It was a match Pro League leaders DirecTV W Connection could have won, but were probably fortunate not to lose.
W Connection ended the first of three rounds of the Digicel Pro League unbeaten, despite dropping points for a second successive match, when held to a 1-1 draw by defending champions Defence Force at Hasely Crawford Stadium (HCS) on Friday night. W Connection (20 points) have six victories and two draws to lead the nine-team standings, only dropping points against 2012-2013 runners-up Caledonia AIA (0-0) and champions Defence Force (1-1). Police (13 points) are second and ahead of Defence Force (13 points) on goal-difference, while Caledonia (12 points) are fourth.
Earlier on Friday night, Jamaal Gay scored on either side of half-time, as Caledonia AIA edged a competitive match 2-1 over Point Fortin Civic, and are easing up the Pro League table after a poor start to the season. Early competition leaders Civic continued a downward spiral with a sixth defeat, after winning their opening three matches of the season. Gay put in Akim Armstrong’s square pass from six yards in the seventh minute for a 1-0 AIA lead, and also forced in Noel Williams’ corner-kick at the back post for the winning goal in the 64th minute. However, it took referee Keion Bacchus to determne that the dispute winner had crossed the goal-line.
Thirty-two year-old Kendall Davis momentarily had Point level at 1-1 in the 57th after the veteran striker used his head to precisely re-direct Andrei Pacheco’s miscued shot. Davis, the former St Benedict’s, Joe Public, W Connection and T&T National Under-23 striker, only just missed getting a second equaliser when Caledonia’s Grenadian keeper Shemel Louison saved brilliantly with his feet in the 70th minute.
The feature match lived up to expectations, but was very tactical. Hard-fought and tense like a cup final, the match really came alive in the second half following a goalless first session, which saw W Connection’s St Kitts-Nevis ‘keeper Jelani Archibald doing well to touch away Jerwyn Balthazar’s improvised flick to the far post.
W Connection welcomed back striker Shahdon Winchester from a stint in Finland, as a 65th minute substitute for the goal-scorer Jerrell Britto, who gave W Connection a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the second half.
Teenager Neil Benjamin Jr delivered a low cross after outracing aging right-back Corey Rivers, and found Britto, who netted a close-up, low shot from centre of the penalty area. W Connection utility player Hashim Arcia provided Britto with an exact replica soon after, but Britto hesitated, took an extra touch and was blocked. Arcia, also struck the woodwork in the 59th with a low shot.
Kevon Carter’s pace troubled W Connection all night, before he touched in Rivers’ cross with his thigh to pull the Army level at 1-1 in the 73rd. It was then the fireworks began, as both teams abandoned earlier caution and searched for the winning goal. Army twice struck the crossbar; central defender Rondell Elcock heading onto it from a corner-kick, and slightly overweight striker Devorn Jorsling powerfully rocking the wood work from the edge of the penalty area. At one point, Defence Force also had four attackers in the penalty area facing just one W Connection defender, but made one sloppy pass too many before the ball was desperately kept out.
TODAY’S PRO LEAGUE MATCH:
5 p.m. — San Juan Jabloteh vs Central FC, Hasely Crawford Stadium
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE RESULTS:
North East Stars 1 ( Trevin Caesar 36th )
St Ann’s Rangers 0
(Friday, Jan 3)
Caledonia AIA 2 (JamAal Gay 7 & 64) Point Fortin Civic FC 1 (Kendell Davis 57)
Defence Force 1 (Kevon Carter 73) W Connection 1 (Jerrel Britto 47)
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE STANDINGS:
Teams P W D L GD Pts
W Connection 8 6 2 0 14 20
Police FC 8 4 1 3 3 13
Defence Force 8 4 1 3 1 13
Caledonia AIA 8 3 3 2 5 12
Central FC 7 3 2 2 2 11
North East Stars 7 3 1 3 2 10
Point Fortin Civic 8 3 0 5 -5 9
San Juan Jabloteh 7 2 0 5 -6 6
St Ann’s Rangers 7 1 0 6 -16 3