Central stretches DPL lead to six points

Plaza goal keeps Central ahead of Connection; N/E Stars occupy third

Central FC forward Willis Plaza scored his third goal in as many matches since returning to competitive action this month.
Friday 23 January 2015

Willis Plaza scored on Friday night, notching his third goal in as many matches, to earn leaders Central FC a marginal but valuable 1-0 derby win over rivals and reigning champions DIRECTV W Connection at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Round Two Match Day Two of the 2014-2015 Digicel Pro League.

Plaza, an overlooked Trinidad and Tobago international, swooped in on a spill by goalkeeper Julani Archibald, following a right side attempt by Jason Marcano, to lift the ball into the Connection net for a 1-0 lead in the 41st minute.

The result improved Central’s (7-2-1, 23 points) position at the top of the standings, to an improved six points clear of second positioned Connection (6-2-1, 17 points).

“I did expect a very tough game,” said Central FC coach Zoran Vranes following the match. “I think the game was very close. But I think we deserved the win. We have an advantage now. We have a nice advantage but of course it’s not over yet. It’s far from over.”

North East Stars (5-2-3, 17 points) were also in winners’ row, edging Point Fortin Civic 1-0 in the first clash of the Couva double header to move up one spot into third on the table and tying on points with Connection, who remained ahead by a far greater goal difference.

“It’s good to be in the position that we are in and competing,” North East Stars head coach said after the match. “Our budget isn’t as big as the teams just around us but we have still been able to put together a decent squad and worked incredibly well to try and get some results. Hopefully we can finish as high as we can and probably get one of the Cups this season.”

The Angus Eve-coached Sangre Grande outfit got their lone item in the 47th minute when a right side cross by Jamaican Keithy Simpson took a deflection off a retreating defender to hit the inside of the upright before entering goalkeeper Marvin Phillip's net.

North East Stars – who had a few first half chances to take the lead – failed to double the advantage on the 65th minute from the penalty spot.

Lone Stars’ forward Jomoul Francois, who missed an excellent one-on-one opportunity in the 3rd minute of play, was bulldozed to ground by Glen Sutton after making a sweeping run inside the Civic area.

Referee Rodphin Harris was forced to point to the spot, but short of penalty kickers, defender Aquil Selby stepped up to the challenge, only to see his poorly struck penalty kick comfortably gathered by Phillip.

Eve, who praised the performance of his team in the end while singling out forward Jomoul Francois and goalkeeper Cleon John, added, “We said coming into this stage of the season we are not focusing on goals because we are a team that don’t score much goals. But defensively we are always solid like we saw tonight. They (Civic) didn’t really have any chances that really threatened us. We created more and should have scored more. In the case of the penalty, our two best penalty takers, Kennedy Hinkson and Keron Cummings, were on the bench at the time so Selby stepped up and we gave him credit for taking the responsibility.”

Civic pushed desperately for the equaliser with second half tries by Andre Toussaint, Marcus Joseph on two separate occasions, Steven Joseph and Matthew Bartholomew, but they were all denied by goalkeeper Cleon John, who preserved his side's one goal advantage.

Similarly, Connection in the second match failed to find the equaliser despite having a number of opportunities in a keenly contested Couva derby.

Central had the first two near misses with midfielder Sean de Silva, donning the armband, hitting just wide from the top of the area in the 3rd minute and Plaza heading over in the 15th minute off a Marcano cross.

But it was Connection that got closest in a space of two minutes just over the 20-minute mark when Hashim Arcia troubled goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams from distance and winning a corner in the process.

Then from the resulting corner it was danger again for Central, who were lucky to see Kaydion Gabriel clear of the line twice in quick succession to deny Connection defender Leslie Joel Russell.

On the other end Marcano sent an effort just wide of the far post in the 26th minute and Plaza’s 35th minute attempt was thwarted by Archibald, before Plaza’s winner arrived four minutes from the break.

“We expected that,” said Vranes on Plaza’s scoring streak of three goals in as many matches. “…but he is supposed to push himself a little more. He is not in full fitness. But of course three goals in three games is helping us a lot. If we had him from the beginning (of the season) the story would be a lot better right now.”

Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier responded with a double substitution following the break with Columbians Stiven Lopez Concha and Christian Rodriquez making their debuts as replacements for Devaughn Elliot and Russell respectively. And by midway through the half St. Lucian forward Shirvone St. Prix was another debutant when he replaced Jomol Williams.

But prior to Williams’ exit, Connection’s Jerrel Britto had two of the “Savonnetta Boys” best scoring opportunities.

Ten minutes into the half Britto failed to make contact to Williams’ cross from the left with the back post exposed, and in the 73rd minute the Connection forward blasted over bar on an even better opening.

Triston Hodge was a couple inches shy of winning his side the equaliser in the 63rd minute when his left footed crack from the left crashed off the base of Jan-Michael Williams’ near upright and flew across the area before it was cleared to safety.

Even a well struck Alvin Jones’ free kick in the 77th minute couldn’t rescue a point for Connection as it flew inches wide of the target.

Round Two Match Day Two will resume on Sunday 25 January at the Ato Boldon Stadium with cellar-placed St. Ann’s Rangers (0-1-8, 1 point) against seventh-placed Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh (2-4-3, 10 points) from 4 pm and eight-placed Police FC (2-4-3, 10 points) against fourth-placed Defence Force (5-1-3, 16 points) from 6 pm.

Digicel Pro League 2014-2015
Round Two Match Day Two
Friday results at the Ato Boldon Stadium
North East Stars 1 (own goal 47') vs Point Fortin Civic 0
W Connection 0 vs Central FC 1 (Willis Plaza 41')

Sunday 25 January 2015
Ato Boldon Stadium
St. Ann’s Rangers vs San Juan Jabloteh—4 pm
Police FC vs Defence Force—6 pm

Caledonia AIA (bye)

Friday's Teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium
North East Stars: 4.Keithy Simpson, 5.Aquil Selby, 6.Jeromie Williams (Yellow Card), 8.Adrian Noel (23.Kennedy Hinkson 69th minute), 12.Jason Joseph, 15.Glenton Wolfe, 18.Kaashif Thomas (10.Keron Cummings 69th minute), 22.Cleon John (GK) (C), 25.Keryn Navarro, 40.Jomoul Francois (3.Kareen Richardson 84th minute), 44.Keon Joseph

Unused substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 7.Russell Alfred, 36.Anthony Diaz, 42.Taryk Sampson

Coach: Angus Eve

Point Fortin Civic: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 2.Garyl Doldron, 12.Glenn Sutton (Yellow Card) (20.Jamille Boatswain 70th minute), 5.Andre Ettienne (C), 13.Tevin Balfor (9.Matthew Bartholomew 56th minute), 6.Akeem Redhead (19.Andrei Pacheco 63rd minute), 8.Nickcolson Thomas, 11.Andre Toussaint, 3.Steven Joseph, 10.Marcus Joseph, 99.Shackiel Henry

Unused substitutes: 52.Akini Adams (GK), 18.Trent Lougheed, 15.Rondell Paul, 17.Keswin Goolie

Coach: Reynold Carrington

W Connection: 3.Gerard Williams, 5.Mekeil Williams (C), 11.Tremain Shayn Paul (Yellow Card), 12.Jerrel Britto, 13.Devaughn Elliot (48.Stiven Lopez Concha 46th minute), 14.Hashim Arcia, 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 19.Leslie Joel Russell (20.Christian Rodriquez 46th minute), 36.Triston Hodge, 39.Alvin Jones, 40.Jomol Williams (43.Shirvone St.  Prix 76th minute)

Unused substitutes: 2.Kurt Frederick, 16.Anselm Jackson, 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 30.Aaquil Campbell

Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier

Central FC: 5.Akeem Benjamin (Yellow Card), 45.Ataulla Guerra (77.Rundell Winchester 70th minute), 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 12.Jamal Jack, 7.Jason Marcano (11.Darren Mitchell 87th minute), 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 10.Marvin Oliver (24.Kevon Villaroel 75th minute), 8.Sean de Silva (C), 33.Willis Plaza, 4.Uriah Bentick, 2.Elton John

Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 99.Dwight Quintero, 17.Marcelle Francois, 19.Nathaniel Garcia

Coach: Zoran Vranes