ANTHONY WOLFE is supposed to be in India, not on the losing side at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, where Police Football Club continued a recent revival with victory over North East Stars in the Digicel Pro League on Friday night.
Four victories in the last five matches moved Police up to second spot, and champions Defence Force also moved to third, after both protective services forces teams posted victories in Port of Spain. Stars dropped two spots to fourth. Champions Defence Force beat San Juan Jabloteh 2-0, with Jerwyn Baltazar banging the ball home from close up in the 44th minute for a 1-0 lead after Devorn Jorsling’s free-kick. And left-back Ross Russell Jr put a back-post finish following Kerry Joseph’s cross to complete the win with a late goal.
Police also edged Stars 1-0, for a fourth win of the 2013-2014 season, but could have had a few more, with a better conversion rate on the good chances they created. Coached by T&T women’s youth coach Richard Hood and Chris Bailey, Police have won half their eight matches played. So far, they have beaten Stars (1-0), St Ann’s Rangers (2-0), Central FC (4-1) and San Juan Jabloteh (4-2). For the entire 2012-2013 season, Police won just three of 21 matches played, and five of 21 the season before.
Modern footballers might not know that Police were once a “big team” locally. Three-times national champions (1979, 1991 and 1994) , Police were also 1991 CONCACAF club runners-up to Puebla of Mexico. The present-day lawmen have some way to go to match the former champions, but have improved this year, and are definitely difficult to break down. Strong in defence and midfield, Police lack only a decisive striker up top.
In captain and midfielder Todd Ryan, the Policemen have a player of quality, who could make most Pro League squads. Defender Karlon Murray brings his experience, as does 37-year-old veteran midfielder Trent Noel, who was among the best playmakers during his prime, while at San Juan Jabloteh, Joe Public and the Trinidad and Tobago national team. They also have players of potential like midfielders Joel Lewis, who works on the wide right, and Kenaz Williams. Elijah Belgrave and Christon Thomas are experienced players as well.
Friday, Police bossed the first half, in which captain Ryan headed them into a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute, and defender Dexter Alleyne missed giving them a second goal on the stroke of halftime when clearing the crossbar from centre of the penalty area. Ryan’s header onto Akiba Peters’ corner-kick, was more well-placed than powerful, but negated Kashif Thomas’ best effort to keep the ball out at the goalmouth. On the stroke of halftime, Alleyne’s shot over the unprotected net with the goal open and Stars goalkeeper Stefan Berkely poorly positioned. Police also had a close penalty appeal turned down in the first half, and two more good chances missed by striker Elijah Belgrave in the second. Stocky-built Police attacker Belgrave put over a close-up header in the 55th minute, and also hit straight at the Stars’ second-string goalkeeper when on a free run at goal, and defender Glenton Wolfe desperately trying to catch up.
Stars’ best chances were a low shot from the midfielder Elijah Manners which only just missed the far post, and a close-up first time finish from Wolfe, which was disallowed for offside. Wolfe was largely frustrated, even getting a yellow card when disputing the referee’s decisions. Wolfe, 29, recently signed and will be available for Indian club Churchill FC from January next year. He is still available to play for Stars until he gets his employment visa. Anyway, his new club has had some matches postponed and will not be in action until February 11.
FRIDAY’S PRO LEAGUE RESULTS:
Police FC 1 (Todd Ryan (31’) North East Stars 0
Defence Force 2 (Jerwyn Balthazar 44’, Ross Russell Jr. 86’) San Juan Jabloteh 0
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE STANDINGS
Teams P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Direct TV W Connection 6 6 0 0 16 2 14 18
Police FC 8 4 1 3 14 11 3 13 Defence Force 7 4 0 3 14 13 1 12 North East Stars 7 3 1 3 8 6 2 10
Point Fortin Civic FC 7 3 0 4 8 12 -4 9
Caledonia AIA 6 2 2 2 13 9 4 8
Central FC 6 2 2 2 8 7 1 8
San Juan Jabloteh 7 2 0 5 14 20 -6 -6
St. Ann’s Rangers 6 1 0 5 9 24 -15 3