A double from national midfielder Alvin Jones for Club Sando ensured a 2-1 win over W Connection FC at the Mahaica Sports Complex in Point Fortin, which pushed them back into the second position on the 12-team T&T Premier Football League standings on Sunday.
With the battle for one of the three top spots for the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield (top two teams) and CONCACAF Caribbean Cup (third-place team) tightening with just about two rounds of matches to go, Club Sando, who strengthened its team by signing talented young striker Real Gill from Terminix La Horquetta Rangers last week, did not use his services in the opening half but Jones proved to be a force to be reckoned with all afternoon.
Gleaming with confidence, Jones, in the eighth minute, took down a lifted cross from Acelino Medford on the right side of the W Connection defence and calmly slotted the ball past the advancing goalkeeper Denzil Smith for a 1-0 advantage.
With their strong start, Club Sando enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the early moments that really should have led to another goal in the 31st minute.
This time, Jones' cross from a free-kick on the right side found both Josiah Cooper and Josiah Trimmingham storming inside, however, neither got a touch on the ball, and it rolled out to safety.
W Connection later picked their game up and got the equaliser in the 37th minute. From a right-side cross, striker Jahmalee Barclay's header was pushed wide, and from a resulting goal-mouth scrimmage, the ball rolled nicely for Nathan Quashie to hit hard into the far post for a 1-1 scoreline.
The goal took the teams to the halftime interval, and when they resumed, coach Cornell Glen brought on Gill as an early second-half substitution in the 55th minute. The striker, then on his first touch of the ball, turned past his marker but hit his shot went wide of the post, but it signalled what Club Sando's intentions were.
After a series of constant attacks on the Connection goal area, Club Sando was rewarded for their efforts. Jones, from a free-kick from some 20 yards out, saw his curling effort take a deflection off the wall and it flew past Smith for a 2-1 lead in the 67th minute.
Still, Connection did not lay down and should have equalised for a second time in the 75th minute. From a right-side centre that put Saviola Elva on a one-on-one with goalkeeper Miles Goodman in the Club Sando goal, Elva failed to get the ball past the advancing custodian.
With the win, Club Sando moved to 41 points and ahead of Defence Force as the second-place team. To date, AC Port of Spain leads the standings with 42 points, while the Army Coast-Guard combination team is in third position with 40.
On Monday, Rangers will take on Police FC in a rescheduled fixture at 6 pm at the Phase II Recreation Ground in La Horquetta.
Club Sando 2 (Alvin Jones 8th, 67th) vs W Connection 1 ( Nathan Quashie 37th)
8*Point Fortin Civic*15*3*3*9*9*18*-9*12
11*San Juan Jaboloteh*15*2*2*11*15*34*-19*8
Alvin Jones' free kick sinks W Connection.
By Jelani Beckles (T&T Newsday).
Tiger Tanks Club Sando remained one point behind leaders AC Port of Spain in the TT Premier Football League, thanks to a 30-yard free kick from Alvin Jones against W Connection on matchday 16 at Mahaica Sporting Complex in Point Fortin on Sunday.
Jones fired home in the 67th minute to give Club Sando a 2-1 win to leapfrog back into second spot, and stay on the heels of the league leaders.
In the eighth minute, national player Jones opened the scoring with a well-taken goal. He controlled a cross with his chest in the 18-yard box and evaded a defender in the process, before finishing from eight yards out.
However, W Connection equalised through Nathan Quashie in the 38th minute. After a short corner caused havoc in the box as W Connection struggled to clear, the ball fell to Quashie who curled a shot into the far post for a 1-1 score at halftime.
In the second period, Club Sando substitute Real Gill, in his first match since transferring from Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, saw his shot blocked by a W Connection player. In an attempt to win the loose ball, W Connection's Saviola Elva handled the ball outside the box.
Jones, known for his long-distance power, went for placement this time, curling a shot over the wall and to the right of goalie Denzil Smith.
Club Sando now have 13 wins, one loss and two draws this season.
After press time on Sunday, Point Fortin Civic and San Juan Jabloteh faced off at Mahaica Sporting Complex.
After the match, Jones said, "Today we did not do that well, but the important (thing) is three points."
The top three teams at the conclusion of the league on May 28 will represent T&T at the regional tournaments.
After matchday 18, the top two clubs will qualify for the Concacaf Caribbean Cup, while the third-placed team will qualify for the Concacaf Caribbean Shield, with an opportunity to advance to the Concacaf Caribbean Cup if successful.
Jones said the focus is winning the league and the Concacaf tournaments. "As we all know from the beginning of the season, no one had Club Sando in the top three. Our focus is not just the Concacaf (Championships), but winning the league."
Club Sando coach and former national forward Cornell Glen said, "It is one of those games where we just had to grind it out. I always tell the boys not all the games you are going to blow them out of the park. I am really proud of these guys – they stuck it through."
Gill's debut impressed Glen. "Fantastic player. We are so happy to have him. He is a player for the future and we want to work on him a bit and get him ready for the national team. I think he deserves a spot on the team. He has been working hard and he has been doing the right things since he is here."
Police FC 2 (Jabari Mitchell 81, Kareem Freitas 89) v Cunupia FC 1 (Germain Hughes 54)
La Horquetta Rangers 6 (Isaiah Junior Assoon 31, 48, 67, Adica Ash 64, Tyrone Charles 84) v Central FC 1 (Ricardo John 35)
Defence Force 4 (Reon Moore 17, 22, 43-Pen, Justin Sadoo 5) v Prison FC 1 (Shaquille Kurvon Ferrier 90)
AC PoS 5 (Radanfah Abu Bakr 19, Sedale McLean 33, Duane Muckette 72, Jomoul Francois 75, Che Benny 92) v Morvant Caledonia United 1 (Joshua Alexander 41)
W Connection 1 (Nathan Quashie 38) v Club Sando 2 (Alvin Jones 8, 67)
Point Fortin Civic 3 (Marcus Joseph 51, Tyrel Emmanuel 75, Shackiel Henry 86) v San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Jadel-Josiah Carter 41, Kevon Woodley 58).