AC Port-of-Spain, Tiger Tanks Club Sando, and Defence Force were among the early winners on Match Day 14 as the race among the top five clubs on the table for the inaugural T&T Premier Football League title picks up pace on Wednesday. The teams are also vying to secure a top-three position that would secure qualification to the CONCACAF club revamped confederation club competitions by May 28.
In the day's early kick-off, national Under-20 striker Nathaniel James netted his sixth goal in his last three games since his return to the starting line-up, and 11th overall this season, when he scored in the 12th minute to earn Tiger Tanks Club Sando 1-0 win over Cunupia FC at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
With the win, its 11th in 14 matches, the Cornell Glen-coached Club Sando briefly moved to the top of the 12-club standings with 35 points, however, the southern-based club's stay at the top was short-lived as the Walt Noreiga-coached AC Port-of-Spain regained the lead with 36 points less than one hour later with a comfortable 2-0 defeat of Point Fortin Civic in the opening match of a doubleheader at the Phase II La Horquetta Recreation Ground, La Horquetta.
There were early chances for teams, with Jean-Heim Mc Fee, John-Paul Rochford, and Jameel Neptune coming close while Tyrell Emmanuel, Kyron Williams, and Hughton Hector all had openings for Point Fortin but after the first 30 minutes, the score remained goalless.
The deadlock was eventually broken when Che Benny teed up national midfielder Duane Muckette for a right-footed curling effort that beat a full stretch dive of goalkeeper Akini Adams for a 35th 1-0, and his second goal in as many matches.
With 20 minutes to go in the contest, Benny was again the provider for AC PoS to make it 2-0 on the night, working a couple of one-two passes with Jameel Neptune before the latter's left-footed effort beat Adams on his left side, and into the net off the far post.
A minute later former Point Fortin Civic goalkeeper denied Emmanuel's close-range attempt with a reflex save from less than ten yards out to preserve his team's 2-0 lead while at the other end, Adams did well to keep out a left-footed breakaway effort from Rochford, but in the end, the league leaders came away with the full points.
Speaking after the match, Benny who was named as the Man-of-the-Match said he was pleased with his performance which helped his team get the three points.
Benny added, "I think we had a good game and created a lot of chances, but we also did not take a lot of those chances ad we just have to go back to the drawing board and do much better next time."
In the first match of a doubleheader at the Arima Municipal Stadium, Defence Force got a goal each from Dwight Quintero, and Justin Garcia as well as an own goal from Brandon Reyes to record a 3-0 win against Central FC to move ahead of Terminix La Horquetta Rangers with 31 points, and a match in hand on the top two clubs while denting their opponents top three hopes as well.
Last night in the three late matches, Rangers with 28 points from 11 matches faced off with San Juan Jabloteh in the second match at La Horquetta while Police faced Morvant Caledonia AIA and W Connection came up against Prions Service FC.
This year marks a return to CONCACAF Club competitions for T&T clubs since 2018 when former regional powerhouses, and both former Caribbean Football Union Club Championship winners, W Connection (2006, 2009) and Central FC (2015 & 2016), participated.
This was because North East Stars, the 2017 T&T Pro League champions (now known as AC Port-of-Spain), and W Connection, the 2017 T&T Pro League runners-up, were not allowed to compete in the 2019 CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championship through no real fault of theirs, as TTFA did not properly execute its club licensing programme.
Yesterday's T&T Premier Football League's Results:
Defence Force 3 (Dwight Quintero 11th, Brandon Reyes 75 O-G, Justin Garcia 87-Pen) vs Central FC 0
AC Port-of-Spain 2 (Duane Muckette 35th, Jameel Neptune 70th) vs Point Fortin Civic 0
Club Sando 1 (Nathaniel James 12th) vs Cunupia FC 0
La Horquetta Rangers 1 (Kadeem Corbin 58th) vs San Juan Jabloteh 0
W Connection 2 (Akiel Vesprey 28th, Craig Wilson 74th) vs Prison Service 0
Police FC 4 (Joel Lewis 11th, Jabari Mitchell 68th, 96th, Tyrese Bailey 78th) vs Morvant Caledonia United 2 (Tyrice Dennis 13th, Mamade Guerra 18th)
Place Team P W D L F A Pts
1 AC PoS 14 12 0 2 37 9 36
2 Club Sando FC 14 11 2 1 31 13 35
3 Defence Force 13 10 1 2 31 10 31
4 L.H Rangers 11 9 1 1 36 13 28
5 Central FC 14 7 1 6 26 23 22
6 Police FC 12 5 1 6 21 22 16
7 W Connection 13 4 2 7 12 19 14
8 Point Fortin Civic 14 3 2 9 9 18 11
9 Prisons Service FC 13 3 2 8 8 30 11
10 Jabloteh 13 2 2 8 14 30 8
11 Morvant Caledonia 13 2 2 9 11 29 8
12 Cunupia FC 14 2 2 10 8 28 8