Caesar strike keeps Stars within top two
Three first half goals, a red card, and a possibility of a ruined farewell party, were all part of the drama during Friday's Couva-derby between bitter town-rivals W Connection and Central FC, which finished 3-0 in favour of the "Sharks".
More so fueling the excitement of the final stretch of this season's league title, in which the winner receives $1,000,000.
Connection, with 37 points and a game in hand at the top of the 2013/2014 Digicel Pro League standings, maintained its position, but had its lead sliced to just five points by the end of the Round Three Match Day Two double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Earlier, North East Stars edged eight positioned San Juan Jabloteh 1-0 to move second with 32 points, but slipped into third by the end of the second match.
Central, also with 32 points, returned to second with a better goal-difference, while fourth are Point Fortin Civic (29 points), who will face reigning champs and fifth positioned Defence Force (23 points) from 6 pm on Sunday at the very same Couva venue.
A superb 23-yard free-kick, around the wall and fitting just inside goalkeeper Julani Archibald's upright, by 38-year-old Central midfielder and captain, Marvin Oliver, handed his side a 1-0 advantage by the 18th minute.
And by the same minute in the earlier match, striker Trevin Caesar, between two spectator-like defenders, headed powerfully past goalkeeper Shane Mattis off a perfect Kaashif Thomas cross from the right to hand the Angus Eve coached North East Stars a 1-0 advantage and the eventual winner with his eleventh league goal this season.
But by the 20th minute in the feature match, Atualla Guerra doubled Central’s advantage with a laser from above the area, hitting the inside of the right upright before the ball nestled into the left netting.
The Terry Fenwick coached-Central surprised again for a 3-0 score by the 29th minute, against a side that defeated them 1-0 in Round One of the league and 6-5 on penalties following a 2-2 draw in the Final of the FA Trophy this season.
Striker Willis Plaza, notched his seventh goal since joining the "Sharks" in January, with a simple finish from close-up after defender Mekeil Williams failed to clear a cross from the left by Jason Marcano.
There were moments of concern for Central though. Midfielder Darren Mitchell failed to continue past the 10th minute, after picking up an injury to his right upper leg in contest with Shahdon Winchester three minutes earlier.
Mitchell was replaced by striker Dwight Quintero, and Central, backed by the captivating sounds of its rhythm posse, and hundreds of spectators that turned up, didn't fail to deliver.
Then when goalscorer Guerra was shown his second yellow card – an automatic red – in the 44th minute for dissent after a call against him by referee Rodphin Harris, Central were made to defend their advantage.
The "Sharks" did so successfully with defenders Jamal Jack, Elton John, Yohance Marshall and Keion Goodridge. Even with Connection coach Stuart Charles Fevrier unleashing his Suriname strike duo of Stefano Rijssel and Dimitrie Apai following the break.
Meanwhile S. Winchester, who possibly played his final match in W Connection strip before returning to Finland with FF Jaro later this month, clearly had his going away party spoiled.
But the 22-year-old wasn't short of a fighting performance.
Coming off a double in his previous match, S. Winchester was eager to get on the scoresheet, forcing goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams into action just seconds into the match.
Williams had to make a low gather against the striker again in the 23rd minute, and five minutes later he struck the side netting.
Three minutes from time the speedy forward was denied when his looped effort against a committed-Williams at the near post was cleared behind by defender Marshall.
Then in stoppage time, Apai struck over-bar on receiving a neat through-ball by S. Winchester.
Central, who defeated the "Savonnetta Boys" 4-2 on penalties following a goalless semi-final round meet en route to lifting the First Citizens Cup and drew 2-2 in Round Two of the league this season, had three late unsuccessful attempts by Plaza.
But it was substitute Quintero that wasted the best opportunity of the half near the hour mark, when his poor touch inside the area, on a brilliant deep pass from Rundell Winchester, sent the ball out of play with goalkeeper Archibald at his mercy.
In the earlier match, goalscorer Caesar had three bites at goal in quick succession on the 8th minute of play, but struck over-bar on the final attempt after block-outs by goalkeeper Mattis and defender Dwane James.
But his item, ten minutes later, was enough to hold off Jabloteh and a few former Stars’ players – Kerry Baptiste, Jean-Luc Rochford , Micah Lewis, and substitute Marcus Gomez.
Jabloteh, stuck with 11 points from 17 matches in eight position, are eight points ahead of cellar positioned St. Ann’s Rangers.
The St. Ann’s club will take to the field on Saturday 15 March, when they face sixth positioned Police FC from 4 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium.
Round Three Match Day Two continues on Saturday when
Digicel Pro League 2013/2014
Round Three Match Day Two
Friday's results, at the Ato Boldon Stadium
San Juan Jabloteh 0—1 North East Stars
Trevin Caesar 18'
W Connection 0—3 Central FC
Marvin Oliver, 18', Atualla Guerra 20', Willis Plaza 29'
San Juan Jabloteh—30. Shane Mattis (GK), 10. Kerry Baptiste (C), 18. Jevon Morris, 24. Kareem Smith, 4. Jean-Luc Rochford, 16. Nyron Jones (23. Marcus Gomez 46th minute) (Yellow Card), 25. Alfie James (17. Kerry Daniel 65th minute), 2. Duran Dilworth, 15. Micah Lewis, 20. Dwane James, 8. Bradley Welch (7. Rennie Britto 76th minute)
Unused substitutes—19. Dillon Kirton, 9. Jelani Felix, 21. Neil Mitchell, 5. Mudassa Howe
North East Stars—22. Cleon John (GK) (C), 5. Aquil Selby, 7. Elijah Manners, 15. Chike Sullivan, 18. Kaashif Thomas (8. Keron Cummings 61st minute), 19. Glenton Wolfe, 20. Trevin Caesar (48. Jesus Perez 88th minute), 23. Kennedy Hinkson (Yellow Card), 25. Keryn Navarro, 6. Jeromie Williams (Yellow Card) (41. Neveal Hackshaw 72nd minute), 12. Jayson Joseph
Unused substitutes—1. Stephan Berkeley (GK), 9. Akiel Guevara, 16. Franz Husbands, 40. Jomoul Francis
Match Referee—Cecil Hinds
W Connection—18. Julani Archibald (GK), 3. Gerard Williams (C), 4. Daneil Cyrus, 7. Silvio Spann (Yellow Card) (40. Jomol Williams 67th minute) (Yellow Card), 2. Kurt Frederick, 10. Joevin Jones, 12. Jerrel Britto (20. Stefano Rijssel 46th minute), 14. Hashim Arcia (32. Demitrie Apai 46th minute), 15. Mekeil Williams (Yellow Card), 39. Alvin Jones, 16. Shahdon Winchester
Unused substitutes—19. Leslie Joel Russell, 22. Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 25. Christian Viveros, 13. Devaughn Elliot
Coach—Stuart Charles Fevrier
Central FC—21. Jan-Michael Williams (GK),1. Willis Plaza, 2. Elton John (Yellow Card), 3. Keion Goodridge, 7. Jason Marcano, 10. Marvin Oliver (C), 11. Darren Mitchell (9. Dwight Quintero 12th minute) (24. Akeem Benjamin 89th minute),12. Jamal Jack, 17. Rundell Winchester (6. Leston Paul 77th minute), 50. Yohance Marshall, 45. Atualla Guerra (Yellow Card+Yellow Card=Red Card)
Unused substitutes—25. Javon Sample (GK), 4. Sean de Silva, 15. Kaydion Gabriel, 22. Keon Trim
Match Referee—Rodphin Harris