Pro League top goalscorer Kerry Baptiste scored twice for "Eastern Lions" Joe Public, but it was only enough to give them a 2-2 draw with newly-crowned Caribbean champions W Connection in a Digicel Pro League match yesterday on the artificial turf at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.
W Connection led 1-0 at the half through in-form striker Jonathan Frias, but Joe Public were rampant early in the second period and turned the match around to lead 2-1 through a pair of Baptiste goals.
However, with just about six minutes to go, substitute Keryn Navarro scored from close up to give W Connection a point away from home.
The teams were balanced early in the match, but by the half hour, W Connection appeared to be getting on top.
And after Colombian midfielder Christian Viveros went close, it was the diminutive Dominican Republic striker Frias who eventually put Connection into a 1-0 lead in the 35th, when he squeezed between defender Carlyle Mitchell and keeper Michael Woods before scoring near the left upright.
And before the half ended, Woods had to race quickly to the edge of his penalty area and desperately put in a late tackle to stop Frias getting a second goal.
Coach Derek King must have said some harsh words at the break because Joe Public began the second half with a real effort to get level.
The tying goal finally came in the 57th when, after misfiring on his first attempt, midfielder Baptiste buried his second shot past keeper Marvin Phillip.
And Baptiste got a second in the 63rd to put his team 2-1 ahead with the help of W Connection's consistently indecisive Brazilian centre back Renato Pereira, who hesitated to take charge of a bouncing ball in the penalty area and gave Baptiste a free shot from close -up.
W Connection kept plugging on. They thought they had won at least a penalty when Frias beat Woods to the ball in the 68th and went down in the penalty area after getting past the Joe Public custodian.
Even Woods was looking sheepishly at referee Gordon Maloney, who saw no infringement.
But Connection eventually got level in the 84th when, after being on the field for just a few minutes, Navarro met a low cross and tapped the ball in from the centre of the penalty area.
Ma Pau stun Defence Force.
By: Lasana Liburd (T&T Express).
Former Trinidad and Tobago national goalkeeper Ross Russell suffered his first Pro League defeat as coach yesterday as a youthful Ma Pau outfit stunned Defence Force 3-0 in 2009 Digicel Pro League action at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.
Defence Force lacked the energy and invention to outwit the "Casino Boys" who defended with ten players behind the ball and used the pace of stocky teenaged striker, Trevin Caesar, to good effect on the break.
All three Ma Pau items came via a rapid transition from defence to offence.
Defence Force goalkeeper Kevin Graham was at fault for Ma Pau's first item as he failed to cut out a hopeful Lyndon Andrews pass and Caesar accepted the gift, against the run of play, in the 28th minute.
Six minutes later, Ma Pau doubled their advantage as Anthony Guppy ghosted behind Defence Force right back David Alleyne to ram home following a cross from national under-20 player Sherron Joseph.
It was a rare spark from Joseph who has looked a shadow of himself this season under the new coaching regime of Michael McComie and Angus Eve, who replaced last year's boss, Ron La Forest.
Everywhere else, Ma Pau players were punching their weight though as Andrews and Wolfe offered composure in central midfield while their young defence-and, in particular, under-20 utility player Curtis Gonzales and under-17 tyro Reshad Wint-hardly put a foot wrong.
Fortune favoured the industrious at Malabar and Ma Pau got their third and final goal in the 72nd minute as substitute Shandel Samuel scoffed a left foot effort but watched the ball roll into the path of Caesar who made no mistake from close range.
And, for good measure, Ma Pau goalkeeper Shane Mattis produced some fine stops in the closing minutes to preserve his clean sheet.
Ma Pau will not be mentioned among the title favourites this season but do not expect them to roll over for anyone either.