MARCUS ‘Lobo’ Joseph scored his second hat-trick of the season in all competitions as W Connection trashed bitter rivals Central FC 6-1 in the first Couva Clasico of the 2018 Pro League campaign on Saturday, at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Connection (nine points) recorded a third straight league win from as many matches to now lead the standings.
Joseph’s bagged his first hat-trick of the season on June 1 in a 7-1 Charity Shield win over league holders North East Stars, who, after seven straight defeats in all competitions, celebrated their best result of the season in the opening game of Saturday’s double-header with a late 1-1 draw with Defence Force FC.
Defence Force went ahead through an own goal credited to Lashawn Roberts after 69 minutes of brilliant goalkeeping from Glenroy Samuel kept his team in the game.
But, after defender Curtis Gonzales, in a desperate effort to rescue the Teteron Boys, executed a fine piece of goalkeeping to keep out a shot from Kyle Bartholomew, in the final minute of regular time.
Gonzales was rewarded a direct red card and his marching orders before Bartholomew, the only serving player from North East Stars’ league-winning team of last season, beat the elastic frame of Andre Marchan.
Adan Noel and substitute Kierron Mason both celebrated their maiden league goals for the club they joined this season, netting Connection’s first and last items against the ‘Couva Sharks’ on a cold wet night which also saw TT international Jomal Williams, with an audacious lob, put his tally at three league goals in three consecutive appearances since returning to the ‘Savonetta Boys’ following loan stints in Mexico and Azerbaijan.
Noel put Connection ahead after just seven minutes, beating goalkeeper Marvin Phillip at the near post after collecting a Kadeem Corbin pass which dissected the Couva Sharks’ defence.
Noel, a speedy winger who joined from Club Sando, added to his shine with an assist six minutes into the second half.
Noel’s low cross from the right — at the end of a sweeping move by the Savonetta Boys – was met by Marcus Joseph who turned it past Phillip for a 2-0 cushion.
Joseph got to his double on 68 minutes to extend Connection’s lead, with a powerful finish past Phillip off a left side cross from Williams.
Central pulled back a goal from the penalty spot through Akim Armstrong in the 80th minute after Duane Muckette was tripped in the box by defender Triston Hodge.
Williams however got his name on the scoresheet in the 83rd minute to restore Connection’s three-goal cushion by lifting the ball over a hapless Phillip to find the back of the net after combining with Joseph in the box.
Joseph then secured his hat-trick when he bundled a right side Isaiah Garcia cross into the back of Phillip’s net, before Mason completed the 6-1 romp with a rasping strike past the Central goalie after a mazy run from Williams.
Club Sando and San Juan Jabloteh were also in winners’ row on Saturday, joining Defence Force on seven points after narrow wins on Saturday over Point Fortin Civic, 1-0, and Police FC, 2-1, respectively at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin and the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
Central and Connection resume play on Tuesday against Jabloteh and Sando respectively from 6 pm and 8 pm in another double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium, while Defence Force will take on Police FC from 7 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
On Wednesday, Point Fortin Civic must travel to the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima to face St Ann’s Rangers from 4 pm while Morvant Caledonia United and North East Stars will lock horns from 7 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.