W CONNECTION opened up a five-point gap between themselves and the rest of the pack after a 3-0 triumph over Caledonia AIA/Fire in the third round of the T&T Pro League on Tuesday. In the other game of the doubleheader at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima, Defence Force and North East Stars battled to a goalless draw while at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, United Petrotrin withstood a late rally from Tobago United to prevail 3-2. Caledonia completely dominated proceedings in the first half, with Connection’s goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa blocking a point-blank drive from Devon Modeste in the 17th while, in the 34th, enigmatic midfielder Kerwyn “Hardest” Jemmott send his freekick wide off the mark. But the “Savonetta Boys” responded with three goals in the space of eight minutes.
During a 56th minute counter-attack, Andre Toussaint found a lurking David Atiba Charles on the right and the Trinidad and Tobago defender thundered his low right-footer past the reach of Fire’s goalkeeper Michael Woods. Three minutes later, a failed clearance by Fire’s captain Anthony Haynes fell to Connection’s midfielder Gefferson Goulart, who found Kendall Davis in the box and his drive was deflected home by skipper Earl Jean. And, in the 64th, a right-side centre by Toussaint was delicately back-heeled home by Davis.
Defence Force were made to feel hard done by in the 27th minute when referee Neal Brizan refused to award a penalty after striker Kevon Carter was impeded by defender Howard Lowe. But North East Stars had a number of chances to take the lead — in the 36th, Abassi McPherson’s header from a Fabien Garcia corner was cleared off the line by Army captain Kelshall Alexander; in the 40th, Garcia’s 20-metre shot sailed overbar; in the 41st, Anthony Wolffe dribbled past two defenders and, with only goalie Cleon John to beat, sent his blast overbar; in the 47th, Garcia fed Jerren Nixon but the striker’s right-footed effort went wide. In the 55th, national defender Anton Pierre rifled his 20-metre freekick inches past Trevor Nottingham in the North East’s goal but the 2004 winners muffed three more opportunities to snatch full points.
After Nixon dispossessed Pierre on the left flank in the 73rd, the veteran striker sent his cross into the box, with McPherson missing his initial effort while Garcia’s follow-up whizzed past the bar. Five minutes later, John saved Nixon’s freekick while, from the subsequent corner by Garcia, McPherson boomed his header overbar. With goals from Kennedy Hinkson (61st and 80th) and Willan Garcia (71st), Petrotrin seemed to have their game sewn up against the lads from the sister isle. The “Oil Boys” eventually did walk away with full points, but not before they were on the receiving end from strikes by Michael Bailey (83rd) and Noel Williams (90th).