W Connection’s ambition to dethrone bitter Couva rivals Central FC in the race for the truncated 2016-17 Digicel Pro League crown received a much needed boost on Friday night when the Savonetta Boys whipped Defence Force 4-1 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Suriname international Dimitrie Apai bagged a double by netting on either side of the break, only separated by teammate Jamal Charles’ first half strike, before setting up Connection’s final item scored by Neil Benjamin Jr.
Connection, on 34 points and four games left, moved to the top of the standings for the first time this season while celebrating a fourth consecutive win.
However the taste at the top for coach Stuart Charles Fevrier’s men could be temporary with Central (32 points), who have led the table all of this season, returning to action against fifth-positioned Ma Pau Stars today (Saturday) from 3:30pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium.
The Couva Sharks, also with a rescheduled game in hand against Defence Force, are hoping to make history by becoming the first team to lift a third successive Pro League crown.
But with former champions Connection determined to put their hands on the title later this month, an exciting race to the end is on the forecast.
Electrifying was Apai. The Surinamese forward put Connection 1-0 ahead 20 seconds into play after catching Defence Force cold. Apai controlled an intelligent Kevon Goddard pass with one foot and with the other foot quickly fired low past goalkeeper Andre Marchan.
Grenada international Charles, coming off a last week’s hat-trick against Club Sando, handed Connection a 2-0 cushion in the 33rd minute which lasted into the break.
Apai, though, wasn’t done. The diminutive attacker completed a wonderful team move to make it 3-0 four minutes into the second half with his eighth league goal this term—six of them coming in his last four appearances.
Apai then turned provider just before the hour mark when he slipped a pass into the left of the area and Benjamin made it 4-0 with a brilliant left-footed strike past Marchan.
Defence Force, fourth on the standings with 19 points, finally found a consolation item through defender Jamali Garcia, who headed in a Devorn Jorsling corner for a 4-1 finish.
Jorsling, who leads the league scorers’ list this season with nine goals, saw his first-half free kick pushed behind by Connection goalie Julani Archibald and eight minutes from time he was denied by the crossbar.
Defence Force’s miserable night was compounded in stoppage-time when referee Joel Cox issued ‘keeper Marchan a direct red card for a high boot challenge on Andre Toussaint some forty yards away from the goalmouth. An ugly end for this season’s First Citizens Cup champions who entered play on a six-game winning streak in all competitions.
In the earlier game of the Hasely Crawford Stadium double-header, Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 forward Nion Lammy rescued cellar-placed Point Fortin Civic to a 1-1 draw with St. Ann’s Rangers.
Rangers had led through midfielder Jameel Antoine who redeemed himself after squandering a excellent first half opportunity by volleyed past Civic custodian Miles Goodman off a substitute Kathon St Hillare’s right side cross in the 58th minute.
But Lammy struck in the 75th minute when he directed a substitute Jeremiah Kesar’s hard-worked cross past goalkeeper Cleon John to level the score.
It was only the third point for Civic this season, who remain anchored at the bottom, while seventh-placed Rangers join Police FC on 16 points.
Police, sixth on the table, travel to third-positioned Jabloteh (23 points) today (Saturday) in the second game of a double-header at Barataria Recreation Ground while tail-enders Morvant Caledonia United and Club Sando must battle each other in the first game.
Digicel Pro League 2016-2017
Round Two Match Day Five
Friday’s (13 January 2017) results
St. Ann’s Rangers 1 (Jameel Antoine 58’) vs Point Fortin Civic 1 (Nion Lammy 75’), at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Defence Force 1 (Jamali Garcia 64’) vs W Connection 4 (Dimitrie Apai 1’, 49’, Jamal Charles 33’, Neil Benjamin Jr. 58’), at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Round Two Match Day Five
Saturday 14 January 2017
Barataria Recreation Ground
Morvant Caledonia United vs Club Sando—5pm;
San Juan Jabloteh vs Police FC—7pm;
Larry Gomes Stadium
Central FC vs Ma Pau Stars—3:30pm.
Teams at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday
St. Ann’s Rangers: 1.Cleon John (GK), 7.Sedale Mc Lean (21.Josh Toussaint 46th minute), 8.Jameel Antoine, 11.Kazim Donald (26.Kathon St Hillare 46th minute), 16.Richard Williams (Yellow Card), 23.Micah Lansiquot, 24.Jesse Williams, 28.Shakiyl Phillip (Capt.) (Yellow Card), 30.Lester Durham, 31.Rushawn Murphy, 32.Marvin Lee (14.Kyle Bartholomew 79th minute).
Unused substitutes: 10.Devon Modeste, 22.Christopher Biggette (GK), 29.Keshawn Hutchinson, 33.Osaze Springer.
Coach: Anthony Streete
Point Fortin Civic: 22.Miles Goodman (GK), 3.Kurfri Pierre, 4.Keron Neptune (26.Jeremiah Kesar 57th minute), 6.Shane Garraway (Yellow Card), 8.Akeem Redhead, 13.Shevon Abraham, 27.Darnell Hospidales (2.Ancil Wells 69th minute), 28.Nion Lammy, 35.Reigh Alexander (Yellow Card), 36.Chad Mark, 38.Jamal John.
Unused substitutes: 23.Shaquille Stewart, 40.Tevin Moore (GK), 99.Tereek Joseph.
Coach: Dick Furlonge
Referee: CJ O’Brien
Assistant Referee 1: Kareem Mc Mayo
Assistant Referee 2: Annaz Mohammed
Fourth Official: Keilon Bacchus
Defence Force: 1.Andre Marchan (GK) (Red Card), 3.Jamali Garcia, 6.Rodell Elcock, 8.Christopher Durity (14,Darryl Trim 86th minute), 9.Devorn Jorsling, 10.Hashim Arcia, 12.Jemel Sebro (39.Akil Morris 60th minute), 13.Marvin Jones (Yellow Card) (2.Glynn Franklyn 70th minute), 17.Curtis Gonzales (Yellow Card), 21.Aklie Edwards, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.).
Unused substitutes: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 19.Thurlani George, 20.Levi Serries, 37.Cassim Kellar.
Coach: Marvin Gordon
W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald (GK) (Yellow Card), 2.Kurt Frederick (14.Andre Toussaint 27th minute), 3.Gerard Williams (Capt.), 4.Maurice Ford, 8.Briel Thomas, 10.Dimitrie Apai, 11.Neil Benjamin Jr. (17.Aikim Andrews 68th minute), 16.Alvin Jones, 20.Jamal Charles (26.Shaquille Bertrand 86th minute), 23.Kevon Goddard, 27.Jelani Peters (Yellow Card).
Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 21.Ronell Paul, 28.Mickell Charles, 30.Shaquille John.
Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier
Referee: Joel Cox
Assistant Referee 1: Oladelle Thomas
Assistant Referee 2: Nicholas Noray
Fourth Official: Rashby Mc Phie