A few hours after being knocked off the top position in the T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL) by Defence Force on Thursday night, AC Port of Spain resumed as the leader by beating Central FC 3-2 at the Phase II Recreation Ground in La Horquetta.
In Thursday’s second match of a doubleheader, the men from the capital city produced another commanding performance to earn the three points, despite a fighting Central FC which ended the match-up with two goals.
As expected, the Port of Spain team forged ahead early from John-Paul Rochford in the 37th minute. Despite the AC Port of Spain’s dominance all season long, the Central Sharks, at fifth on the standings, were out to fight, evidenced by their equalising goal from Keron Cummings in the 44th minute from the penalty spot.
It was the start that the Central men, demolished by La Horquetta Rangers 6-1 a week ago, were hoping for.
Later, they took the lead for the first time in the match, courtesy of Kesean St Rose’s 66th-minute goal.
However, the men from the capital city fought back valiantly for the equaliser in the 69th minute from Jamoul Francois. Che Benny sealed the win in the 71st minute with a thunderous freekick that flashed past the goalie for the win.
AC Port of Spain will next face Cunupia FC at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, Arima. A win will assure them the top spot heading into the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield, while a battle will take place for the second spot between Club Sando (41 points) and Defence Force (43 points).
The second-place team will also contest the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield, while the team that finishes third will play in the CONCACAF Caribbean Cup.
Meanwhile, there were also wins for Police FC, 3-1 over Prison Service FC at the St James Barracks and Point Fortin Civic, who prevailed over Morvant Caledonia United 3-0 at the La Horquetta Recreation Ground.
Talented national midfielder Joevin Jones marked his return to local football with a goal in the 75th minute, which spearheaded the Police winning result.
Police FC 3 (Nathaniel Perouse 43 own goal, Joevin Jones 75th, Kadeem Hutchinson 90+6) vs Prison Services FC 1 (Akiem Bibby Bailey 70th)
AC PoS 3 (John-Paul Rochford 37th, Jamoul Francois 69th, Che Benny 71st) vs Central FC 2 (Keron Cummings 44th, Kesean St Rose 66th)
Point Fortin Civic 3 (Wesley John 9th, Tyrell Emmanuel 28th, Shackiel Henry 86th) vs Morvant Caledonia United 0
Defence Force 2 (Dwight Quintero 35th, Hashim Arcia 90+2) vs Club Sando 0
Rangers 4 (Nathaniel Garcia 29th, Junior Assoon 31st, Daniel David 46th, Tyrik Lee 90+3) vs Cunupia FC 1 (Luke Boucaud 35th)
W Connection 2 (Neil Benjamin 13th, Jahmalee Barclay 90+4) vs Jabloteh 2 (Kevon Woodley 45+1, 59th)
8*Point Fortin Civic*16*4*3*9*12*20*-8*15
11*San Juan Jaboloteh*17*2*3*12*19*39*-20*9
Che Benny's wicked strike keeps AC PoS top.
By Jelani Beckles (T&T Newsday).
A wicked freekick from AC Port of Spain midfielder Che Benny clinched a thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Central FC, to remain top of the TT Premier Football League, on matchday 17, on Thursday night.
Earlier on Thursday, Defence Force had taken the lead in the standings, for a couple hours, after getting past Tiger Tanks Club Sando 2-0 at Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
At the La Horquetta Recreation Ground, AC Port of Spain opened the scoring in the 37th minute through national midfielder John-Paul Rochford, but Keron Cummings equalised for Central FC before half-time with a 44th minute penalty.
Kesean St Rose gave Central FC their first lead of the match in the 66th minute in what started an exciting five-minute passage of play. The Central boys could only hang on to the lead for three minutes as Jamoul Francois found the target in the 69th minute.
But two minutes later, Benny grabbed the winner for AC Port of Spain with a 71st minute freekick from about 23 yards out. Benny's strike, hit with the outside of his left boot, looked headed for the top right corner but suddenly changed direction and swerved past the Central FC goalie and into the net.
AC Port of Spain now have 45 points with a record of 15 wins and two losses from 17 matches. Defence Force are second with 43 points and Club Sando are still in contention for the title with 41 points.
Two other matches were completed after press time on Thursday.
Eighth-placed Heritage Point Fortin Civic FC earned a 3-0 victory over Morvant Caledonia at the Police Barracks in St James. Wesley John gave Point Fortin an early lead in the ninth minute, before Tyrell Emmanuel doubled the team’s advantage in the 28th minute. Shackiel Henry found the back of the net in the 86th minute.
At the Ato Boldon Recreation Ground in Santa Cruz, a brace from former national beach soccer player Kevon Woodley helped struggling San Juan Jabloteh draw 2-2 with W Connection. Neil Benjamin opened the scoring in the 13th minute for W Connection, before goals by Woodley in first-half stoppage time and the 59th minute gave Jabloteh the lead.
Jabloteh seemed to do enough to win their third match of the campaign, but Jahmalee Barclay equalised in second-half stoppage time as W Connection fought back to earn a draw. Jabloteh are 11th in the 12-team standings.
Matchday 18 will be held on Sunday.
Point Fortin Civic*17*5*9*3*-5*18
W Connection vs Defence Force, Manny Ramjohn Stadium, 4 pm
Police FC vs Tiger Tanks Club Sando, Police Barracks, 4 pm
AC Port of Spain vs Cunupia FC, Larry Gomes Stadium, 4 pm
San Juan Jabloteh vs Morvant Caledonia, Ato Boldon Stadium, 4 pm
Terminix La Horquetta Rangers vs Prison Service FC, La Horquetta Recreation Ground, 6 pm
Point Fortin Civic vs Central FC, Mahaica Oval, 6 pm