Goal posts and ‘keepers star as Central and Connection play to Couva Clásico stalemate

W Connection forward Akeem Garcia, right, pictured in this file photo with Central FC fullback Kaydion Gabriel earlier this season.

Friday 6 March 2015

Unlikely standouts – goal posts – stole the show in Friday's Couva Clásico between Digicel Pro League leaders Central FC and second placed DIRECTV W Connection which ended goalless at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

The result didn’t put much of a dent on the front runners – Central (12-3-3, 39 points) and Connection (10-4-3, 34 points) – after third placed North East Stars (9-3-6, 30 points) and fourth placed Point Fortin Civic (8-3-7, 27 points) played to a 1-1 draw in the opening contest of the Round Three Match Day Two double-header at the Couva venue.

But it certainly didn’t increase either Central or Connection’s chances at lifting this season’s DPL crown, although it was clear to both sides that while very important, the outcome of the Couva Clásico wasn’t decisive.

“It's not over,” Central FC head coach Zoran Vranes said following the match. “We have six more games. We know everyone is capable of making mistakes but we have two [lost] points that we need to make up for. And if we do what we need to do we should be ok. But it's still far from over.”  

Goals have been rare in three previous meetings in all competitions (1-1-1) between the Couva rivals this season, producing just four goals, but no one would have predicted a 0-0 tie at such a critical stage of the DPL title chase.

Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams produced a one-handed save in the 20th minute to outclass an excellent Hashim Arcia strike following a right side move by Jerrel Britto to find his teammate above the box.

Four minutes later on the other end W Connection goalkeeper Julani Archibald made a fingertip save in the 24th minute to put over bar an effort from distance by Central team captain and midfielder Leston Paul as both sides continue to throw everything at each other for that valuable item, which never came.

Connection, without the services of injured midfielders Gerard Williams (calf) and Neil Benjamin Jr. (hamstring), had to prematurely replace injured Colombian midfielder Stiven Lopez Concha with Devaughn Elliot just 28 minutes into the match but were fortunate to see a Willis Plaza strike crash off the base of the upright in the same minute.

Archibald then provided a shutout seconds from the half time blow of referee Rodphin Harris' whistle, denying Plaza at point blank. The Central forward failed to direct a perfectly placed Kaydion Gabriel low right-side cross beyond the Connection ‘keeper.

The hunt for a goal continued in the second half with Central midfielder Ataulla Guerra sending a low drive inches wide of the upright in the 61st minute and three minutes later he too was denied by the frame from just inside the box.

Jerrel Britto, who was only a few inches wide of the far Central upright six minutes into the contest, was also denied by the frame in the 72nd minute. The Connection forward had latched onto a long ball inside the Central box, raced ahead of his challenger, and from a tight angle on the left, unleashed a strike which rebounded off the base.

Central in search for a late goal only managed tame low efforts by Keon Goodridge and Guerra in the 84th and 87th minutes respectively, which Archibald easily took care of.

Then in the 89th minute, W Connection’s Arcia with the final attempt of the match stood stunned as he too was kept out by the frame. The lanky attacker had a crack from the top of the box that cannoned off the upright.

“In terms of play we are satisfied with result,” Vranes said. “We were maybe better one part of game with chances we really should have scored but things changed near the end and we were very lucky that they didn't score. So I think the result fair one.”

Meanwhile Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier believes his “Savonetta Boys” were unlucky while given the contest high ratings.

“I think it was a good footballing game,” said the Connection coach. “I think we were better tactically in the first half but Central improved in the second half, from a tactical standpoint, and we had to make some adjustments to bring back the balance of the game.

“I think we were unlucky, hitting the post three times, while Central had one clear cut opportunity which our goalkeeper made a big save in the first half. But I think we saw that these are definitely two of the top teams in the league. The quality of football was good. The players were very tactical in their approach to the game and I was quite pleased with the effort of my players.”

With his ambition still set on hurdling Central – last season’s runners-up – to successfully retain the DPL championship, Fevrier added, “We can't worry over things we don't have control over. We can only focus on our performances [from here on].”

Central FC and W Connection will return to DPL action on Tuesday 10 March in Round Three Match Day Three at the Marvin Lee Stadium against eight placed Caledonia AIA (5-4-8, 19 points) and North East Stars from 6 pm and 8 pm respectively.

