Under the circumstances, Police gave more than a reasonable effort when narrowly losing a Digicel Pro League top-of-the-table clash 2-1 against leaders Directv W Connection at the Hasely Crawford Stadium (HCS) on Friday night.
The police are under pressure--rom the criminal elements, Government and even the population. Friday’s match might well be the Police Football Club’s last Pro League action in some time, if the politicians and a rising crime level eventually stop them playing sport. Already, Defence Force management have stopped all their teams competing to give support to the police.
Off-field concerns notwithstanding, the lawmen took the fight to W Connection with a combination of raw physical and creative play before Elijah Belgrave’s 14th minute goal gave them a deserved 1-0 lead, after they had dominated the opening 20 minutes. However, just past the half hour mark, a curler to the far corner from teenager Neil Benjamin Jr. drew W Connection level at 1-1 and the St Kitts-Nevis captain and defensive midfielder Gerard Williams won the match by converting a disputed second half
Having looked unconvincing for the first half hour, Connection dominated the rest of the match, which saw both scorer Benjamin and former Finland-based striker Shahdon Winchester put shots off the woodwork. And as Police defenders abandoned their posts in the search for an equaliser, W Connection also missed a couple of quality chances to further add to the score late in the match.
Police looked inspired at times in the first quarter-hour, stringing neat quick passes between Trent Noel, Todd Ryan and also swung the ball in quickly on either flank through Akiba Peters and Joel Lewis. The lawmen forcefully contested every moment, sometimes getting there very late and putting in a series of biting tackles via left-back Dexter Alleyne and Peters. One sensed referee Ghasi McDonald was restraining himself from using the yellow card more often, because of the occasion. W Connection were not happy with the official, and never needing an invitation, centre-back Daneil Cyrus shaped to fight.
Police were deservedly ahead when Belgrave’s mid-range shot kept moving away from goalkeeper Jelani Archibald before finding the corner.
Flat in the early part of the match, W Connection came close in the 29th minute when Winchester shot onto the crossbar after taking Jerrel Britto’s pass from wide, and two minutes later they were level at 1-1 when Benjamin spectacularly found the far corner of the net with a shot from wide.
Police proved far more difficult opposition for Connection than in the past, so much so, that Britto was wildly congratulated by teammates when he won a penalty after Christon Thomas cut him down at the edge of the penalty area. Williams converted, despite Police protests that the foul took place outside the box. And late in the match, Hasim Arcia had a miscued chip headed out of the goal by defender Alleyne running back, and Benjamin’s pace also gave W Connection a few more chances which they wasted.