Former Trinidad and Tobago youth forward Matthew Bartholomew, who had not scored a top flight goal as far back as the previous two Pro League seasons, shook off the rust with a double as Point Fortin Civic rallied from a one-goal deficit to edge St. Ann’s Rangers 2-1 on Friday night in the first game of a Pro League double-header at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
The result, which saw coach Reynold Carrington’s charges rise off the bottom but only ahead of Rangers for ninth, also snapped a ten-game winless run by Civic in all competitions stretching back to four games into last season.
But it didn’t come a surprise as Civic’s previous three outings ended in drawn results against Club Sando (1-1), Defence Force (0-0) and Police FC (0-0) respectively.
W Connection, on the opposite end of the spectrum in second, faced hosts Morvant Caledonia United in the second game and in search of maximum points to go level on points with leaders North East Stars, who have two games in hand against Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh.
But the Savonetta Boys were lucky to come away with a point as that encounter ended in a 1-1 draw after Morvant Caledonia were denied twice by the frame.
Connection forward Marcus Joseph, with his fifth goal of the season, broke the deadlock on 56 minutes, heading past goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel at the near upright off a well-placed Hughtun Hector free kick.
That lead however, lasted only ten minutes with Morvant Caledonia captain Kareem Joseph celebrating the equaliser. Connection goalkeeper Jason Belfon had pushed Kareem Baptiste’s shot onto the upright, only to see the ball ricocheted off Joseph’s leg at the goal mouth and into the net.
It was the end of Belfon’s luck after the Grenada international’s post was rocked twice in the first half.
Morvant Caledonia midfielder Kerry Daniel rattled the Connection crossbar from 30 yards out on the half-hour mark, and six minutes later the upright stood in the way of a Lester Joseph strike from the edge of the area.
But the greatest chance of the half fell to Kelrick Walters two minutes from the interval, however the Dominica international midfielder failed to control a Daniel feed at the goalmouth with Belfon at his mercy.
Earlier on the night, Rangers and Civic, two cellar-placed teams but boasting a number of young talents looked complete for draw until the final minute of regulation time.
Bartholomew, who levelled Civic in the first half, completed his double by burying substitute Juma Clarence’s low cross past goal keeper Christopher Biggette for the 2-1 victory.
Rangers, who three weeks ago stunned three-time defending Pro League champions Central FC, grabbed the lead with just 13 minutes played after attacker Anslem “Worm” Jackson controlled a deflected Keshawn Hutchinson cross in the middle of the area before beating Civic goalkeeper Akini Adams.
But Bartholomew levelled the visitors six minutes later, firing from the right off a rebound to beat Biggette, who had parried Keron Neptune’s initial shot away from goal.
Moments later Darnell Hospidales saw his free kick crash off the post after Bartholomew was brought down above the area as the excitement progressed.
Civic though, were forced into two premature changes with teenaged attacking midfielder Judah Garcia and defender Trent Lougheed retiring hurt and replaced by Jamal John and Jerren Jackie respectively before the break.
Carrington’s side created a few second half openings including an angled shot from Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 creative midfielder Justin Sadoo that had Biggette reacting to danger. Sadoo’s national U20 teammate and Rangers’ winger Kathon St. Hillare created the best chance on the opposite end but fired overbar.
And just as the match looked destined for draw, Bartholomew delivered the Civic ninetieth-minute winner which was preserved two minutes into stoppage-time by Adams, who acrobatically tipped overbar a deflected Omari Lezama free kick.
St. Ann’s Rangers 1 (Anslem Jackson 13’) vs Point Fortin Civic 2 (Matthew Bartholomew 19’, 90’), at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Morvant Caledonia United 1 (Kareem Joseph 66’) vs W Connection 1 (Marcus Joseph 56’), at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers: 22.Christoher Biggette (GK), 4.Shane Sandy (Capt.), 6.Omari Lezama, 12.Rennie Britto (9.Jair Edwards 85th minute), 15.Keshawn Hutchinson, 17.Hakim Baird, 19.Anslem Jackson, 20.Aaquil Selby, 21.Micah Lansiquot, 23.Kathon St. Hillare, 32.Marvin Lee (14.Xae Pierre De Fou 55th minute).
Unused substitutes: 1.Cleon John (GK), 3.Kareem Eastman, 8.Jordan Devonish, 11.Kazim Donald, 33.Osaze Springer.
Coach: Anthony Streete
Point Fortin Civic: 1.Akini Adams (GK), 4.Andre Ettienne (Capt.), 7.Steven Joseph, 9.Matthew Bartholomew, 10.Jabari Mitchell, 11.Keron Neptune (21.Juma Clarence 66th minute), 18.Trent Lougheed (32.Jerren Jackie 39th minute), 27.Darnell Hospedales, 33.Justin Sadoo, 34.Judah Garcia (8.Jamal John 26th minute), 53.Stephan Campbell.
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 6.Glen Sutton, 25.Shaquille Dublin, 99.Kevin Moodie.
Coach: Reynold Carrington
Referee: Joel Cox
Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 5.Joshua Sylvester (29.Kelsey Benjamin 67th minute), 6.Taje Commissiong, 7.Kelrick Walters (14.Simeon Bailey 73th minute), 12.Kareem Joseph (Capt.), 15.Otev Lawrence, 17.Kerry Daniel, 18.Maestro Mensah, 20.Kareem Baptiste, 22.Joshua Alexander (24.Michael Ten-Pow 79th minute), 23.Lester Joseph.
Unused substitutes: 31.De Journ Cahrles (GK), 8.Anthony Charles, 11.Quincy Ballah, 13.Rufuson Pierre Louis.
Coach: Jamaal Shabazz
W Connection: 33.Jason Belfon (GK), 3.Gerard Williams, 4.Maurice Ford, 7.Neil Benjamin Jr., 10.Dimitri Apai (12.Jevaughn Humphrey 83rd minute), 11.Shirvone Malik St. Prix (20.Daniel Diaz 71st minute), 13.Hughtun Hector (Capt.) (Yellow Card), 21.Ronell Paul, 24.Jameel Antoine, 32.Isaiah Hudson (26.Isaiah Garcia 75th minute), 99.Marcus Joseph.
Unused substitutes: 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 6.Caleb Gasper, 17.Qian Grosvenor, 30.Shaquille John.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Referee: Keilon Bacchus