Also on Friday sixth placed Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh (7-5-6, 26 points) needed a second half Shaquille Bertrand winner in the 72nd minute to defeat cellar placed St. Ann’s Rangers (0-1-17, 1 point) 2-1 in the first match of a double header at the Marvin Lee Stadium.

Kerry Baptiste had the “San Juan Kings” in front in the 42nd minute but Rangers equalised through Jameel Antoine on the hour mark before Bertrand snatched the winner.

In the second match at the Macoya venue, Makesi Lewis’ 51st minute item separatedPolice (6-5-7, 23 points) from fifth placed Defence Force (8-28, 26 points) for a 1-0 win to hurdle Caledonia for seventh place on the table.

And in the early match at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Marcus Joseph had Civic in front 1-0 on the 55th minute, beating goalkeeper Cleon John with a powerful strike of the left boot at the near post for his 12th DPL goal to lead the scorers list.

But two minutes from the end of regulation time Glenton Wolfe knotted the score 1-1 with a brilliant glancing header that was too good for goalkeeper Akini Adams.

Kennedy Hinkson provided the right side free kick – after a careless foul by Civic – and Wolfe capitalised to split the spoils.

Civic will return to DPL action on Wednesday 11 March against Jabloteh from 8 pm at the Marvin Lee Stadium, following a 6 pm contest between Rangers and Police.

Digicel Pro League 2014-2015
Round Three Match Day Two results
Friday 6 March 2015
Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Kerry Baptiste 42', Shaquille Bertrand 72') vs St. Ann’s Rangers 1 (Jameel Antoine 60')
Defence Force 0 vs Police FC 1 (Makesi Lewis 51’)

Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
Point Fortin
Point Fortin Civic 1 (Marcus Joseph 55') vs North East Stars 1 (Glenton Wolfe 88')
Central FC 0 vs W Connection 0

Upcoming matches
Round Three Match Day Three
Tuesday 10 March 2015
Marvin Lee Stadium
Central FC vs Caledonia AIA—6 pm
W Connection vs North East Stars—8 pm

Wednesday 11 March 2015
Marvin Lee Stadium
St. Ann’s Rangers vs Police FC—6 pm
San Juan Jabloteh vs Point Fortin Civic—8 pm

Defence Force (bye)

Friday’s teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium
Point Fortin Civic: 52.Akini Adams (GK), 5.Andre Ettienne (C), 6.Akeem Redhead, 8.Nickcolson Thomas, 11.Andre Toussaint, 10.Marcus Joseph, 20.Jamille Boatswain, 19.Andrei Pacheco, 2.Garyl Doldron, 12.Glenn Sutton, 15.Rondell Paul (3.Steven Joseph 85th minute)

Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 7.Kelvin Modeste, 13.Tevin Balfor, 23.Kevin Rouse, 27.Bevon Bass

Coach: Leroy DeLeon

North East Stars: 4.Keithy Simpson, 12.Jayson Joseph (42.Taryk Sampson 81st minute), 15.Glenton Wolfe, 22.Cleon John (GK), 25.Keryn Navarro, 38.Jesus Perez, 41.Neveal Hackshaw (50.Xae-Pierre De Fou 74th minute), 6.Jeromie Williams (44.Kion Joseph 74th minute), 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 5.Aquil Selby, 14.Dwane James

Unused substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 3.Kareem Richardson, 36.Anthony Diaz, 18.Kaashif Thomas

Assistant Coach: Travis Mulraine

Central FC: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 11.Darren Mitchell (7.Jason Marcano 77th minute), 3.Keon Goodridge, 12.Jamal Jack, 6.Leston Paul (24.Kevon Villaroel 90th minute), 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 33.Willis Plaza (99.Dwight Quintero 87th minute), 2.Elton John, 45.Ataulla Guerra, 10.Marvin Oliver, 17.Marcelle Francois

Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 26.Michael Yaw Darko, 14.Jean-Luc Rochford, 29.Upston Edwards

Coach: Zoran Vranes

W Connection: 5.Mekeil Williams (C), 12.Jerrel Britto, 48.Stiven Lopez Concha (13.Devaughn Elliot 28th minute), 29.Akeem Garcia (2.Kurt Frederick 73rd minute), 14.Hashim Arcia, 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 39.Alvin Jones, 26.Maurice Ford, 27.Shannon Gomez, 36.Triston Hodge, 8.Yhon Stiven Reyes Lopez (25.Christian Viveros 64th minute)

Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 10.Yefer Steven Lozano, 20.Christian Rodriguez, 30.Aaquil Campbell

Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier