Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones marked his return to competitive play with a goal on debut in the Digicel Pro League on Friday night.
The former Cardiff City forward came off the bench to score a late equaliser before winning a free kick that led to the go-head goal scored by Darren Mitchell as 10-man Central FC escaped Police FC with a 2-1 comeback at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
The win kept the two-time defending league champions ahead of the pack on 16 points, with Couva rivals W Connection moving up a spot into second on 13 points following a comprehensive 4-0 win over St. Ann’s Rangers in the second game of the Round One Match Day Six double-header.
Kurt Frederick scored twice in the first half before Jamal Charles and Andre Toussaint completed the comfortable Connection win.
Jones, who was sidelined for almost a month since being injured in a Caribbean Cup qualifying game against Martinique on Oct. 12, had earlier on Friday been named by T&T head coach Stephen Hart in a 23-man Soca Warriors’ squad for upcoming World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras.
The 32-year-old former England Premier League frontman, on loan at Central from Atlanta United, erased any doubts over his prowess ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers by heading Central level four minutes from time against Police, who had broken the deadlock seconds after Jones had entered play in the second half.
Police midfielder Kenaz Williams, netting for the first time since Feb. 2015, gave the Lawmen the 1-0 lead on 58 minutes when his shot through a dangerous Andre Ettienne challenge clipped the defender’s leg to sail the ball over T&T and Central goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and into the back of the net.
It doubled the trouble for Central coach Dale Saunders, whose side were reduced to 10 men five minutes before the break after Kaydion Gabriel, who was booked just before the half hour mark for a high boot challenge, saw a second yellow then the automatic red from referee Keilon Bacchus for a tackle on Police left-back Nequan Caruth just over the halfway line.
A goal and a player advantage, Police, who were close to opening the scoring twice in the early moments, seemed on their way to snapping a four-game winless streak despite being without a handful of injured regulars including team captain Todd Ryan and forwards Kareem Freitas and Keion Wilson, and following back-to-back abysmal league performances.
But with four minutes left, it all went sour for coach Richard Hood’s Lawmen who conceded their third straight defeat.
Jones made it 1-1 when he towered in the Police area to head past his national teammate, goalkeeper Adrian Foncette, off a perfectly placed Jason Marcano right side cross following an enterprising move by the Couva Sharks in the 86th minute. The former Sunderland and Stoke City forward celebrated his third goal in all competitions for Central, after scoring on debut for the Couva Sharks in the Concacaf Champions League last August, and on home debut in the Digicel Charity Shield last September.
Then on the stroke of 90 minutes team captain Darren Mitchell snatched the 2-1 Central winner with his fifth league goal of the season from six games. Jones was brought down above the area. Marcus Joseph unleashed a low laser that clipped the wall, causing further problems for Foncette who was unable the stop the effort and Mitchell steered in the rebound from close it.
It was the end that Saunders sought, keeping his side unbeaten in the league after risking it all with an all-out attacking approach that including shifting central defender Ettienne in offence and replacing an injured wingback Kevon Villaroel with forward Mikaeel Jem Gordon, adding to the second half introductions of Nathaniel Garcia and Jones.
In the second game on the night, St. Ann’s Rangers, who entered play on back-to-back wins and tied on 10 points with W Connection, were knocked out of the clouds by the Savonetta Boys, who picked up their fourth straight league win.
Connection assistant coach Earl Jean may have sharpened the team’s tactical strategies ahead of the encounter in absence of fellow countryman and head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier who returned to his St. Lucia homeland for the funeral of his father, Patrick Newton Fevrier.
But two stunning strikes by St. Lucia international Frederick before the break was surely a surprise, more so to Rangers.
Frederick unleashed a rocket from 35 yards in the 35th minute for a 1-0 Connection lead after beating a fully stretched goalkeeper Cleon John, who had earlier denied Dimitrie Apai, Hughtun Hector and Andre Toussaint.
Then from a similar distance after Toussaint rolled a free kick into his path in stoppage-time of the first half, Frederick completed his double to give his side a 2-0 cushion. All fault of two Rangers’ players who allowed the left full-back time and space to position himself behind the ball before letting off another left footer that found the bottom corner of John’s net.
Connection completed the 4-0 rout with two more goals within a four-minute period in the second period, converted by substitute Jamal Charles in the 75th minute and Toussaint in the 78th minute, following crosses by Hector and substitute Alvin Jones, respectively, that Rangers failed cut off.
Rangers (10 points) remain fourth, two points behind third positioned San Juan Jabloteh (12 points), who plays cellar-positioned Point Fortin Civic on Sunday at the Ato Boldon Stadium from 4pm, preceding a 6pm kick-off between Club Sando and Ma Pau Stars at the Couva venue.
Also on Sunday, Morvant Caledonia United welcomes Defence Force to the Morvant Recreation Ground from 3:45pm before action switches into the 2016 First Citizens Cup beginning on Tuesday.
Digicel Pro League 2016
Round One Match Day Six
(Friday, November 04, 2016)
Central FC 2 (Kenwyne Jones 88’, Darren Mitchell 90’) vs Police FC 1 (Kenaz Williams 53’), at the Ato Boldon Stadium;
W Connection 4 (Kurt Frederick 35’, 45’+1, Jamal Charles 75’, Andre Toussaint 78’) vs St. Ann’s Rangers 0, at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Digicel Pro League
Round One Match Day Six
(Sunday, November 06, 2016)
Morvant Recreation Ground
Morvant Caledonia United vs Defence Force—3:45pm
Ato Boldon Stadium
San Juan Jabloteh vs Point Fortin Civic—4pm
Club Sando vs Ma Pau Stars—6pm
First Citizens Cup 2016
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Ato Boldon Stadium
Club Sando vs Defence Force—6pm
San Juan Jabloteh vs Ma Pau Stars—8pm
Quarter Final Round
Police FC vs Point Fortin Civic (A)
Central FC vs Morvant Caledonia United (B)
St. Ann’s Rangers vs Winners (Club Sando vs Defence Force) (C)
W Connection vs Winners (San Juan Jabloteh vs Ma Pau Stars) (D)
Semi Final Round
A vs D
B vs C
Teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Friday
Central FC: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 3.Keion Goodridge, 4.Andre Ettienne, 6.Leston Paul (Yellow Card), 7.Jason Marcano, 8.Sean De Silva (19.Nathan Garcia 53rd minute), 10.Keron Cummings (9.Kenwyne Jones 53rd minute), 11.Darren Mitchell (Capt.), 15.Kaydion Gabriel (Yellow+Yellow=Red Card), 24.Kevon Villaroel (26.Mickaeel Jem Gordon 74th minute), 99.Marcus Joseph.
Unused substitutes: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 14.Nicholas Dillon, 16.Kadeem Corbin, 30.Akel Clarke (GK).
Coach: Dale Saunders
Police FC: 18.Adrian Foncette (GK) (Capt.), 6.Jibri Mc David (Yellow Card), 14.Kaaron Foster (Yellow Card) (8.Kurdell Brathwaite 46th minute) (Yellow Card), 15.Jameel Perry, 17.Dexter Alleyne, 19.Christon Thomas, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 23.Micah Lewis (29.Kadeem Hutchinson 87th minute), 25.Kenaz Williams, 29.Kadeem Hutchinson, 38.Nequan Caruth, 39.Joshua Leach (12.Kadeem Riley 80th minute).
Unused substitutes: 2.Akiel Thomas, 13.Dillon Kirton, 22.Theon Browne (GK).
Coach: Richard Hood
Referee: Keilon Bacchus
Assistant Referee 1: Glen Kevin Charles
Assistant Referee 2: Kevin Lewis
Fourth Official: Kevin Smart
W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams (Capt.), 10.Dimitrie Apai (9.Shackiel Henry 81st minute), 13.Hughtun Hector, 14.Andre Toussaint, 21.Ronell Paul (16.Alvin Jones 63rd minute), 23.Kevon Goddard, 25.Daneil Cyrus, 27.Jelani Peters, 37.Daniel Diaz (20.Jamal Charles 46th minute).
Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 4.Maurice Ford, 43.Malik St. Prix, 46.Anfernee Frederick.
Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier
St. Ann’s Rangers: 1.Cleon John (GK), 5.Devon Drayton, 6.Dylon King, 7.Sedale Mc Lean (19.Tafari Williams 81st minute), 8.Jameel Antoine, 9.Jomoul Francois (11.Kazim Donald 68th minute), 10.Devon Modeste, 20.Kareem Baptiste, 21.Josh Toussaint (33.Osaze Springer 59th minute), 28.Shakiyl Phillip (Capt.), 30.Lester Durham.
Unused substitutes: 16.Richard Williams, 22.Christopher Biggette (GK), 32.Marvin Lee, 44.Dyllon Lara.
Coach: Anthony Streete
Referee: Rodphin Harris
Assistant Referee 1:
Assistant Referee 2: Oladele Thomas
Fourth Official: C.K. O’Brien