Jabloteh battle for 3rd spot
by Ian Prescott
Trinidad Express

Sunday, May 17th 2009

W Connection FC will battle to regain the title of Caribbean champions when they take on Puerto Rico Islanders in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship final from 6.30 this evening at the Marvin Lee Stadium (MLS), Macoya.

Both finalists have also automatically qualified for the 2009/2010 CONCACAF Champions League, while 2008 T&T Pro League champs San Juan Jabloteh will battle for third position, and the final Champions League qualifying spot, when they take on tough Haitian champs Tempete FC from 4 p.m.

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After nipping at Jabloteh’s heels all of last season, W Connection, the 2008 Pro League runners-up, got the better of the champs by a 2-1 margin in the late match of the CFU semi-final double-header on Friday night at Macoya.

W Connection raced to a two-goal first half lead through Dominican Republic striker Jonathan Frias (35th) and a long-range bullet from midfielder Houghton Hector (38th).

But, Jabloteh made it interesting in the 65th when Elton John hit a bullet past keeper Marvin Phillip to make it 2-1.

The importance of Friday’s match killed the quality of play between Trinidad and Tobago’s top two teams.

Jabloteh started quickly and Atullah Guerra forced a brilliant save from Phillip, who touched away his shot at the back post.

And in the 32nd, Guerra almost caught out Phillip from a free-kick, the W Connection keeper back-pedalling furiously to just tip the ball over the bar.

For much of the game, the usually silky-smooth W Connection midfield was off-colour.

However, in the 35th, Frias ran onto a through ball and clipped it over keeper Cleon John to give the South team a 1-0 lead.

Hector then doubled the advantage three minutes later when shooting from some 25 metres out and giving the Jabloteh keeper no chance.

After searching hard for a goal, Jabloteh finally got one when defender John wrapped his right foot around a free-kick taken short from Marvin Oliver and gave Phillip not even a prayer of stopping his shot which went into the top corner.

But Phillip did produce a miracle two minutes from the end when getting a finger up to keep Guerra’s curling shot out of the far corner of his net.

Soon after, recent Mr Point Fortin winner Matthew Bartholomew was put clear by a defence-splitting pass from Frias, but the former Hungary-based W Connection striker hit his powerful shot into the midriff of the Jabloteh keeper.

Time then ran out on Jabloteh as the match switched from end to end in the closing minutes.