick counterattack on the right led by Andrews before Jones swung in an early cross to Hector, who steered his second bite on the opportunity into the bottom left corner of Louison’s goal.
The visitors, however, would later lose assistant coach and former forward, Earl Jean, who was ejected from the technical area for his protests over a yellow card shown to Connection defender Maurice Ford by referee Keion Yorke.
Perhaps Jean’s frustrations had boiled over in questioning the official’s leniency following a number of earlier tackles on the soggy surface due to earlier torrential rainfall.
Jabloteh head coach Keith Jeffrey had responded after the break by replacing Kennedy Hinkson and Elijah Manners with the speed of Tyrone Charles and Nathan Lewis, adding to his offence that already included forwards Willis Plaza and Jamal Gay.
But the hosts failed to convert their chances, including second half attempts by Damian Williams and Josiah Trimmingham which were cleared off the Connection goal line, and Plaza spilling wide at the goal-mouth seven minutes from the end after goalkeeper Terrence Lewis had kept out a 25-yard Tyrone Charles free-kick.
In the end, Jabloteh bowed to their first league defeat in the last six games.
Top flight football returns to the Ato Boldon Stadium on Sunday with the semi-final round of this season’s First Citizens Cup. Morvant Caledonia United will tackle Defence Force 4pm before Police FC and Ma Pau Stars battle each other from 6pm for a place in the final on 2 December.
Digicel Pro League 2016-2017
Round One Match Day Eight results
(Tuesday, November 22, 2016)
Ma Pau Stars 1 (Jerrel Britto 83’) vs Morvant Caledonia United 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Defence Force 0 vs Police FC 2 (Todd Ryan 38’, Elijah Belgrave 41’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.
(Friday 25 November 2016)
San Juan Jabloteh 0 vs W Connection 3 (Hughtun Hector 20’, 58’, Andre Toussaint 30’), at Brian Lara Recreation Ground.
First Citizens Cup 2016
(Sunday 27 November 2016)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Morvant Caledonia United vs Defence Force—4pm
Police FC vs Ma Pau Stars—6pm
Digicel Pro League 2016-2017
Round One Match Day Eight
(Tuesday 29 November 2016)
Club Sando vs Point Fortin Civic—5pm
Central FC vs St. Ann’s Rangers—7:30pm
First Citizens Cup 2016
Teams at the Brian Lara Recreation Grounds on Friday
San Juan Jabloteh: 30.Shemel Louison (GK), 5.Elijah Manners (10.Tyrone Charles 46th minute), 7.Jamal Gay (16.Brent Sam 73rd minute), 9.Willis Plaza, 11.Damian Williams, 12.Kion Joseph, 15.Jerome Mc Intyre, 17.Josiah Trimmingham, 18.Jevon Morris, 23.Kennedy Hinkson (Nathan Lewis 46th minute), 24.Adrian Reid.
Unused substitutes: 36. Raheem Belgrave (GK), 6.Akeem Benjamin, 8.Keyon Edwards, 21.Aquil Selby.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
W Connection: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 2.Kurt Frederick, 4.Maurice Ford (Yellow Card), 8.Briel Thomas, 10.Dimitrie Apai (3.Gerard Williams 63rd minute), 13.Hughtun Hector (Capt.) (9.Shackiel Henry 89th minute), 14.Andre Toussaint, 16.Alvin Jones, 17.Aikim Andrews (37.Daniel Diaz 78th minute), 25.Daneil Cyrus, 35.Jesus Perez.
Unused substitutes: 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 21.Ronell Paul, 26.Shaquille Bertrand, 46.Anfernee Frederick.
Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier
Referee: Keion Yorke
Assistant Referee 1: Caleb Wales
Assistant Referee 2: Glen Kevin Charles
Fourth Official: Joel Cox