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Former champion, W Connection slowed the march of Defence Force towards its first Digicel T&T Pro League title in 11 years when both teams battled to a 0-0 draw at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on a rainy Tuesday night.

Going into the second round day two match, the “Teteron Boys” held a perfect record of ten wins from as many matches and led with 30 points, but in the “Savonetta Boys” they found a stiffer challenge than in their first round meeting which they won 2-1.

With the point earned, Defence Force which failed to score for the first time in a league match this season improved to 31 points, nine ahead of defending champion, bmobile Joe Public which came from a goal down to beat ten-man San Juan Jabloteh 3-1 via a Kerry Baptiste hat-trick at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.

Before the kick-off, Jabloteh coach, Englishman Terry Fenwick was forced to make a roster change after striker Hector Sam withdrew from the team following the birth of his son prior to kickoff.

Six minutes into the contest, Jabloteh was dealt a further blow when captain and veteran midfielder Marvin Oliver was issued a straight red card by referee Shane De Silva for dissent. Despite being a man down, Jabloteh created the better of the chances and on the stroke of half-time went 1-0 ahead when makeshift striker Willis Plaza pounced on a defensive blunder by Makan Hislop to stab the ball home past goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.

Five minutes into the second-half, last season’s leading scorer in the league and Joe Public captain, Kerry Baptiste got his team level as he fired past goalkeeper Cleon John from on the edge of the 18-yard box. Ten minutes later Baptiste made it 2-1 when he collected a Hayden Tinto left-sided centre that somehow found its way through four Jabloteh players’ before poking the ball past John.

The nippy Baptiste then added another with a clinical finish into the far corner for a 3-1 cushion. He also had time to squander a chance at a fourth goal from a Micah Lewis right sided cross.

In the end, it was a welcome return to form for Baptiste and victory for Joe Public which had suffered a 2-0 extra-time T&T Football Federation FA Trophy round-of-16 loss to Jabloteh on Friday night at the same venue.

Earlier on at Macoya, Trevin Ceasar fired home a 90th minute item to give Ma Pau an unlikely 1-0 win over an unlucky St Ann’s Rangers, who had only themselves to blame for not hitting the target.

The win pushed Ma Pau to fourth spot with 17 points, one behind Caledonia AIA which needed an 89th minute winner from Kemron Purcell to get past FC South End 2-1 at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella. Guyanese midfielder Shawn Beveney had given Caledonia the lead in the 37th minute but Oswin Williams drew South End level in the 70th minute before Purcell struck.

In Tuesday’s other match, national utility player Anthony Wolfe registered a second-half hat-trick as DirecTV North East Stars outgunned Police 6-3 after trailing 0-3 at the interval at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar. The next round of league matches take place on Tuesday.

Kerry Baptiste tricks Jabloteh
...Army lead shrinks to 9 pts
By Ian Prescott (Express).


Suddenly, Defence Force don't seem quite so far in front in the Digicel Pro League. With seven rounds of matches to go, chasers and defending champions Joe Public cut Defence Force's lead to just nine points when a Kerry Baptiste hat-trick earned them a come-from-behind 3-1 over San Juan Jabloteh on Tuesday night.

At the same time, long-time leaders Defence Force were dropping their first points of the season when they were held 0-0 by W Connection at Couva, after previously winning the first 10 matches they played. It is the exact permutation the chasing pack was hoping for; a reduction of the deficit to single digits and possible jangling nerves triggering a late-season "Army" collapse.

Defence Force still lead with 31 points from 11 matches, followed by Joe Public (22 pts). The Army draw also gave hope to Caledonia AIA (18 pts) and Ma Pau (17pts), who moved to third and fourth respectively after scoring injury time victories.

Caledonia AIA were able to overcome FC South-end 2-1 at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium only through a 90th minute Kemron Purcell goal. And Ma Pau stole three points by winning the opening match of the Marvin Lee Stadium double-header 1-0 over St Ann's Rangers.

The match looked a certain draw until national youth striker Trevin Caesar collected a through ball in injury time and slipped a low shot past Rangers' Haitian goalkeeper Fortunato Valcourt to get a dramatic late winner. Rangers remain in eighth with just nine points.

The top six positions in the Pro League are completed by North East Stars and W Connection, both with 16 points. Jabloteh (13 pts) , who finished second last year before debutant St Lucian coach Earl Jean was dismissed, are now barely in contention in seventh place after losing a first half lead and going down 3-1 to Joe Public.

Coached this season by former England international defender Terry Fenwick, Jabloteh once more led the Joe Public team they beat 2-0 in the FA Trophy competition last Friday. But Jabloteh did not help their cause when captain Marvin Oliver said something that referee Shane De Silva did not like and was red-carded in the seventh minute.

Still, they held their own, and makeshift striker Willis Plaza had two good tries at goal before finally putting Jabloteh ahead on the stroke of half-time. A traditional midfielder, Plaza made no mistake when he stroked home Jason Marcano's cross which defender Makan Hislop failed to clear.

Advantage Jabloteh at the half, but Public turned up the pressure in the second half and came back through a Baptiste's hat-trick.

Baptiste got his first just six minutes into the second half when he slipped an Andre Toussaint ball past goalkeeper Cleon John. A cross from Hayden Tinto provided Baptiste with his second goal in the 65th minute, and last year's record top-scorer got his third in the 89th when he neatly took Kareem Young's pass between two markers and blasted low past keeper John.

Tuesday’s Results

Ma Pau 1 (Trevin Ceasar 90th) vs St Anns Rangers 0.

Joe Public 3 (Kerry Baptiste 50th, 65th, 87th) vs San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Willis Plaza 45th).

Caledonia AIA 2 (Shawn Beveney 37th, Kemron Purcell 89th) vs FC SouthEnd 1 (Oswin Williams 70th).

Defence Force 0 vs W Connection 0.

North East Stars 6 (Anthony Wolfe 53rd, 66th, 86th, Kendall Velox 56th, Akile Guevara 59th, Gary Glasgow 70th) vs Police FC 3 (Noel Williams 15th, 44th, Sayid Freitas 25th).

Teams

Ma Pau SC—Alejandro Figueroa, Cyd Gray, Elton John, Dwayne James (Kevin Molino 67th), Trevin Caesar (Yellow), Coneal Thomas (Yellow), Rennie Britto (Lester Peltier 71st), Lyndon Andrews, Kerry Noray, Mekeil Williams (Shane Calderon 76th), Aquil Selby.

Coach—Michael McComie.

St. Ann’s Rangers—Fortunato Valcourt, Devon Modeste (capt), Javon Wilson (Yellow), Kaashif Thomas, Josimar Belgrave, Kwame Wiltshire, Hans Pierre, Ronald Musgrave, Clevon Mc Fee (Yellow) (Beville Joseph 85th), Akil Clarke, Elijah Belgrave.

Coach—Anthony Streete.

Joe Public—Marvin Phillip, Kerry Baptiste (capt), Trent Noel, Makan Hislop, Kareem Young, Nigel Daniel (Yellow), Kenaz Williams (Yu Hoshide 39th), Marcus Joseph (Yellow) (Hayden Tinto 50th), Andre Toussaint (Kareem Moses 77th), Micah Lewis, Jevon Morris.

Coach—Derek King.

San Juan Jabloteh—Cleon John, Marvin Oliver (capt) (Red), Jason Marcano (Yellow), Willis Plaza (Yellow) (Jerrel Britto 74th), Kennedy Hinkson (Johan Peltier 74th), Elijah Manners (Mikhil Awai 74th), Robert Primus, Joel Russell, Jamal Jack, Sheldon Bateau.

Coach—Terry Fenwick.