Morvant Caledonia United became the latest victim of title-chasing W Connection last night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training ground, which welcomed for the first time in its history, floodlights.
Second half goals by Jamal Charles, Jelani Peters and Hughtun Hector ensured Connection were comfortable 3-0 winners over Morvant Caledonia to celebrate a fifth straight win.
The result put the Digicel Pro League 2016-17 leaders at 40 points, five points more than rivals and second-positioned Central FC, who have two games in hand against Point Fortin Civic and Defence Force.
Central, champions of 2014-15 and 2015-16, will travel to the Larry Gomes Stadium today (Saturday) against Civic from 3:30pm before clashing with Defence Force on Tuesday from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Minister of Sport, Darryl Smith, and a brigade of other ministry officials including MP for Laventille West, Fitzgerald Hinds, and Sport Company (SPORTT) chairman Michael Phillips, and officials from the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission were all on hand for the commissioning of the floodlights at the HCS training ground.
Then it was down to action on the slick surface due to earlier rainfall.
However no goals were produced in the first half which saw Connection’s Neil Benjamin Jr. guide his team’s best chance overbar, and on the other end lively Morvant Caledonia’s Guyanese teenager Kelsey Benjamin curl a brilliant effort just wide.
Connection, though, broke the floodgates in the second half with a quick-fire double as Caledonia’s earlier resolute defending seemed to wear off against the Savonetta Boys.
Charles, with a neat flick off the outside of his boot to beat goalkeeper Kern Caesar, celebrated his eight league goal to put Connection 1-0 in front from Dimitrie Apai’s cross in the 50th-minute.
Two minutes later Connection were celebrating another and it was 2-0 advantage. This time defender Peters heading in substitute Shaquille John’s cross from a free-kick which was misjudged by Caesar. Peters partying with his first goal of the season before he jets off to Canada for trial at Toronto FC’s B team later this month.
Hector made it 3-0 just two minutes onto the pitch. Andre Toussaint brilliantly held up play at the edge of the area before slipping a pass to Hector who darted into area and controlled the ball before hitting past a hapless Caesar.
Caesar had moments earlier produced a wonderful save to deny Charles a second on the night. The Grenada international forward was also denied five minutes from time when his powerful drive was cleared off the line by a Jelani Felix.
Caledonia, whose closest effort to a goal arrived in the 80th-minute when Dylon King hammered a strike onto the near upright, failed to end a winless slide—four of the last five ending in defeats. The Eastern Stallions are anchored ninth on the ten-team table on 11 points with just two games remaining in the shortened season.
San Juan Jabloteh and Ma Pau Stars, in a personal battle for a respectable third place finish—with Connection and Central virtually securing the top-two spots—both enjoyed wins in a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Jabloteh improved their position in third to 29 points after trashing St. Ann’s Rangers 5-0, but Ma Pau Stars kept alive their mathematical chance with a 2-0 win over Defence Force.
Veteran forwards Kerry Baptiste and Jason Scotland both netted in the second half for fourth-positioned Ma Pau, who are now on 25 points, while a second-half double from Nathan Lewis and a goal each from Jamal Gay, Keyon Edwards and Aaquil Campbell earned Jabloteh their comfortable three points.
St. Ann’s Rangers 0 vs San Juan Jabloteh 5 (Jamal Gay 10’, Keyon Edwards 28’, Nathan Lewis 37’, 68’, Aaquil Campbell 89’), at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Ma Pau Stars 2 (Kerry Baptiste 56’, Jason Scotland 82’) vs Defence Force 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Morvant Caledonia United 0 vs W Connection 3 (Jamal Charles 50’, Jelani Peters 52’, Hughtun Hector 82’), at Hasely Crawford Stadium training ground.
Morvant Caledonia United: 30.Kern Caesar (GK), 5.Seon Thomas, 7.Kordell Samuel (27.Dominic Jangoo 79th minute), 8.Anthony Charles (11.Dominic Douglas 82nd minute), 9.Dylon King, 15.Otev Lawrence, 18.Maestro Mensah, 22.Jameel Neptune, 25.Jelani Felix, 29.Kelsey Benjamin (23.Lester Joseph 56th minute).
Unused substitutes: 6.Taje Commissiong, 14.Keron Bethelmy, 19.Shawndell Agustus, 31.Kakeem Lucas (GK).
Coach: Rajesh Latchoo
W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams (Capt.), 4.Maurice Ford (30.Shaquille John 46th minute), 8.Briel Thomas (35.Jesus Perez 80th minute), 11.Neil Benjamin Jr. (13.Hughtun Hector 70th minute), 14.Andre Toussaint, 20.Jamal Charles, 23.Kevon Goddard, 27.Jelani Peters.
Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 21.Ronell Paul, 26.Shaquille Bertrand, 37.Daniel Diaz.
Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier
Referee: Rashby Mc Phie