Trinidad and Tobago international midfielder Joevin Jones further emphasised his emergence as W Connection's best player this season with a hat-trick that led the defending champions to a 5-2 victory over Police, while the pressure is definitely now on Digicel Pro League leaders Defence Force who dropped crucial points when they were held 1-1 by the league's whipping boys T&TEC on Friday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
A week ago, Defence Force (33 pts) were nine points clear of second-placed Caledonia AIA and after beating W Connection 2-1 on February 15, Army head coach Ross Russell was quoted as being delighted to have knocked W Connection out of the title race. Now with just seven match-days left in the season, W Connection (25 points) are now just seven points adrift in third spot, having won twice last week. And Caledonia will be just three points behindDefence Force after last night's match, if they succeeded in beating Rangers for the second time in four days.
On Friday, Defence Force appeared to be coasting to an unspectacular win over Police after striker Devorn Jorsling put them ahead in the 14th minute with a close range shot. But Jorsling later missed a chance with T&TEC keeper Akini Adams at his mercy in the 21st minute.
Second half substitute Josimar Belgrave also contributed two glaring misses after twice being well set up by Richard Roy. Only the Army's lack of decisiveness kept T&TEC in the match. And when two "Army" defenders appeared to collide, the ball fell kindly for Glen Sutton who punished the leaders by rounding goalkeeper Kevin Graham and scoring in the 90th minute. Total joy for the T&TEC team.
Meanwhile, Connection were surprised by a lively Police side. The lawmen scored as early as the sixth minute when Jameel Perry put in a low shot from a corner-kick and they continued to dominate early play. But two goal-scoring bursts saw W Connection rally strongly to lead 4-1 at the half.
Strikers Hasim Arcia and Andrei Pacheco both netted within a three-minute period. First, Arcia struck from the centre of the penalty area by kissing a shot off the far upright in the 17th minute and Pacheco put in the rebound after Arcia again struck the upright in the 20th. Jones scored twice in the first half, before completing his hat-trick with a wickedly bending free-kick in the second session. First, he beat Police keeper Jamaal Francois to a ball played into the penalty area in the 37th minute. He then finished on the far post in the 40th, after a superb build-up between Arcia and Surinamese midfielder Stefano Rijssell.
A pair of superb free-kick goals was all that came in a more balanced second half. Elijah Belgrave pulled a goal back for Police at 4-2 in the 75th when he rocketed the ball from long distance and saw it smack into the net before W Connection's Colombian custodian Alejandro Figueroa could blink. But Jones matched that with his own gem in the 80th, curling his own free-kick in at the Police near post.
Jones almost had a beaver-trick, but he missed his easiest chance of the night, turning the ball wide at the back post after substitute Neil Benjamin picked him out with a pin-point cross. Still, Connection have all to play for in the final round of Pro League matches for 2012-2013.
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE RESULTS:
W Connection 5 (Joevin Jones 37th, 40th & 80th, Hashim Arcia 17th, Andrei Pacheco 20th) Police 2 (Jameel Perry 6th, Elijah Belgrave 75th)
Defence Force 1 (Devorn Jorsling 14th) T&TEC 1 (Glen Sutton 90th)
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE STANDINGS:
Teams P W D L GF GA GD Points
Defence Force 14 10 3 1 40 16 24 33
Caledonia AIA 13 8 2 3 37 19 18 26
W Connection 14 7 4 3 27 15 12 25
North East Stars 12 5 5 2 17 11 6 20
Central FC 12 4 3 5 15 21 -6 15
Police 13 2 4 7 14 24 -10 10
St Ann's Rangers 12 2 3 7 14 28 -14 9
T&TEC 14 1 2 11 10 40 -30 5