Revenge of the Stars: Caesar double puts Central's league title chances in the limbo

North East Stars forward Trevin Caesar (left) during Digicel Pro League action against Defence Force. At right is Defence Force striker Balondemu Julius.
Two early goals by Trevin Caesar on Tuesday night were enough as North East Stars defeated Central 2-1 in Round Three Match Day Seven of the Digicel Pro League, exacting revenge over the side that booted them out of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield in the semi-final round last Friday.

The Stars’ win could also be the blow that swats the league title hopes of Central (38 points), with just three matches remaining and seven points away from longstanding leaders and title favourites W Connection (45 points).

Central, dropping two spots into fourth on the standings, must now win its three remaining fixtures against Police FC (April 22), San Juan Jabloteh (May 6) and St. Ann’s Rangers (May 13), and hope that everything goes wrong for Connection, who must play the defending champions Defence Force back-to-back on May 4 and 6 before ending against Caledonia AIA on May 13.

Defence Force, also contesting the title and now stands with a better chance than Central, maintained its mathematical chance at the title—which also carries a million dollar cash prize—with a late 1-0 win over Police FC in the first match of a double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday.

With ace forward Devorn Jorsling sidelined with a hamstring injury picked up during a 3-1 win over Police in a rescheduled clash on Sunday, the army/coastguard combination needed a strike from right-back Corey Rivers in stoppage-time to extract full points against the “Lawmen” and extend league their winning streak to seven matches.

And in the second match at the Couva venue, Point Fortin Civic slammed San Juan Jabloteh 3-0 to move up a spot into second with 39 points.

An early double by Marcus Joseph, netting in the 4th and 9th minutes – the latter from the penalty spot for his 15th league goal this season – and a 55th minute item by Jamille Boatswain kept the southerners one point ahead of Defence Force (third with 38 points) and Central FC.

But with just one match left to play against Caledonia on May 6, Civic are unlikely for second place finish.

North East Stars, also unlikely for a second place finish, remains fifth with 36 points despite their 2-1 win over Central.

Caesar handed the Angus Eve coached-Stars a 1-0 lead by the 5th minute with a powerful strike from an angle to beat goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams at the near post after evading right-back Akeem Benjamin.

And by the 18th minute the speedy Tobagonian celebrated his second on the night and 14th league goal this season when he raced behind defender Benjamin to hit past Williams from a short cross by midfielder Jayson Joseph.

Central failed to rebound before the break against a tactically organized Stars outfit, which kept the “Sharks” creative midfield duo of Marvin Oliver and Ataullah Guerra at bay.

Fenwick responded with a double change at the restart, adding midfielders Darren Mitchell and Sean de Silva at the expense of defender Benjamin and winger Samuel Delice.

But it was from a handball ruled by referee Rodphin Harris against Stars left-back Jesus Perez on a cross by Jamal Jack that offered Central a penalty in the 54th minute and Guerra was clinical from the spot to reduce the deficit 1-2.

However Jack, who was denied by goalkeeper Cleon John in the 20th and 31st minutes, didn’t play past the 65th minute because of an injury to his left knee sustained in a follow-through tackle by Perez, causing further problems for Central head coach Terry Fenwick.

In-form Central forward Willis Plaza was also limited to just three attempts on the night; hitting wide in the 8th minute but brought two excellent saves out of John in the 42nd and 87th minutes, winning a corner in both instances.

John also executed a save against a Chike Sullivan strike two minutes before the break and was happy to see a Marvin Oliver header in the 79th minute, and a stoppage time effort from substitute Darren Mitchell fly off target.

In the earlier match at the Port of Spain venue, cellar-positioned St. Ann’s Rangers celebrated only their second win of the season by surprising Caledonia to a 3-2 score under the charge of caretaker Anthony Streete.

Streete, only in his third match in charge this season since taking over from Gilbert Bateau for the remainder of the season, pulled off a win against a side that defeated Rangers 6-1 and 3-0 in round one and two respectively.

Twenty-two-year-old St. Kitts/Nevis attacker Kennedy Isles gave Rangers the lead twice, before Keron Cornwall’s winner in the 84th minute.

Isles, who wasted wide from inside the area in just the 4th minute off a squared pass by Julani Peters, scored one of the most brilliant goals of the season in the 21st minute for a 1-0 lead.

Isles’ quick thinking from the centre of the field paid in full when his floated effort sailed over a goalkeeper Shemel Lousion, caught well off his line, and into the back of the net.

