Matthew Hagley of the TT Defence Force retained the Men’s title at the 2016 NAAA Cross Country Championships at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Sunday.
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Central FC seven points clear
Goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke was mostly at fault as inform Marcus Joseph’s first-half strike was enough to earn defending champions Bankers Insurance Central FC a 1-0 win over Defence Force in their top-of-the-table Digicel T&T Pro League on Friday night.
This was in the first match of a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, which was preceded by an entertaining 2-2 draw between former champions, DirecTV W Connection and Morvant Caledonia United. With one eye on the start of their defence of their Caribbean Football Union Club Championship crown in Jamaica next week, Central FC was eager to extend its four point lead at the top over second placed Defence Force while extending its winning streak to 12 matches on the trot.
The Dale Saunders-coached team was gifted all three points in a the heated encounter when Joseph’s tame left footed effort from the edge of the area slipped through the grasp of Clarke to the dismay of his team-mates after just 13 minutes.
It was the seventh consecutive goal netted by out-of-favour T&T international forward which took his league tally to 13, while his side boasts an seven-game winning streak and undefeated in their last 13 games.
Joseph did not go the full 90 minutes though as he was replaced at the half-time interval after picking up a knock on his left knee in the 24th minute.
The win pushed Central FC’s tally to 46 points from 24 matches, seven clear of second-positioned Defence Force and ten points ahead of third-positioned W Connection, which wasted a number of chances in a 2-2 draw with Morvant Caledonia United.
Central FC now departs for Jamaica on Tuesday where it will face Cayman Islands’ Scholars International SC on March 11 and hosts Montego Bay United on March 13 in Group Three of their CFU Club Championship preliminary round qualifiers at the Montego Bay Sporting Complex.
W Connection, without a number of players including attacking midfielders Jomal Williams and Andre Toussaint and defensive midfielder Briel Thomas who impressed during their CFU Club Championship group stage successful campaign at the same venue last week struggled to get into their stride and fell further off the pace. Guyana duo Kareem Knights and Pernell Schultz handed Caledonia on a 2-0 cushion before the break.
Teenager Knights volleyed past goalkeeper Julani Archibald off an Antonio Joseph cross on 13 minutes for his first ever Caledonia goal, and a minute before the half-time whistle Schultz later converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after his earlier strike crashed off the arm of Connection defensive midfielder Gerard Williams at the edge of the area.
Referee Keilon Bacchus pointed to the spot after consulting his assistant and W Connection were behind by two goals heading into the break.
However, Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s men stormed back in the second half to level the scores 2-2 and could have produced a win, had it not been for the heroics of former W Connection goalkeeper Marvin Phillip between the Caledonia uprights.
Phillip had produced two excellent saves, denying Shahdon Winchester and Kurt Frederick early in the second half, but there was little the Trinidad and Tobago international could do when Winchester found the far bottom corner getting beyond defender Leslie Russell.
Winchester turned provider in the 62nd-minute slipping a pass behind Russell inside the area to pick out an oncoming Dimitrie Apai and the Suriname international was clinical to beat a hapless Phillip.
Phillip had the last say, denying the Apai and Winchester further goals in the 68th-minute and stoppage-time, respectively.
In yesterday’s matches, Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh and Pt Fortin Civic clashed at Barataria Recreation Ground while St Ann’s Rangers and Club Sando squared off at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, and today, North East Stars meet Police FC at Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar from 4pm.
Morvant Caledonia Utd 2 (Kareem Knights 13th, Pernell Schultz 44th pen) vs W Connection 2 (Shahdon Winchester 55th, Dimitrie Apai 62nd)
Central FC 1 (Marcus Joseph 13th) vs Defence Force 0