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Marcus ‘Lobo’ Joseph enjoyed a brilliant night at the office netting an early brace as hosts W Connection held off top Jamaican side Arnett Gardens to a hard-fought 2-1 win in their Group A clash of the 2018 Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship on Friday at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

The Trinidad and Tobago international struck two fine strikes in a space of thirteen minutes including the fastest goal of the tournament to date at one minute 41 seconds, but missed out on completing the hat-trick late after former San Juan Jabloteh playmaker Fabien Reid had pulled a goal back from the penalty spot for the Jamaicans on the hour mark.

The win, coupled with Dominican Republic’s Atletico Pantoja’s (4 points) comfortable 3-0 win over Haiti’s Real Hope Football Academy (3 points) to take the group lead in the earlier game at the Couva venue, lifted Connection (3 points) two spots off the bottom into second by goal-difference after a disappointing 1-0 opening loss to the Haitians last Wednesday.

Connection, the multiple-time former Caribbean champions, will next face Atletico Pantoja in the group’s final game from 8pm on Sunday at the same venue. Real Hope and bottom of the table Arnett Gardens (1 point) will complete their group play from 5pm on the same day.

The top two teams will advance to the Caribbean final round in May which will determine Concacaf Champions League and Concacaf League berths.

Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier, in an effort to bounce back after their opening loss in which Jeudy Johnson had fired the Haitians in front after exactly two minutes, started without Wednesday’s attacking trio of Kadeem Corbin, Akeem Garcia and Kennedy Hinkson.

Fevrier instead opted to push Joseph higher into the attack alongside Suriname international Dimitri Apai, making his first appearance of the tournament, and gave former Shiva Boys College attacker Quinn Rodney his professional debut on the opposite flank, while hard-man Briel Thomas started in the middle. And it all paid off.

Joseph, leading the spear at the tip, opened the scoring with less than two minutes played when he raced between two defenders to steer a low left side Kurt Frederick cross past Arnett Gardens goalie Damion Hyatt.

Joseph then cushioned the hosts 2-0 on thirteen minutes with a left-footed blast from outside the left of the box after making light work of winger Kemal Malcolm.

Moments later Joseph forced Hyatt into a low save before executing a wonderful overhead attempt which flew just wide after meeting another Frederick cross.

Joseph’s best chance to complete the hat-trick arrived twelve minutes from time but failed to put his effort on target at the end of a quick response by Connection after Arnett Gardens’ substitute Lennox Russell saw his effort rebound off the upright on the other end.

The Jamaicans, without captain and ex-Connection player Oneil Thompson through suspension, never looked flattened although conceding twice early on.

Arnett Gardens had forced Connection custodian Julani Archibald into three first half saves including acrobatically putting behind a Marvin Morgan shot on the half hour mark and a point blank save to deny Malcom on the stroke of the half.

Arnett Gardens’ resolve resulted in Guyana referee Gladwyn Johnson ruling a handball against the hosts and although Archibald did get glove to the ball, the Connection shot-stopper was unable to stop it from ending at the back of his net.

Growing in confidence by the minute, the Jamaicans were on the hunt for another when Reid’s acrobatic attempt flew just high moments later.

Connection, though, could have put the match out of reach a minute into the second half when Apai outpaced every challenge for fifty yards after a neat flick in his own half to escape Kenniel Hyde but later had his shot put behind by Hyatt.

Apai had also spilled wide two minutes from the break after controlling a deep diagonal feed out of the back by Frederick who continues to prove himself as one of the Caribbean’s best full-backs.

Atletico Pantoja had earlier set the tempo for an entertaining night with a double from forward Armando Maita, netting on either side of the break, following a go-head goal from Luis Espinal against Real Hope FA.

Espinal completed a wonderful team move in the 35th minute, firing past Real Hope goalkeeper Odelus Luis Valendi from inside the box after controlling a left side feed from Darly Batista who was picked out by a brilliant through ball from Jean Carlos López.

Five minutes later López was also involved in Pantoja’s second goal and first from Maita, this time grabbing the assist after his corner from the right was headed powerfully into the back of the Haitians net.

Maita later completed his double from close up in the 59th minute by stabbing the ball into the back of Real Hope’s net after goalkeeper Valendi parried at his feet.

CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championship 2018
Group A (Trinidad) results
Wednesday 31 January 2018

Club Atletico Pantoja 0 vs Arnett Gardens 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium;

W Connection 0 vs Real Hope Football Academy 1 (Jeudy Johnson 2’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Friday, February 2, 2018        
Real Hope FA 0 vs Atletico Pantoja 3 (Luis Espinal 35’, Armando Maita 40’, 59’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

W Connection 2 (Marcus Joseph 2’, 13) vs Arnett Gardens 1 (Fabien Reid 61’), at Ato Boldon Stadium. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018
Arnett Gardens FC (JAM) v Real Hope FA (HAI), 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad;

W Connection FC (T&T) v Club Atletico Pantoja (DOM), 8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad.

Teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Friday
Game 1

Real Hope FA: 1.Odelus Louis Valendi (GK); 4.Edmund Patrick, 5.Jean Eyma (Capt.), 6.Dunel Blaise, 7.Nerlin St. Vil, 9.Ronaldo Damus, 10.Jeudy Johnson, 11.Schneider Desamours, 14.Wendy St. Felix, 15.Denilson Pierre, 22.Jean Jackinto.

Unused substitutes: 3.Bissainthe Bicou, 12.Exavier Naldory Joseph Rams, 16.Vertus Wolf, 20.Cineus Renel, 23.Philippe Junior Toussaint, 24.Fardyson Pierre, 35.Max Djivenel Fleuricien (GK).

Coach: Sonche Pierre

Club Atletico Pantoja: 23.Odalis Baez (GK); 3.Pedro Muñoz (16.Robert Rosado 72nd minute), 4.Yefferson Moreira, 7.Luis Espinal, 8.Jesus Quintero (28.Ronaldo Vasquez 64th minute, 9.Darly Batista (26.Carlos Rossell 89th minute), 13.Jean Walnes Innocent, 14.Jean Carlos López, 17.Armando Maita, 21.Nicolas Rebollo (Capt.), 32.Eduardo Centeno.

Unused substitutes: 1.Wisaldy Rivera (GK); 15.Danny Guillen, 18.Brian Calabrese, 20.Jonathan Faña 

Coach: Lenin Jose Bastidas Bello

Officials
Referee: Reon Radix (GRE)
Assistant Referee 1: Michael Barwegen (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Iroots Appleton (ATG)
Fourth Official: Ricangel De Leca (ARU)
Referee Assessor: Jaggernath Goolcharan (TRI)
Match Commissioner: Glenn Etienne (DMA)

Game 2
W Connection:
18.Julani Archibald (GK); 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams, 5.Triston Hodge, 6.Kevon Goddard (8.Jameel Antoine 68th minute), 10.Dimitri Apai, 14.Quinn Rodney (23.Kennedy Hinkson 46th minute), 15.Jesus Perez, 16.Alvin Jones (Capt.), 19.Briel Thomas, 99.Marcus Joseph.

Unused substitutes: 33.Jason Belfon (GK); 7.Akeem Garcia, 9.Kadeem Corbin, 17.Jevaughn Humphrey, 26.Isaiah Garcia.

Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier 

Arnett Gardens: 40.Damion Hyatt (GK); 5.Renae Lloyd, 8.Vishinul Harris, 9.Marvin Morgan, 11.Kemal Malcolm (3.Lennox Russell 73rd minute), 12.Jabeur Johnson (7.Jason Moore 66th minute), 13.Fabien Reid, 15.Ranike Anderson, 16.Jamar Martin (33.Leon Strickland 66th minute), 17.Kenniel Hyde, 19.Tamar Edwards.

Unused substitutes: 21.Al Nesbeth, 26.Ricardo Oldham, 27.Steve Clarke, 55.Shamarley Clayton (GK).

Coach: Jerome Waite

Officials
Referee: Gladwyn Johnson (GUY)
Assistant Referee 1: Kevin Stephens (GUY)
Assistant Referee 2: Zachari Zeegelaar (SUR)
Fourth Official: Oscar Marcias (MEX)
Referee Assessor: Omario Contreras (BLZ)
Match Commissioner: Egbert Lacle (ARU)


Originally published on ttproleague.com