N/E Stars hunt win against wounded Central on Digicel Pro League resumption

Central FC defender Jamal Jack, pictured in this April 14, 2014 file photo, doing the necessary to get away from a sliding tackle by North East Stars defender Glenton Wolfe during a Digicel Pro League match.
Thursday 19 February 2015

Carnival may be winding down for many but for four teams at the top of the Digicel Pro League 2014-2015 standings, the challenge is very much heating up.

And for North East Stars head coach Angus Eve, a win for the former Pro League champions against leaders Central FC on Friday will definitely add to the excitement and his team’s championship chances when the DPL resumes following the brief Carnival break.

Central FC – despite back-to-back league defeats – leads the DPL standings with 29 points, but only three points ahead of defending champions DIRECTV W Connection (26 points). While North East Stars, winners in 2004, and Defence Force, DPL winners in 2010-2011 and 2012-2013, occupy third and fourth places respectively, tied on 23 points, and just as Connection, have played one less match than Central.

Central – winners of this season’s First Citizens Cup and the Rawle Fletcher (Round One) Trophy – and North East Stars will meet at the Marvin Lee Stadium on Friday 20 February from 8 pm in Round Two Match Day Seven, following a 6 pm clash between fifth placed Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh (19 points) and eight placed Caledonia AIA (14 points) at the Macoya venue.

The round kicks off earlier on Friday with sixth placed Point Fortin Civic (17 points) – coming off back-to-back home wins – to host Defence Force from 4 pm at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin, and seventh placed Police (17 points) against W Connection from 6 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, while cellar placed St. Ann’s Rangers sits out on the bye.

“[The situation with four teams bunched at the top] augurs well for the League,” said Eve. “It shows that no one team can run away with the title although some teams are stronger financially. It shows the strength of the league with other teams having a fighting chance.

“We are not in the financial position of some clubs. At present Central are the best team in the league financially and based on their squad on paper. But we are a fighting bunch and once we get a victory on Friday it will put us in a good chance in the race for the championship.

“Our budget is on par with Caledonia and nowhere near teams like Central. So to be in the position that we are in and fighting in the top half says a lot. We are also one of only a couple teams, by choice, with only local players. Defence Force and Police FC are also with only local players but that’s not by choice.

“This season we reached a Final and are in a good position in the league championship. It may be too early to be proud because there are a lot more games to go, but what we have done so far based on the budget is tremendous,” concluded the North East Stars head coach and former Trinidad and Tobago international.

Last October, Central plucked a 1-0 win over the Stars in the Final of the 2014 First Citizens Cup courtesy a 65th minute goal by midfielder Leston Paul.

But when both teams met in Round One of the DPL in December, the “Couva Sharks” needed a 90th minute Ataulla Guerra equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw after the Stars had taken a first half lead through Tyrone Charles.
 Ataulla Guerra, pictured in this October 24, 2014 file photo, tries to beat Police FC goalkeeper Adrian Foncette during the First Citizens Cup semifinal round.
Charles now plays for Jabloteh, the club he joined in the January transfer window, while midfielder Guerra is one of two suspended players Central FC head coach Zoran Vranes must do without for Friday’s clash.

Guerra – who already served an automatic suspension for a red card he picked up for an elbowing incident against Defence Force defensive midfielder Dave Long on February 3 in a 2-1 loss – must serve an additional suspension handed down by the League’s Disciplinary Committee after meeting with the player and reviewing video evidence.

Teammate Rundell Winchester must also miss two matches. The 21-year-old Tobagonian is on an automatic suspension, which he will serve on Friday, for a red card he received on February 6, for abusive language to the match referee in a 3-2 loss against Jabloteh, and will serve an additional suspension handed down by the League’s Disciplinary Committee.

Meanwhile two-time The Fan Club Coach of the Month this season, Vranes, must look for the right mix of players as he tries to rebound from back-to-back and also to maintain lead of the separate standings for the Akeem Adams (Round Two) Trophy.

At present Central leads the Akeem Adams (Round Two) Trophy table with 12 points, ahead of, in descending order, Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh, Defence Force (10 points), North East Stars, Point Fortin Civic, W Connection (9 points), Police FC (8 points), Caledonia AIA (3 points) and St. Ann’s Rangers (0).

Points are calculated during each round, but not affecting the regular overall league table, to determine the winner. The Akeem Adams Trophy has been introduced this season along with the Rawle Fletcher (Round One) and Kevon Carter (Round Three) Trophies in memory of the fallen players, which the titles are named after, and also in an attempt by the League to increase the level of competitiveness during the lengthy DPL season.

Digicel Pro League 2014-2015

Round Two Match Day Seven
Friday 20 February 2015

Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin

Point Fortin Civic vs Defence Force—4 pm

Ato Boldon Stadium

Police FC vs W Connection—6 pm


Marvin Lee Stadium

San Juan Jabloteh vs Caledonia AIA—6 pm
North East Stars vs Central FC—8 pm

St. Ann's Rangers (bye)

Round Two Match Day Eight

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin

Point Fortin Civic vs Central FC—4 pm

Marvin Lee Stadium

St. Ann's Rangers vs North East Stars—6 pm

Ato Boldon Stadium

Caledonia AIA vs W Connection—6 pm
San Juan Jabloteh vs Defence Force—8 pm


Police FC (bye)

Round Two Match Day Nine
Friday 27 February 2015

Ato Boldon Stadium

Caledonia AIA vs North East Stars—6 pm
W Connection vs San Juan Jabloteh—8 pm

Marvin Lee Stadium

St. Ann’s Rangers vs Defence Force—6 pm
Police FC vs Point Fortin Civic—8 pm

Central FC (bye)