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W Connection battles past Police
DirecTV W Connection stayed on course for a fifth Digicel Pro League crown after it registered a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Police in their top-of-the-clash in the first match of a double-header at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Friday night. With the win, W Connection improved to 23 points from nine matches, nine ahead of new second placed team North East Stars which battled to a 0-0 draw away to Pt Fortin Civic FC at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin, yesterday while Police is next with 13 points, the same as Defence Force which has a match hand. Caledonia AIA and Central FC are next with 13 points each after a 1-1 draw in the second match on Friday, and at the other end of the table, Jabloteh’s eked out a 1-0 win over St Ann’s Rangers with a 52nd minute Kerry Baptiste, his league-high eight of the campaign to join Pt Fortin on ten points. Going into the Friday’s match, Police coach Richard Hood was confident that his team would end a run of two 1-0 losses this campaign to W Connection and pull off a win.
However, it was double disappointment for the Lawmen” who remained with 13 points as they received official notice of a suspension of all sporting activities until further notice prior to kick off due to an alarming crime rate. Already defending league champion Defence Force, another arm of the T&T Ministry of National Security has received a stand-down order on all sporting activities.
The directive is linked to the T&T government’s reaction to gruesome spate of 22 murders to date in 2014. Defence Force, on a bye this weekend, and Police were hampered by a limited State of Emergency (SoE) issued by the same Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration back in 2011 (August-November). Defence Force, along with Caledonia, are scheduled to represent T&T in the Caribbean qualifying to the 2014/2015 CCL, which should begin in less than two months. In a media statement on Friday, civil military affairs officer Major Al Alexander advised that “with immediate effect, all T&T Defence Force’s involvement in national, regional and community type/level sporting activities is suspended in favour of the operational exigencies of the service and because of the particular requirements that our personnel are expected to satisfy. “This self-imposed suspension will last as long as is deemed necessary by the Force.” Alexander later added that the move was taken to “lend support to the police in the fight against crime.”
As for Police and coach Hood, who are having their best showing in recent years, and inactivity now could lead to extreme disappointment. Hood’s side took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute of play when a deflected Elijah Belgrave strike found its way past an unfortunate W Connection goalkeeper Julani Archibald who was called into action two minutes to parry away a Trent Noel free-kick.
W Connection came close to drawing level first through striker Hashim Arcia, who slipped on a great chances in the 25th minute, and strike partner Shahdon Winchester, who shaved the crossbar before Neil Benjamin Jr struck past goalkeeper Adrian Foncette and into the far corner for a 1-1 scoreline. Winchester could have given his team a 2-1 lead at the half, but the former Finland-based player curled his attempt just high over the crossbar. Within seconds of the restart Jerrel Britto’s strike from close range from a Benjamin pass was miraculously cleared off the line by defender Christon Thomas, while the rebound was directed into the net by Benjamin, however he was in an offside position, ruling the goal null and void. Foncette was now under seige from W Connection and he did well to keep his team level a few minutes later when he acrobatically guided wide a blast from Alvin Jones, who’s older brother and national midfielder Joevin Jones and defender Mekeil Williams were both omitted from the squad prior to the start by W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier after the pair opted not to travel with the team bus to the venue.
W Connection’s pressure eventually brought reward in the 70th minute when the lively Britto won a penalty just inside the area following a foul by Thomas in the clear view of referee Gyasi Mc Donald. The spot kick was confidently converted by W Connection captain and defensive midfielder Gerard Williams of St Kitts/Nevis past Foncette for a 2-1 lead and six minutes from time he played provider for Benjamin, who stuck the crossbar while in the final minute, Police defender Dexter Alleyne cleared off the line, a lobbed Hashim Arcia effort, which had goalkeeper Foncette beaten. In the second match, despite the absence of coach Terry Fenwick Jason Marcano handed Central a 1-0 advantage three minutes before the break when his first-time strike, on a patient Johan Peltier pass inside the area, stunned the Morvant/ Laventille club, especially goalkeeper Shemel Louison. After missing a few chances earlier on Caledonia finally drew level at 1-1 in the 56th minute with a converted penalty by Densil Theobald after referee Neil Brizan awarded the kick following a push on Aubrey David by former team-mate Ataullah Guerra in the middle of the penalty area. Goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams later kept Central in the game by pulling off a magnificent save to deny substitute Tyrone Charles' free-kick from 26-yards out.
Central FC ended the match with ten men as three minutes into time added defender Jamal Jack was shown a direct red card following a late sliding tackle on Caledonia substitute Keyon Edwards.
Friday: W Connection 2 (Neil Benjamin Jr 31st, Gerard Williams 70th pen) vs Police 1 (Elijah Belgrave 14th)
Caledonia 1 (Densil Theobald 56th pen) vs Central FC 1 (Jason Marcano 42nd)
Yesterday: San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Kerry Baptiste 52nd) vs St Ann’s Rangers 0
Point Fortin Civic 0 vs North East Stars 0
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