W CONNECTION were held to a 1-1 draw by North East Stars, in a clash of teams who entered Round One Match Day Nine of the 2018 Pro League season on the opposite ends of the points standings.
This game took place in front of a sprinkling of supporters at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima.
However, there was a total of 12 goals in a doubleheader at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. Defence Force moved up to second spot after defeating Point Fortin 3-1, and Club Sando earned a 5-3 victory over Morvant Caledonia United.
North East Stars, the reigning Pro League champs, have been a shadow of themselves this season with a totally revamped squad, in terms of players and technical staff.
But they restricted Connection, the only unbeaten team left in the league, to a handful of goal-scoring opportunities in the first half.
Jameel Antoine had the closest chance in the 32nd minute when he met a ball from winger Neil Benjamin and sliced his shot wide, with only goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel to beat.
Connection’s coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier tried to shake things up at the half with a pair of substitutions, with Antoine and in-form striker Marcus Joseph replaced by Briel Thomas and Adan Noel.
Benjamin, back with Connection after a short-lived stint in Vietnam, was denied by a brilliant save from Samuel after he attacked a cross from left-back Caleb Sturge.
Three minutes later in the 51st, Stars went ahead courtesy of an own goal from Connection’s captain Gerard Williams, whose attempted headed clearance from Hayden Tinto’s freekick flew into his own net.
There was a moment of controversy in the 58th when referee Keilon Bacchus issued a yellow card to defender Lashawn Roberts, after he caught Benjamin’s right thigh with a reckless tackle – a decision which enraged the mild-mannered Charles-Fevrier and the Connection players.
Stars had a fantastic chance to put the game beyond Connection’s reach with a counter-attack, but Dareem Daniel chose to shoot instead of passing to his unmarked teammate Josiah Daniel, and his effort deflected off Williams and went overbar.
Another player back in Connection colours, substitute right-back Alvin Jones, whipped in a corner from the right to Jomal Williams, who was denied by an alert Samuel.
The equaliser duly came, in the 78th, after good work from Benjamin to pick out Kadeem Corbin who dribbled past two defenders and sent a deflected right-footed shot beyond Samuel’s reach.
Samuel capped off a good display between the uprights with an outstanding save to prevent Thomas from notching the winner, in injury time.
At Couva, the Army-Coast Guard combination proved too much for an under-manned Civic team who only fielded two substitutes.
Brent Sam (15th), Shaquille Bertrand (33rd) and Hashim Arcia (71st) were the goal-getters for Defence Force, with Bevon Bass (90th) getting the consolation for Point Fortin.
In the latter encounter, Tyrone Charles notched a beaver-trick (29th, 38th, 67th and 89th) and Shackiel Henry (90th) got the other item for Club Sando.
Keron Cummings (25th), Saydrel Lewis (60th) and Sheldon Holder (62nd) found the target for Caledonia.