IT ended as a thriller in its own right. Coach Anthony Street had accomplished one of the goals he spoke of when taking charge of the bottom-placed St Ann’s Rangers, with just about six matches in the 2013-2014 Digicel Pro League season left to go. That being to get them off three points.
Street accomplished his first goal when Rangers drew 2-2 with San Juan Jabloteh in the Digicel Pro League on Tuesday night at the Marvin Lee Stadium. And in so doing snapped a losing streak of 15 league matches. Elsewhere, the top Pro League contenders all won, except for North East Stars, who fell 1-0 to Point Fortin Civic via Marcus Joseph’s 54th minute goal. Leaders W Connection whipped Police 6-1 with Surinamese teenager Demetrie Apai netting a hat-trick and Joevin Jones netting two penalties, while a Willis Plaza hat-trick led Central FC to a 5-1 win over Caledonia AIA.
A bottom of the table clash is rarely a talking point, except that Rangers were two goals up and desperately holding on, until substitute Neil Mitchell scored twice within a four-minute span, to dramatically grab a point for Jabloteh two minutes into added-on time.
Tuesday night’s encounter left Marvin Lee Stadium buzzing. It must have been a proud moment at one stage from ever-present Rangers owner Richard Fakoory, who throughout the season have consistently preached that his “youths” will make a good team in the future.
The St Ann’s-based team began the match with a young squad; five under-21 footballers, three under the age of 18, with just goalkeeper Akel Clarke, Keron Alexander and captain Kennedy Isle as the senior players. And they played the better football, controlling the ball with a series of short passes. But it was only during a three-minute period early in the second half when they were finally rewarded. A series of short passes into the penalty area ended with Keron Cornwall banging the ball high into the net to give Rangers a 1-0 lead in the 62nd, and just three minutes later Kadeem Corbin tapped the ball in from the centre of the penalty area after a square pass from Cornwall. They could have gotten a third as well.
Rangers had not enjoyed a two-goal lead since last September when ironically they held a 3-1 half-time lead over Jabloteh before losing their second match of the season by a 6-5 margin. Unfortunately, Rangers don’t defend consistently, and season-long frailties were apparent, when both Jabloteh’s Kerry Daniel and Mitchell got good chances at goal in quick succession with 10 minute to go. The first, Daniel’s low shot was saved by keeper Akel Clarke’s legs, while Mitchell put a free-header wide.
It was obvious Streete wanted the win badly and was shouting instruction to his troops. One might have thought Central FC’s Englishman Terry Fenwick was on the side-line. “Double up, double up”, Street shouted. “Kennedy come on, Kennedy come on. Somebody else do the first post.”
With under five minutes to go, it became even more desperate for Rangers, as Jabloteh looked for a life-line.
“Organise the line,” said Street, who was trying to get his young players to respiond. “Kennedy yuh ball watching.”
Then, with two minutes to go Mitchell scored to bring Jabloteh closer at 2-1.
Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey had brought on former Joe Public midfielder Micah Lewis, ex-North East Stars man Marcus Gomes, and Mitchell in the second half and they were doing all the attacking. Streete also made his changes, to no avail. Finally, the ball was played across the box where Mitchell swept it in from close up. Rangers were broken. But, the final whistle sounded just seconds later.
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE RESULTS:
St Ann’s Rangers 2 (Kevon Cornwall 63, Kadeem Corbin 66) San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Neil Mitchell 88 & 92)
Point Fortin Civic FC 1 (Marcus Joseph 54) North East Stars 0
W Connection 6 (Joevin Jones 15 & 23 -- penalties, Demetri Apai 53, 88 & 93, Hashim Arcia 73) Police FC 1 (Jameel Perry 29)
Central FC 5 (Willis Plaza 17, 29 & 58, Ataulla Guerra (45’), Samuel Delice (75’) Caledonia AIA 1 (Julian Wade 23)
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE STANDINGS:
Teams P W D L GF GA GD Points
Direct TV W Connection 21 13 6 2 43 15 28 45
Central FC 20 10 8 2 41 18 23 38
Point Fortin Civic FC 22 11 3 8 32 24 8 36
North East Stars 21 9 6 6 22 16 6 33
Defence Force 17 10 2 5 34 23 11 32
Police FC 20 8 3 9 28 33 -5 27
Caledonia AIA 19 6 6 7 27 27 0 24
San Juan Jabloteh 20 3 3 14 21 47 -26 12
St. Ann’s Rangers 20 1 1 18 15 60 -45 4