Former champions W Connection and North East Stars are on opposite sides of the Lucozade Goal Shield knockout football tournament draw and could still meet later on after booking safe passage to the semi-final round on Saturday night at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
Defending champions Connection beat San Juan Jabloteh 3-1 and will now meet Point Fortin Civic in the first of Friday’s semis at Ato Boldon Stadium. Stars will also face Central FC in the second semi-final after a Keron Cummings first half double gave them a 2-1 win over Police.
Cummings drove in a powerful left-footed shot from outside the penalty area in just the second minute, and also found the far corner with a low shot in the 41 st minute. Police’s consolation came via a header from lanky striker Jameel Perry in the 75th minute.
With just four match days left in the 2013-2014 Pro League competition, leaders W Connection rotated their squad and gave some reserves a run in the Lucozade knockout, but nevertheless maintained a high standard. Connection’s foreign legion were prominent against Jabloteh.
It was just eight minutes into the match when Connection took a 1-0 lead through midfielder Tremain Shayn Paul, a St Lucian, who struck from outside the penalty area.
On the quarter-hour, former T&T Under-20 World Cup striker Jamal (Juma) Clarence doubled the score at 2-0. Clarence, who scored for Trinidad and Tobago against Italy in the 2010 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, has had few chances to start at W Connection, since returning from a 2010 stint in Turkey. Clarence’s goal came when he beat Jabloteh’s 18-year-old ‘keeper Shundelle Mayers, from within the penalty area, following a set-up by exciting teenaged Surinamese striker Dimitrie Apai. Another teenager, speedy T&T wide midfielder Neil Benjamin Jr., intercepted an errant ball from the San Juan Jabloteh custodian and fed utility player Hasim Arcia, who made it 3-0 in the 24th minute.
W Connection went close a couples times to increasing the lead, before Jabloteh got a consolation goal with just under a quarter hour to go. Having been picked up by Jabloteh in the January transfer window, USA-born defender Kareem Smith pulled a goal back for his new team.
Formerly of United Petrotrin, Massachusetts-born Smith played for the T&T national senior team five time under Colombian coach Francisco Maturana, by virtue of having a Trinidadian father, and was also a member of the T&T national team that lost 2-1 to Bermuda during the failed 2010 World Cup campaign. Smith knocked in a rebound in the 76th minute, after W Connection goalkeeper Aquelius Sylvester had pushed away Jean-Luc Rochford’s dangerous free-kick.
2014 LUCOZADE GOAL
W Connection 3 (Tremain Shayn Paul 8, Jamal Clarence 15, Hashim Arcia 24) San Juan Jabloteh 1 Kareem Smith (76)
North East Stars 2 (Keron Cummings (2 & 41) Police FC 1 (Jamaal Perry 75)
Central FC 4(Willis Plaza 14- penalty & , 43, Atuallah Guerra 81 Marvin Oliver 90 -penalty) Caledonia AIA 0
Defence Force 1 (Glynn Franklin 80) Point Fortin Civic 1 (Jamaal Perry 75Akeen Redhead 41).
Point Fortin Civic won 4-3 on spot kicks.
San Juan Jabloteh 2(Jean-Luc Rochford 5, Micah Lewis 61) St Ann’s Rangers 0