Lousion later gifted Isles a pass above the area in the 33rd minute but the Rangers' attacker’s half volley flew over-bar.

And within the same minute on the other end Caledonia equalized 1-1 when Grenadian forward Denron Frederick turned and hit into the upper corner past goalkeeper Akel Clarke from a Purnell Schultz cross.

But Isles restored Rangers’ lead for a 2-1 score a minute before the break when he slipped a low strike past Caledonia and Grenada goalie Louison after he was sent through by a Kadeem Corbin pass.

However by the 52nd minute Caledonia, without card-suspended Densill Theobald and rested veterans Stephan David and Kareem Joseph, were back on level terms with a 2-2 score when midfielder Keyon Edwards turned in a Nathan Lewis corner at the back post.

Lewis, who had an effort cleared off the line by Peters in the 15th minute, had a low effort in the 73rd minute but Clarke, who denied Schultz in the 39th minute, made another stop.

Then came the decider six minutes from time when Cornwall bundled a cross over the line to snatch full points for evidently proud Rangers.
 
Digicel Pro League
Round Three Match Day Seven results
Police FC 0—1 Defence Force

Corey Rivers 90'+2

St. Ann's Rangers 3—2 Caledonia AIA

Kennedy Isles 21', 44', Keron Cornwall 84' ;  Denron Frederick 33', Keyon Edwards 52'

San Juan Jabloteh 0—3 Point Fortin Civic

Marcus Joseph 4', 9' (PEN), Jamille Boatswain 55'

North East Stars 2—1 Central FC

Trevin Caesar 4', 18'  ;  Ataulla Guerra 54' (PEN)

Teams
St. Ann’s Rangers—1. Akel Clarke (GK) (C) (Yellow Card), 4. Jelani Peters, 10. Kennedy Isles, 28. Kadeem Corbin (23. Trevin Latapy 80th minute), 16. Keron Alexander, 32. Joshua Sylvester (39. Shaquille Moses 91st minute), 33. Isaiah Mc Intyre, 41. Kevin Carter, 44. Sedale Mc Lean, 49. Chad Clinton, 51. Keron Cornwall

Unused substitutes—14. Michael Yaw Darko, 26. Josh Toussaint, 12. Tevin Gilkes, 22. Christopher Biggette (GK), 31. Jameel Antoine

Coach—Anthony Streete

Caledonia AIA—1. Shemel Louison (GK), 3. Nuru Abdullah (C), 5. Akeem Thomas (4. Raymond Alleyne 25th minute), 9. Keyon Edwards, 6. Marcus Ambrose, 27. Nathan Lewis, 28. Pernell Schultz (22. Jameel Neptune 68th minute), 8. Keron Bethelmy, 13. Julian Wade, 18. Denron Frederick (16. Tyrone Charles 58th minute), 20. Noel Williams

Unused substitutes—19. Nical Stephens, 34. Kevin Graham (GK), 15. Aaron Lester, 24. Conrod Smith

Coach—Jamaal Shabazz

Referee—Dave Daniel

North East Stars—22. Cleon John (GK) (C) (Yellow Card), 5. Aquil Selby, 6. Jeromie Williams (Yellow Card), 7. Elijah Manners, 8. Keron Cummings, 12. Jayson Joseph (18. Kaashif Thomas 90th minute), 19. Glenton Wolfe (Yellow Card), 20. Trevin Caesar (11. Lemuel Lyons 85th minute), 15. Chike Sullivan (23. Kennedy Hinkson 74th minute), 25. Keryn Navarro, 48. Jesus Perez

Unused substitutes—1. Stefan Berkeley (GK), 40. Jomoul Francois, 48. Jesus Perez, 16. Franz Husbands

Coach—Angus Eve

Central FC—21. Jan Michael Williams (GK), 10. Marvin Oliver (C), 45. Ataullah Guerra, 2. Elton John, 3. Keion Goodridge, 7. Jason Marcano, 1. Willis Plaza, 12. Jamal Jack (6. Leston Paul 68th minute), 24. Akeem Benjamin (4. Sean de Silva 46th minute), 27. Samuel Delice (11. Darren Mitchell 46th minute) 50. Yohance Marshall

Unused substitutes—9. Dwight Quintero, 22. Keon Trim, 25. Javon Sample (GK), 17. Rundell Winchester

Coach—Terry Fenwick

Match Referee—Rodphin Harris