Pro League leaders W Connection must have felt similar to the Australian cricketers, when under pressure from Darren Sammy’s bat on Friday.
A few hours after hard-hitting Sammy led West Indies past Australia at the T20 World Cup cricket through two huge sixes in the final over, W Connection suffered a body blow of their own.
The Savonetta Boys must have felt almost as though they were at the end of Sammy’s huge bat, when in the dying seconds Sean Cooper earned Civic a 1-1 draw when his shot found a gap at the near post, beating W Connection’s St Kitts-Nevis custodian Julani Archibald. Having led through Alvin Jones’ deflected shot from as early as the eighth minute, W Connection conceded four minutes into added-on time. Four-time professional league champions Connection had gone into the Digicel Pro League match with a diminishing lead, and desperately trying to hold on as the Pro League 24-match schedule comes to an end.
Meanwhile, newcomers Point Fortin Civic are equally hopeful of a second-place finish, which would qualify them for the Caribbean Club Championship competition next season. There were no losers on Friday night, but how important will those two lost points be to W Connection’s title hopes with just four-match days to go, time will tell.
After leading the competition by double digits two-thirds of the way through the season, Connection have only won twice recently, against the bottom two teams St Ann’s Rangers and San Juan Jabloteh. They have also suffered their two only defeats this season within their last eight matches played. But importantly, W Connection were held to four drawn games against fellow title contenders recently, whereas early in the season, they won all those matches, by close margins.
The diminishing lead over chasing Central FC is now seven points. The Sharks did not play Friday’s advertised first match against Police at Ato Boldon Stadium, due to the Lawmen being call to active duty when news of a large planned protest around the Parliament building emerged.
Except for Cooper’s late equaliser, Point never looked a threat, although they are always capable of one, with the league’s top-scorer Marvin Joseph and Andre Toussaint leading the attack. W Connection’s early goal had its own degree of fortuitousness, when the ball deflected wickedly off a defender and flew past Civic’s T&T international keeper Marvin Phillip, following a shot from distance by the right back Jones.
Phillip did yeoman service and kept Civic in the match, stopping Joevin Jones’ shot from a free-kick, and also saving Jerrel Britto’s low effort with his legs, as W Connection pushed within the first half hour. Phillip also made another good stop, this time from former Under-20 World Cup striker Jamal Clarence, to keep Civic in the match.
Civic held their own in midfield, but hardly looked likely to pull level until Cooper’s late equaliser provided a high point for their supporters.
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE SCHEDULE:
6pm — Caledonia AIA vs Police FC, Ato Boldon Stadium
8pm — Defence Force vs Point Fortin Civic, Ato Boldon Stadium
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE STANDINGS:
Teams P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Direct TV W Connection 20 12 6 2 38 14 24 42
Central FC 19 9 8 2 36 17 19 35
North East Stars 19 9 6 4 22 13 9 33
Point Fortin Civic FC 20 10 3 7 29 21 8 33
Police FC 18 8 3 7 26 26 0 27
Defence Force 15 8 2 5 29 21 8 26
Caledonia AIA 17 5 6 6 24 21 3 21
San Juan Jabloteh 19 3 2 14 19 45 -26 11
St. Ann’s Rangers 19 1 0 18 13 58 -45 3