Central celebration: ‘Couva Sharks’ win Digicel Pro League 2014-2015 crown

 Central FC star midfielder Ataulla Guerra, at centre stage with TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene, hoists the 2014-2015 Digicel Pro League title while teammate Leston Paul keeps grip on the Kevon Carter (Round Three) trophy following Tuesday’s 2-1 win over North East Stars to secure both titles. (Photo: Allan V. Crane / www.ttproleague.com)

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Central FC clinched their maiden Digicel Pro League crown on Tuesday, in just their third season of existence, with a hard fought 2-1 comeback win over North East Stars at the Ato Boldon Stadium, which collapsed the final block of hope previously held by bitter Couva rivals W Connection, who had to settle for runners-up in the million-dollar race.

Willis Plaza – utilised off the bench in the second period – scored the winner with two minutes left on the clock after assisting in midfielder Ataulla Guerra’s crucial equaliser against a very formidable North East Stars, who had taken the lead in the 4th minute of play through teenaged midfielder Neveal Hackshaw, who defeated goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams at the near post.

But Guerra, after a bit of contemplating, levelled the scores 1-1 in the 68th minute with his 15th league goal of the season when he found the far bottom corner of goalkeeper Cleon John’s netting following a feed from Plaza.

John, who had made a number of top class saves, including a second half point-blank shutout against Sean de Silva, was beaten again in the 88th minute with Plaza making sure of the league title in style by blasting low into the far corner from the top of the box for his 10th league goal since returning to Central in January.
Central FC star forward Willis Plaza celebrates scoring the winner during his team’s 2-1 victory over North East Stars on April 28, 2015 at the Ato Boldon Stadium to secure the 2014-2015 Digicel Pro League crown. (Photo: Allan V. Crane / www.ttproleague.com)
“It was the game plan to let Dwight Quintero run their (North East Stars) legs out, then I would come in and finish the job,” said the 27-year-old Plaza, who dedicated his winning goal to his mother, Isadora Torres, who was seated amongst the hundreds of Central FC supporters when her son scored.

“This year I wanted us to prove a point by winning the league,” added Plaza, who was part of the Central team that finished runners-up behind last season’s champions W Connection.

“We had a good opportunity to win the league last season but took our foot off the pedal. But this year it was about showing we are the best by coming first.”

Central, having completed all of their league matches this season, have attained an unassailable 55 points from 24 matches, six points clear of last season’s winners W Connection (49 points), who will wrap up their league campaign against sixth placed San Juan Jabloteh on Friday 1 May from 8 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Central, winners of this season’s First Citizens Cup and Rawle Fletcher (Round One) and Akeem Adams (Round Two) trophies under previous head coach Zoran Vranes, who was replaced last month by Terry Fenwick, are now celebrating their second major title of the season.

Central, who also secured the Kevon Carter (Round Three) trophy on Tuesday night will receive the top pay-out of $1,000,000 as league winners, while Connection have secured the runners-up take of $300,000 and Defence Force, the third place pay-out of $150,000, while every over team down the ladder gets $130,000.

“Up to the last and second to last day we had two teams competing for the million dollar prize and that says a lot for the league,” said TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene on Tuesday night. “Third to eight place the points were very close as well, and that augurs well for the league because at any given day, they could spring some surprises and we can have results that were not predictable, and that’s a great fillip for the league.”

But Central, self-assured of the crown, had already put in place early plans for their Digicel Pro League 2014-2015 title celebrations at the New Settlement Recreation Ground in Chaguanas after the match.
Central FC head coach Terry Fenwick pictured glancing over at North East Stars head coach Angus Eve during their teams’ clash on April 28, 2015 at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Central won the match 2-1 to secure the 2014-2015 Digicel Pro League crown. (Photo: Allan V. Crane / www.ttproleague.com)
It meant that coach Fenwick, a three-time league winner at former club San Juan Jabloteh, needed a point against North East Stars, coached by his former apprentice, Angus Eve, to secure the title on Tuesday night to be able to carry on with planned celebrations after W Connection, the only team with the faintest of chances to topple the “Couva Sharks”, had defeated Police FC 2-1 in the earlier match of the rescheduled Round Three Match Day Seven double header.

W Connection forward Hashim Arcia scored in either side of the half, taking his league scoring tally this season to 9 goals, while overturning a one-goal deficit as coach Stuart Charles Fevrier’s side celebrated full points.

In a contest marred by wasted chances and the frame denying Connection duo of Neil Benjamin Jr and Jomal Williams and Police duo of Shaquille Nesbitt and Kareem Freitas, after Police forward Makesi Lewis had opened the scoring in the 7th minute, Arcia stood out the hero.

The talented Connection forward equalised in the 44th minute, hitting past goalkeeper Adrian Foncette off a well-placed Jerrel Britto cross, before netting the winner in the 89th minute with a classy finish into the bottom corner off substitute Devaughn Elliot’s feed at the top of the box.

By then there was no coming back for seventh placed Police, who had their head coach Richard Hood ejected in the 43rd minute and trainer Brian Headley followed suit in the 77th minute.

But at the end of the second match involving Central FC and North East Stars, Central had two coaches, Fenwick and Zoran Vranes, frolicking at the touchline.

“A great job has been done here,” exclaimed Fenwick following the match. “…But first and foremost I’d like to thank Vranes. The reason we brought him down from the stands is because he is very much a big part of this. He deserves it. He has been here for the long period of the season. But I came in and got it over the line in the end.

“It’s our first league championship for Central FC and it’s a huge thing for the club. The boys have been head and shoulders above the rest of the league all season and thoroughly deserve it. The rest of it comes second to the players.”


Fenwick added, “We got exactly what we expected [against North East Stars tonight]… a very defensive side and not trying to give too much away while trying the counterattack football. But we bossed the game and although we didn’t create much chances, we got the title and teams like North East are still miles away from us.”

Note: North East Stars won the Pro League title in 2004, in the fourth year of the club’s existence, while W Connection won its first league title in 2000 in the then PFL, in just their second year of professional existence. Since then Connection have won the league title again in 2001 (PFL) and 2005, 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 (Pro League).

Digicel Pro League 2014-2015
Tuesday’s results at the Ato Boldon Stadium

W Connection 2 (Hashim Arcia 44’, 89’) vs Police FC 1 (Makesi Lewis 7’)
Central FC 2 (Ataulla Guerra 68’, Willis Plaza 88’) vs North East Stars 1 (Neveal Hackshaw 4’)

Digicel Pro League 2014-2015 standings

Rank

Team

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Points

1

Central FC

24

17

4

3

63

19

44

55

2

W Connection

23

15

4

4

45

17

28

49

3

Defence Force

23

11

3

8

45

29

16

39

4

Point Fortin Civic 

23

10

3

10

45

40

5

33

5

North East Stars

23

9

6

8

24

24

0

33

6

San Juan Jabloteh

23

7

7

8

30

38

-8

28

7

Police FC

23

7

6

10

32

46

-14

27

8

Caledonia AIA

23

7

5

11

30

42

-12

26

9

St. Ann’s Rangers

23

0

2

21

19

77

-58

2

 Outstanding Digicel Pro League 2014-2015 matches
Round Three Match Day Nine
Friday 1 may 2015
Hasely Crawford Stadium
Defence Force vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6 pm
San Juan Jabloteh vs W Connection—8 pm

Saturday 2 May 2015
Larry Gomes Stadium
North East Stars vs Caledonia AIA—4 pm

Tuesday 5 May 2015
Ato Boldon Stadium
Point Fortin Civic vs Police FC—8pm

Teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday
W Connection
: 3.Gerard Williams, 5.Mekeil Williams, 65.Neil Benjamin Jr. (13.Devaughn Elliot 86th minute), 12.Jerrel Britto, 14.Hashim Arcia, 8.Jhon Stiven Lopez, 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 27.Shannon Gomez (39.Alvin Jones 80th minute), 36.Triston Hodge (39.Alvin Jones 80th minute), 19.Leslie Joel Russell (Yellow Card), 40.Jomal Williams (Yellow Card)

Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 2.Kurt Frederick, 11.Tremain Shayn Paul, 26.Maurice Ford, 30.Aaquil Campbell

Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier

Police FC: 1.Kareem Freitas (Yellow Card), 17.Dexter Alleyne (5.Anton Hutchinson 86th minute), 6.Kenaz Williams, 7.Makesi Lewis, 18.Adrian Foncette, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 21.Todd Ryan (8.Kurdell Braithwaite 12th minute) (Yellow Card), 24.Jibri Mc David (Yellow Card), 2.Jasimar Ashers, 19.Christon Thomas, 23.Shaquille Nesbitt (29.Clevon Mc Fee 75th minute)

Unused substitutes: 10.Trevin Latapy, 39.Kevin Lewis, 40.Sharkeel Donatien, 38.Kadeem Boyce

Coach: Richard Hood

Match Referee: Rodphin Harris

Central FC: 5.Akeem Benjamin, 45.Ataulla Guerra, 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 15.Kaydion Gabriel (Yellow Card) (7.Jason Marcano 61st minute), 12.Jamal Jack (Yellow Card), 6.Leston Paul, 2.Elton John, 11.Darren Mitchell (10.Marvin Oliver 46th minute), 8.Sean de Silva, 99.Dwight Quintero (33.Willis Plaza 46th minute) (Yellow Card), 3.Keion Goodridge

Unused substitutes: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 17.Marcelle Francois, 19.Nathaniel Garcia, 4.Uriah Bentick

Coach: Terry Fenwick

North East Stars: 10.Keron Cummings, 12.Jayson Joseph, 5.Aquil Selby, 15.Glenton Wolfe, 18.Kaashif Thomas (9.Xae-Pierre De Fou 90th minute), 22.Cleon John (GK), 23.Kennedy Hinkson (14.Dwane James 63rd minute), 25.Keryn Navarro, 38.Jesus Perez, 41.Neveal Hackshaw (6.Jeromie Williams 71st minute), 44.Keon Joseph

Unused substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 26.Zavion Navarro, 35.Jordan Devonish, 50.Shaquille Thomas

Coach: Angus Eve

Match Referee: Dave Daniel