Central stop Civic to win Akeem Adams Trophy

Central FC star Willis Plaza, third from left, celebrates scoring against Point Fortin Civic during Tuesday’s 1-0 Digicel Pro League win at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin, which also earned the “Couva Sharks” the Akeem Adams (Round Two) Trophy.
Tuesday 24 February 2015

Willis Plaza executed a cool finish, amidst a heated battle, seconds before the half to earn longstanding Digicel Pro League leaders Central FC a slim but valuable 1-0 win over home side Point Fortin Civic on Tuesday at the Mahaica Oval to secure the Akeem Adams (Round Two) Trophy on the penultimate day.

The Zoran Vranes coached-outfit, which already captured this season’s First Citizens Cup and the Rawle Fletcher (Round One) Trophy, tallied an unassailable 18 points in round two after completing their final fixture with three points against Civic—the best team previously with the chance of toppling the “Couva Sharks” for Akeem Adams Trophy, which is named in honour of the fallen former W Connection and Central FC footballer and Point Fortin native.

Vranes was happy to add the Akeem Adams Trophy to Central’s cabinet but says it is still a long tough road to the club’s ambition of winning the DPL championship.

Central FC head coach Zoran Vranes.
“We stepped up with two wins after losses (against Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh 2-1 and 3-2 respectively) were we made mistakes but it’s going to be tough till the end,” Vranes said. “It’s still a long way to go but I think once we don’t make mistakes, we are good enough to win the championship.”

Central stands atop the regular DPL standings with 35 points, five points clear of reigning champions and second placed W Connection (30 points), who were held to a 1-1 draw against eight placed Caledonia AIA in their Round Two Match Day Eight fixture at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday night.

Mekeil Williams gave Connection the lead in the 80th minute beating goalkeeper Shemel Louison from the penalty spot but Caledonia tied the game in stoppage time with a 30-metre Kareem Joseph free-kick that defeated goalkeeper Julani Archibald.

Simultaneously at the Marvin Lee Stadium, North East Stars (26 points) leapfrogged Defence Force for third position after handing cellar placed St. Ann’s Rangers their 14thleague defeat from of the 2014-2015 season with a 2-1 score.

Defender Aquil Selby gave the Stars a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute but the Sangre Grande outfit needed a 75th minute winner from attacker Kennedy Hinkson after Rangers forward Devon Modeste tied the scores before the break with his first goal since returning to his old employers during the January transfer window from Pro League-bound Club Sando.

Defence Force meanwhile, dropped further down the ladder by the end of the second match at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

Defence Force were downed 2-1 by Jabloteh, who moved two spots up the ladder into fourth position and tied on 23 points with the army/coastguard combination, while Civic dropped a spot into sixth with 20 points but ahead of Police (17 points), Caledonia (16 points) and Rangers (1 point).

Jabloteh’s Jamaican forward Newton Sterling scored on either side of the break, in the 22ndand 47th minutes, to pace the San Juan club to a 2-1 win.

Devorn Jorsling had pulled back in the 84thminute but it was only enough to take his league scoring tally this season to 7 goals, tied with teammate Richard Roy, Central’s Marvin Oliver and Willis Plaza, Jabloteh’s Kerry Baptiste and Civic’s Marcus Joseph, but two goals shy of Connection’s Jerrel Britto and one goal behind Caledonia’s Purnell Schultz and Central’s Ataulla Guerra.

Plaza, however, only became active for Central in the January transfer window this season.

The Trinidad and Tobago international dispatched a low strike from inside the box to beat Civic goalie Marvin Phillip in the 45thminute on Tuesday.

Plaza had worked a neat exchange with Jason Marcano inside the box to create the scoring opportunity after the home side failed to quell a subsequent string of passes orchestrated by substitute Ataulla Guerra.

Civic, boasting four straight wins in all competitions before kick-off, had an early chance to take the lead but ace forward Marcus Joseph missed an open net just two minutes into the match. The Leroy De Leon-coached Civic also had a shout for penalty in the 16th minute after a tackle on Andre Toussaint inside the box by defender Jamal Jack, but referee Callum Marshall wasn’t entertained.

