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Jones’ brace secures W Connection fifth title
National midfielder Joevin Jones netted in either half as DirecTV W Connection clinched the $1 million 2013/2014 Digicel T&T Pro League crown with a convincing 4-1 win over last year’s winners Defence Force in a top-of-the-table clash at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, on Tuesday night.
Going into the match, the W Connection “Savonetta Boys” held a one-point lead over the defending champion with a match left after their second meeting in five days following a 2-2 draw at the same venue on Friday.
Suriname’s Stefano Rijssel and Hashim Arcia added a goal each for W Connection to help secure a fifth league crown in the club’s 15-year history.
W Connection previously lifted the Pro League crown in 2005, 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 and twice in the previous Professional Football League (2000 and 2001) while for the first time in the history of the professional league they walked away with the historic winners’ prize.
W Connection, which once led the standings by 15-points this season, secured the title with 49 points, four points clear of the Army/Coast-Guard combination with just one match remaining.
Finding it difficult to express his joy, W Connection owner/president David John-Williams stuttered saying: “It’s our 15th anniversary. We recently lost the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield, and people doubted this team.”
It did not take long for the Stuart Charles-Fevrier-coached W Connection to show they meant business against a depleted Defence Force in front of a crowd of some 3,000 spectators as Suriname forward Rijssel fired his team ahead as early as the fourth minute with a 22-yard left-footed blast past a fully stretched Defence Force goalkeeper Kevin Graham.
In the 31st minute, the "Savonetta Boys" doubled their lead when Jones (Joevin) robbed his national team-mate Curtis Gonzalves of possession in midfield, and played a one-two with Rijssel before he drilled his effort past Graham from inside the 18-yard box.
Despite being outplayed up to that point, Defence Force, without the injured trio of Aklie Edwards, Dave Long and Jemel Sebro, managed to pull a goal back through Josimar Belgrave in the 37th minute when he latched onto a Kerry Joseph pass to beat W Connection custodian Julani Archibald.
However, Belgrave and his team-mates joy was shortlived as a minute later forward Arcia restored W Connection's two-goal cushion at 3-1 at half-time, striking past Graham off a feed from the impressive Rijssel.
On the resumption, W Connection continued its dominance with Kurt Frederick forcing Graham into a save in the 53rd minute to keep the score at 3-1 and in the 67th minute the Defence Force custodian again came to his team’s aid, this time denying Jones (Joevin) from a second and his team’s fourth.
Three minutes later, Defence Force’s task got even much more difficult when talismanic striker, Devorn Jorsling, who only returned to action in Friday’s 2-2 draw re-injured his hamstring and had to be replaced by Balondemu Julius, who almost made a stunning entry with an acrobatic attempt which flew over-bar, in the 83rd minute.
At the other end, Graham was still under siege and denied W Connection’s substitute Neil Benjamin Jr a one-on-one effort with his legs, however with four minutes left, Graham was finally beaten for a fourth time on the night with a clever chip from distance by Jones (Joevin) off a centre from Arcia to complete a 4-1 spanking.
Despite relinquishing hold of the title Defence Force coach, Ross Russell was happy that his team was able to recover from so many obstacles this campaign and push W Connection all the way.
With the win, W Connection also secured one of two places available to local clubs to compete in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship, which is the qualifying competition towards the Concacaf Champions League, and a tournament it has won three times.
On the other hand, Defence Force needs just one point against San Juan Jabloteh on the final match-day next Tuesday to finish second and grab the other qualifying spot ahead of Central FC which faces St Ann's Rangers.
In Tuesday’s first match, Central missed a chance to put some pressure on the top two after being held to a 0-0 draw by lowly Jabloteh.
Down at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, the two scheduled matches were cancelled by match officials due to inadequately marked playing fields. North East Stars were scheduled to meet cellar positioned St Ann’s Rangers, and Caledonia AIA against Point Fortin Civic.