Two flashes of brilliance from Trinidad and Tobago attacker Andre Toussaint settled a tense affair at the Palo Seco Recreation Ground yesterday evening as W. Connection edged United Petrotrin 2-1 in Lucozade Big Six action despite the inconvenience of playing much of the second half with ten players.
Petrotrin supporters felt certain they might have done even better had Trinidad and Tobago's rising star, Keon Daniel, bothered to turn up. Daniel, who is the leading scorer for the "Soca Warriors" in their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign thus far, also failed to show for a decisive fixture against St Ann's Rangers last week, which Petrotrin won to secure their Big Six place.
"I don't know where he is," said Petrotrin technical director and former national player and coach, Edgar Vidale. "Apparently he does not like this field."
Petrotrin supporters, who packed the small Palo Seco arena, were more blunt.
"Like Keon only playing for the national team," said one fan. "After we picked him up from Tobago, he turned his back on we. He too ungrateful. I want them to fire him."
Petrotrin plodded away without their best player but their southern neighbours, expectedly, had the monopoly on inspiration in the first half.
Connection could have scored twice in the opening 15 minutes as Teba McKnight struck an upright, while Hughtun Hector hit wide when clear through the Petrotrin defence.
Six minutes before the halftime interval, Toussaint made his first installment on the result as he chased his own rebound and faked Petrotrin goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel with a "Cruyff turn"-he shaped to go forward and hooked the ball behind his standing leg-before crossing for midfielder Clyde Leon to head home.
"It's five freekicks we got in the first half," said one irate Petrotrin supporter. "We would have been three goals up if Keon was here!"
He would swallow his words, ten minutes into the second half, as Petrotrin left back Lyndon Diaz brought the "Oilmen" level with a tremendous free kick.
Connection left back Andrei Pacheco took exception to a decision by referee Julian Drayton and was punished with an early trip to the showers for "foul and abusive language", but there still seemed little immediate danger from the set piece deep on Petrotrin's right flank.
Diaz spotted a shooting opportunity, though, and his powerful left footer surprised Connection and Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, who was beaten at his near post.
Petrotrin supporters erupted but their joy was unlikely to last. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Connection continued to fashion opportunities and Samuel pulled off a hat-trick of fine saves before Toussaint cut in from the left flank and blasted past him for the winner in the 79th minute.
It kept Connection in the hunt but they would hope for a more comfortable time against bmobile Joe Public tomorrow at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. Not that they are likely to get it, of course.
North East Stars 3 (Leslie Fitzpatrick 7, Anthony Wolfe 17, Carlos Gonzales 26) v Caledonia AIA 2 (Conrad Smith 4, Walter Moore 71)
United Petrotrin 1 (Lyndon Diaz 39) v W Connection 2 (Clyde Leon 55, Andre Toussaint 78)
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Marvin Oliver 57, Jerol Forbes 65) v Joe Public 1 (Kerry Baptiste 86)