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Rijssel guides W Connection to Pro Bowl crown
Forward Stefano Rijssel scored twice and set up another, scored by Joevin Jones, as recently crowned Digicel Pro League champions W Connection wrapped up the 2013-2014 season by winning the Digicel Pro Bowl title 3-0 against Police at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Friday night. The “Savonnetta Boys”, also the winners of this season’s Digicel Charity Shield, Toyota Classic and FA Trophy titles, claiming their fourth major title and fifth overall this season against an unfamiliar finalist Police FC despite a valiant performance by the “Lawmen” goalkeeper Adrian Foncette. The St Kitts/Nevis international added, “First full season (as captain) and it’s great to bring home five titles. But I must give thanks to my teammates for the respect and attitude they showed to me as captain. I feel proud.”
Police and Foncette, a former Trinidad and Tobago Under 20 goalkeeper, held themselves together creditably for the first half against a side that boasts the title-winning pedigree but later realised the superior quality and fitness of their opponents. In a space of three minutes inside the second half, Police, contesting their first Final in 18 years, were trailing 2-0 after surrendering to the firepower of Connection. Suriname international Rijssel broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute for a 1-0 advantage after blasting low past Foncette and into the far netting following a lapse in defence by Police. Rijssel then became provider in the 54th minute when his cross from the left and into the area was hammered into the back of the net by midfielder (J) Jones for a 2-0 cushion following another defensive lapse by the “Lawmen”.
But Connection, the 2004, 2007 and 2013 winners, were lifted by a two-goal advantage and continued to dominate the second period towards their fourth Pro Bowl title. Goalscorer (J) Jones returned a goal-scoring favour for Rijssel with a low cross behind the Police defence in the 70th minute but Foncette pulled off a one-handed save. Four minutes later Foncette, who is coached by his father Glennon Foncette, made back-to-back point-blank saves denying Connection left-fullback Kurt Frederick, before the St Lucia international lifted his third try overbar.
Foncette made another save in the 76th minute denying (J) Jones, who also had wide efforts in the 26th and 89th minutes. But on the 78th minute Foncette was hung out to dry, and Rijssel completed his double and Connection’s 3-0 score-line.
Substitutes Christian Viveros and Neil Benjamin Jr had combined on the right, before the latter sent a low cross that somehow made its way through the Police defence to find a free Rijssel, who hit past Foncette from the top of the six yard area. Rijssel was deservingly named the Player of the Match, and although Foncette only walked away with a runners-up medal, had won the hearts of many the showed up at the Hasely Crawford Stadium to witness the final match of the 2013-2014 Pro League calendar. Police seemed very dependent on 38-year-old former Toyota/TT Pro League Player of the Year and ex-Trinidad and Tobago international Trent Noel and Ryan in midfield. And as expected the midfield duo wasn’t a match for a much, much younger and exceedingly fit W Connection, while lone Police forward Jameel Perry was starved of the ball. Police FC forward Jameel Perry, who scored a hat-trick against San Juan Jabloteh in his team's 4-2 quarterfinal round and a double against Defence Force in a 4-2 semi-final win, stood as the tournament’s top scorer with 5 goals. He did not score in the finals.