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Jones, Apai rescue Connection
Soca Warriors midfielder Joevin Jones and recent Surinamese signing Dimitrie Apai rescued a point for DirecTV W Connection against Central FC in a 2-2 Digicel T&T Pro League draw at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Tuesday night.
Central FC, beaten by the four-time Pro League champion in the first round, looked well set to avenge that loss after goals from former W Connection duo, Willis Plaza and Jason Marcano, in the 31st and 74th, handed the “Sharks” a 2-0 lead.
However, with three minutes left in the match, referee Michael London turned the match on its head with a soft penalty call against Central FC’s Leston Paul on Jones, which the latter converted off the fingers of goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams before Apai’s equaliser, three minutes into time added on with a far post header from a Shahdon Winchester cross.
Earlier on, Central FC which also went under to its opponent in the T&T Football Federation FA Trophy competition 6-5 on penalty-kicks after a 2-2 draw, started the brighter of both teams with Plaza forcing W Connection goalkeeper Julani Archibald into a low save after a poor clearance by defender Daneil Cyrus.
Central continued its confident start and in the 22nd minute came close again, with Darren Mitchell hitting the cross-bar.
However, his team’s tactics were thwarted somewhat when he was forced to replace Ataullah Guerra due to a shoulder injury from a collision with Jones, with his national team-mate Rundell Winchester.
The switch came as a blessing in disguise as within a blink of an eye, the speedy Winchester surged down the right flank and centre for Plaza to tap home through the legs of Archibald for a deserved 1-0 lead in the 31st minute.
Four minutes before the half, Jones had his team’s best effort of the half but Williams was equal to the task to preserve his team’s advantage while at the other end of the field Archibald was also called into action to keep out an attempt from Samuel Delice off a Mitchell pass.
On the resumption, Central picked up where it left off with Winchester having two chances to extend his team’s lead, the first was blocked by Archibald while he hit the rebound wide of the target.
W Connection, coming off its first league loss of the season 2-1 away to Pt Fortin Civic, also created a few nervous moments for the otherwise steady Central defence with striker Hashim Arcia somehow turning a cross from Joevin’s brother, Alvin Jones onto the bar in the 56th minute followed by Plaza’s firing wide and then Alvin again skewing his effort.
Those missed efforts would come back to haunt W Connection as Marcano slotted in his team’s second in the 74th minute after some neat build-up play between, Winchester, Plaza and Paul.
But Central then played into the hands of W Connection with defender Mekeil Williams showing the first signs of his team’s come-back intentions by crashing a header off the crossbar after goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams blocked out his first effort.
With five minutes left, Central was still in control and destined for maximum points, that is until London’s bizarre call for a penalty and then 19-year-old Apai’s header to the delight of his team-mates and dismay of Central’s players and their irate coach, Englishman Terry Fenwick.
Despite the two points dropped, W Connection still leads with 33 points from 14 matches, ten more than Pt Fortin Civic which was on a bye while Police jumped to third with 21 points after a 1-0 win over St Ann’s Rangers in the opener at Couva thanks to a 74th minute Jameel Perry strike from a Clevon Mc Phee centre.
However, Rangers had only themselves to blame for not picking up a point at least after Michael Yaw Darko blasted a penalty against the post, following referee Dennis Changiah penalising defender Josimar Ashers for his pull on Josh Toussaint inside the area.
Up at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya, North East Stars wasted a chance to move into third spot after it was held to a 0-0 draw by second from bottom San Juan Jabloteh.
Venue: Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva:
St Ann’s Rangers vs North East Stars, 6 pm
Jabloteh vs Central FC, 8 pm
Pt Fortin Civic vs Caledonia AIA,
Mahaica Oval, Pt Fortin, 3.30 pm
North East Stars 0 vs San Juan Jabloteh 0
Police 1 (Jameel Perry 74th) vs St Ann’s Rangers 0
Central FC 2 (Willis Plaza 31st, Jason Marcano 74th) vs W Connection 2 (Joevin Jones 87th pen, Dimitrie Apai 93rd)
Teams P W D L F A Pts
W Connection 14 10 3 1 30 9 33
Pt Fortin 14 7 2 5 21 15 23
Police 14 6 3 5 19 20 21
Caledonia 13 5 5 3 21 14 20
N/East Stars 13 5 4 4 12 9 19
Central FC 13 3 8 2 16 14 17
Defence Force 8 4 1 3 15 14 13
Jabloteh 14 3 2 9 18 30 11
Rangers 13 1 0 12 11 38 3