Striker Kerry Daniel finished in emphatic fashion with a long-range bullet in the 84th minute as Caledonia AIA moved to the top of the Digicel Pro League after a thrilling 3-2 victory over Joe Public at the Marvin Lee Stadium on Tuesday night.
The result repeated the scoreline on the opening day of the season when "Cali" were then on the wrong end of a 3-2 duel. However, victory two nights ago put the Morvant-Laventille side on top of the pile with 28 points from 13 matches, one more than San Juan Jabloteh who have played a match less. Joe Public are third on 25 points.
The East derby was well attended by a crowd obviously eager to see 40 year-old national coach and former Porto midfielder Russell Latapy, who last played local football in the 1990's with Trintoc.
The teams went into the match balanced on 25 points and a similar goal-average, and fittingly the ended a very exciting first half balanced at 1-1.
With Latapy and national team players Densill Theobald and Keon Daniel running the middle, Caledonia AIA had the better of a good first half and made the early running.
It was during that time that "Latas" showed he still had the class to match the youngsters when he took a pass atop the penalty area and hit a quick low shot which had the Joe Public goalkeeper Michael Wood scrambling. Caledonia finally made their early dominance count in the eighth minute when a speculative shot by Kareem Joseph flew off Wood's hands and dropped into the net. But AIA did not make use of several chances to put away the "Eastern Lions."
Latapy, who played for 70 minutes, ought to have done better and was expected to score when picked out in the centre of the box by Walter Moore. Latas hit a low shot but Woods was in position. Soon after, Woods was again in perfect position at the top of the penalty area to stop the run of Keyon Edwards. And later, Edwards didn't seem to have a clue what to do when the ball was bouncing nicely at his feet in the six-metre box and lost his chance.
Joe Public took time to settle but started running once the league's top-scorer Kerry Baptiste scored in the 30th to level the match at 1-1. Baptiste first brought a good shot out of AIA keeper Dwayne Sandy, but made no mistake with the rebound which he rifled like a bullet into the back of the net - his 19th goal of the season.
And Baptiste seemed to have lost another chance in the 39th when taking a cross, but hesitating to shoot first tim. However, he still got off a good shot, only for defender Kestore Jacobs to stop the ball from entering the goal. Joe Public ended the half stronger and almost took the lead when Micah Lewis blew by two defenders on the right and hit a powerful low shot which the keeper Sandy only just smothered.
Early in the second half, Latapy put a through ball into Keyon Edwards inside the penalty area. But the league's second highest goal-scorer hit wide of the far post. Caledonia finally took a 2-1 lead via the most unlikely source, central defender Charles Pollard, who scrambled in a free-kick with his head in the 79th when the Joe Public defenders failed to decisively deal with the cross. And Daniel made it 3-1 with his bullet six minutes from the end which gave goalie Wood no chance as it flew into the top far corner of the net. So, by the time Public central defender Keyeno Thomas stabbed in Daneil Cyrus' cross two minutes into injury time, the game had already been settled.
TUESDAY'S DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE RESULTS:
Ma Pau SC 2 (Trevin Caesar 69th, Anthony Wolfe 70th) v Tobago United 0
Defence Force 2 (Jerwyn Balthazar 24th, Devon Jorsling 30th) v FC South End 0
Police FC 1 (Hayden Jones 3rd) v St. Ann's Rangers 2 (Adrian Narine 13th, Devon Modest 20th)
Caledonia AIA 3 (Kareem Joseph 8th, Charles Pollard 79th, Kerry Daniel 84th) v Joe Public 2 (Kerry Baptiste 30th, Keyeno Thomas 90th)