W Connection, already qualified for the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship Final Round, failed to complete a hattrick of victories in Group Five when it suffering a 2-1 loss against USL club Antigua Barracudas on Thursday night at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
The Digicel Pro League Champions took the lead in the 21st minute through an own goal by Barracudas captain George Dublin, when the former Joe Public player directed a Kemuel Rivers shot across the face of goal past goalkeeper Keita Decastro for a 1-0 score.
However Connection which started an unfamiliar line-up with teenagers Anthony Parris and Neil Benjamin in midfield went on to concede two goals before the break.
Head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier rested a number of players in preparation for the following day’s (Friday 11 May) domestic Digicel Pro Bowl semi-final clash against Caledonia AIA from 6pm at the very same Marabella venue.
Barracudas first pulled the scores level 1-1 in the 38th minute when substitute Matthew Aldred’s first touch on the ball seconds after replacing Kimoi Alexander was a looping effort from the right that landed inside the far netting as defender Rivers’ attempt to clear off his line was in vain.
The Antiguans then got what turned out the winning item in the 42nd minute from former San Juan Jabloteh forward Peter Byers who slotted in past Connection second choice goalie Aquelius Sylvester from a tight angle after latching onto a long ball forward and muscling his way against challenges by two defenders for the 2-1 result.
Sylvester had to make just one previous save in the 17th minute diving low to direct a powerful strike from distance by Orlando Mitchum out for a corner.
The result saw the United Soccer League Professional Division club join W Connection (2-0 winners over Victory SC and 6-0 against Inter Moengoetapoe) in the Club Championship Final Round with 6 points, booting out Haiti’s Victory (3 points) which earlier demolished Moengoetapoe 8-2 in the final group five match day.
Ricardo Charles registered a beaver-trick finding the back of the net in the 1st, 56th, 79th and 90th minutes, while Bony Pierre added a double with goals in the 32nd and 75th minutes, Phillipe Junior Toussaint one in the 3rd minute and Nicodeme Beauge in the 51st minute for Victory.
While Inter’s pair of goals was scored by Ricardo Misiedjan finding the back of the net in the 39th and 45th minutes.
Connection and Barracudas now awaits the winners of Group Four (TT Pro League club Caledonia AIA, Haitian club Baltimore, home side George Town and two-time defending CFU Club Champions Puerto Rico Islanders) which will be contested in the Cayman Islands from May 20-24.
In the second period Connection enjoyed the better opportunities against a very defensive Barracudas structure however failed to find the back of the net.
Three minutes inside the half Jerrel Britto was denied and the rebound clattered overbar by Johan Peltier. Two minutes later, Rivers tested his accuracy from distance and was just high with a powerful left footed strike.
Fevrier then introduced Joevin Jones, Rennie Britto and striker Shahdon Winchester with thirty minutes on the clock.
The trio was soon into action with Jones finding J. Britto on the left and his low cross was missed by lunging efforts of Winchester and R. Britto to the reliet of the Antiguans in the 71st minute.
Barracudas had luck on its side with J. Britto only finding the bottom of the upright in the 81st minute after goalkeeper Decastro spilled a header by R. Britto.
W Connection—Aquelius Sylvester, Kern Cupid (capt.), Christian Viveros, Akeem Benjamin, Kemuel Rivers, Jomal Williams, Andre Quashie, Anthony Parris (Joevin Jones 69th), Jerrel Britto, Johan Peltier (Rennie Britto 70th), Neil Benjamin (Shahdon Winchester 70th)
Head Coach—Stuart Charles Fevrier
CFU Club Championship Group Five Final Day results
Inter Moengoetapoe 2—8 Victory SC
Ricardo Misiedjan 39’,45’ ; Ricardo Charles 1’, 56’, 79’, 90’, Phillipe Junior Toussaint 3’, Bony Pierre 32’, 75’, Nicodeme Beauge 51’
W Connection 1—2 Antigua Barracudas
(George Dublin 21’own goal) ; Matthew Aldred 38’, Peter Byers 42’
Venue: T.E Mc Field Sports Centre, George Town, Cayman Islands
Caledonia vs Baltimore (Haiti)
George Town (Cayman Islands) vs Puerto Rico Islanders
Puerto Rico Islanders vs Caledonia AIA
George Town vs Baltimore
Baltimore vs Puerto Rico Islanders
Caledonia AIA vs George Town