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Apai rescues Connection in Central derby

Thursday, February 13 2014

DIMITRIE APAI scored in stoppage time to level Digicel Pro League leaders DIRECT W Connection to a 2-2 come-from-behind draw against bitter rivals Central FC on Tuesday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva in a Digicel Pro League battle.

The 19-year-old Suriname forward, who joined Connection during the mid-season transfer window, dived in at the back of the defence to bury Shahdon Winchesterís cross past goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, with a powerful equalising header, in the third minute of five minutes stoppage time played by referee Michael London.

Earlier, London, who made a number of questionable calls, had spectators most confused in the 86th minute and Central head coach Terry Fenwick boiling at the touchline, when he awarded Connection a penalty.

London blew and pointed to the spot confidently when Connection midfielder Joevin Jones went to ground after colliding with Central substitute Leston Paul, who was in the process of heading clear a dangerous ball played back across the area by teammate Jamal Jack.

Jones then stepped to the spot, and reduced the deficit to 2-1 when his powerfully struck kick proved slightly better than Central goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, who read the penalty kick well and creditably had some glove to the ball.

Connection, now 33 points at the top and 10 points clear of second positioned Point Fortin Civic (23 points), in the end, overcoming a two-goal deficit and some back luck to finish a very entertaining contest with a point.

Behind them in third are Police FC (21 points) who edged a determined cellar-positioned St Annís Rangers 1-0 in the first match at the Couva venue.

Jameel Perry broke the deadlock on 74 minutes when he directed in a dangerous cross by former Rangers utility player Clevon Mc Fee to beat goalkeeper Terrence Lewis.

Rangers had a late chance to level the scores from the penalty spot after referee Dennis Changiah spotted defender Josimar Ashersí pulled down of Josh Toussaint inside the area. But forward Michael Yaw Darko wasted the opportunity when he struck the upright.

While at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, North East Stars and San Juan Jabloteh played to a 0-0 draw.

The feature match of Round Two Match Day Seven, however, lived up to derby expectations.

Seconds into the contest Connection goalie Julani Archibald had to brilliantly measure Willis Plazaís effort, rooting it out at the low corner, following errant clearance by Daneil Cyrus which fell to the Central forward at the top of the area.

And in the 22nd minute Central midfielder Darren Mitchell, who was involved in the opening minute opportunity, struck the far upright after he was played inside by Plaza.

Fenwick was forced to make a premature change in the 31st minute, replacing an injured Ataullah Guerra (shoulder) with Rundell Winchester and got immediate success.

Seconds onto the pitch, R. Winchester raced down the right and slipped a pass inside the six yard area to find onrushing Plaza, who poked a strike between the legs of Archibald for a 1-0 lead.

Joevin Jones, who landed the tackle that eventually forced Guerra out of the match, tried pulling his team level from distance in the 41st minute but Williams produced a diving save to keep the effort out.

On the other end Archibald also had to make a stop just before the halftime whistle, charging down a Samuel Delice strike after Mitchell slipped a pass wide instead of the going for goal himself. Two minutes inside the second period Archibald produced another stop, when he kept out a R. Winchester strike and the rebound was spilled wide by the Tobagonian, all after Plaza had disposed Cyrus of the ball. Connection, who had winger Neil Benjamin Jr. wrongfully adjudged offside in the 12th minute by second assistant Ezra Bartholomew after Central midfielder and captain Marvin Oliver last touch backwards, failed to score two great chances in a space five minutes.

Striker Hashim Arcia was the culprit on both occasions, first guiding a brilliant low Alvin Jonesí cross onto the crossbar in the 56th minute with only goalkeeper Williams to beat, and from another A. Jones cross in the 60th minute the lanky forward placed his effort wide.

Arciaís efforts were separated by Plazaís on target effort in the 58th minute, which Archibald saved, and a wide attempt moments later.

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