GOALKEEPER Akini Adams brought off two point-blank saves on his first start for Point Fortin Civic since returning from Hungary in January with the body of his late brother, former national player Akeem Adams.
Adams’ two brilliant saves, and first half goals from strike partners Marvin Joseph and Andre Toussaint, gave second-placed Civic a 3-0 win over Police, their third victory over the Lawmen this season. W Connection’s (34 points) one-time double digit lead has now been cut to just five points by Civic (29 points), with just the final round of eight matches left in the Pro League season. Pro League leaders for most of the season, Connection played the bottom team St Ann’s Rangers yesterday.
Friday’s Marvin Lee Stadium double-header only came off due to the recruiting of substitute referees, since Pro League officials were on a two-day training course. So Roger Smith was in change of the Civic match, while Ishmeal Mohammed officiated when North East Stars edged Caledonia AIA by a 3-2 margin.
Kennedy Hinkson’s 87th minute winner proved the difference for Stars, who always seem to beat “Cali” lately. Trevin Caesar twice had Stars ahead, before Cali twice rallied from behind with goals from Densill Theobald. Veteran T&T national team midfielder Theobald had just pulled Caledonia square at 2-2 with a deflected shot, when attacking wide midfielder Hinkson put in the rebound, following a spill of Lemuel Lyons’ shot by Shemel Louison, Caledonia’s Grenadian keeper.
Stars moved fourth to 26 points, joint third with Central FC who had a better goal difference.
Earlier, Adams twice kept Civic in a match that was very close, except for the goals. Starting ahead of regular number one and T&T national keeper Marvin Phillip, Adams blocked what looked a sure goal from Police striker Jameel Perry in the eighth minute, and almost duplicated the save against the same player in the second half.
Adams’ effort and swarming, suffocating defending ensured Civic withstood some early Police pressure before superior finishing separated the otherwise closely matched teams. The Pro League’s top-scorer Marcus Joseph, was having just his first touch when he scored the game’s opening goal in the 21st minute – his 12th league goal of the season.
Cutting inside the left-back Jasimar Ashers, midfielder-turned-forward Joseph got onto his favoured left foot and ripped a powerful low shot past Police custodian Adrian Foncette from the top of the penalty area.
Foncette touched over another Joseph shot soon after, before Joseph set up a second goal for his strike partner Toussaint. Running wide onto a superb pass from teenaged wide midfielder Akeem Redhead, Joseph picked out Toussaint with a first-time ball across the box, and the latter needed only to apply a gentle touch to make the score 2-0 in the 38th minute.
Police missed suspended former T&T playmaker Trent Noel, and also lost their other key central midfielder and injured captain Todd Ryan at the half. Still, the Lawmen chased the game in the second half, and in so doing allowed both Joseph and Toussaint the occasional chance on the counter-attack, before Karim Balthazar flicked in Joseph’s corner for a third Civic goal in the final minute.
UPCOMING DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE MATCHES:
Defence Force v Central FC, Larry Goimes Stadium, 4 p.m.
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE RESULTS:
Point Fortin Civic 3 (Marcus Joseph 21, André Toussaint 38, Karim Balthazar 90’+) Police 0
North East Stars 3 (Trevin Caesar 7 & 71, Kennedy Hinkson 87) Caledonia AIA 2 (Densil Theobold (32 & 85)