Central FC defender Jamal Jack, right, is upended by Point Fortin Civic’s Trent Lougheed’s late tackle during Tuesday’s Digicel Pro League clash at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin. Central won the match 1-0.
Marshall actually had his work cut out in the afternoon heat and standing in the middle of a very physical contest. Marshall dished out only two cautions to either side but many believed the official had been far too lenient.

Plaza’s goal was vital but so were saves by Central goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams. The Trinidad and Tobago international custodian made a low save in the 18th minute to thwart a Weslie John effort from distance and in the 31st minute pulled off a one-handed save to push a Joseph strike wide for a corner.

Williams made another crucial one handed save in the 71st minute, tipping behind a Toussaint free-kick at the last moment.

“We played the big boys and we were right there with them,” said Civic interim head coach Leroy De Leon following the match. “It was good. We actually had a couple chances to take while they had a dinky chance and they scored.”

Goal-scorer Plaza had a stoppage-time opportunity to grab a second after he was picked out by Guerra but made a mess of things, allowing an easy gather by Phillip. Guerra too, had a missed opportunity with nine minutes of regular time left against Civic.

“It was a tough game,” acknowledged Vranes. “They (Civic) are a very good team. It’s not out of nothing that they have won four straight games since coach DeLeon came in. We (Central) were more dangerous and created more chances but it was probably our toughest game in the season so far.”

Point Fortin Civic interim head coach Leroy De Leon.Meanwhile DeLeon, who led Civic to league wins over W Connection (2-1), Rangers (4-1), Defence Force (2-1), and a 4-3 penalty win over Petrotrin Palo Seco in the FA Trophy Round of 32 since taking over as interim head coach following a walkout by coach Reynold Carrington, is confident of returning to winning ways following Tuesday’s defeat.

“We are doing fine,” he said. “We are going to win a lot of games.”

DeLeon, a former Trinidad and Tobago star footballer, said it was simply a matter of adjusting some attitudes since taking over on an interim basis.

“It’s the same squad, nothing strange. It’s the same group of players that I’ve inherited. But it was just a matter of adjusting some attitudes. Every time we go to practice I try to break one bad habit but time is of the essence in the sense that we have very tight schedule with league and FA fixtures and we are not getting to put in some good practice. But I see progress although we are still lacking mental toughness for longer periods. It was the same under the previous coach where the players only showed mental toughness sporadically as we saw against Central playing tough for 20 or 30 minutes and all of a sudden disappear.”

Civic will return to action on Friday 27 February when to travel to the Marvin Lee Stadium against Police FC from 8 pmfollowing a 6 pm kick off between Rangers and Defence Force at the Macoya venue.

Simultaneously at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Caledonia will tackle North East Stars from 6 pm and W Connection against Jabloteh from 8 pm while Central are on the bye.

Digicel Pro League 2014-2015
Round Two Match Day Eight results
Tuesday 24 February 2015
Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin
Point Fortin Civic 0 vs Central FC 1 (Willis Plaza 45’)

Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya
St. Ann's Rangers 1 (Devon Modeste 39’) vs North East Stars 2 (Aquil Selby 19’, Kennedy Hinkson 75’)

Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
Caledonia AIA 1 (Kareem Joseph 90’+) vs W Connection 1 (Mekeil Williams 80’ penalty)
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Newton Sterling 22’, 47’) vs Defence Force 1 (Devorn Jorsling 84’)

Akeem Adams (Round Two) Trophy standings
1. Central (18 points)
2. San Juan Jabloteh (14 points)
3. Point Fortin Civic (12 points)
4. North East Stars (12 points)
5. W Connection (10 points)
6. Defence Force (10 points)
7. Police FC (8 points)
8. Caledonia (6 points)
9. St. Ann’s Rangers (0)

Upcoming matches
Round Two Match Day Nine

Friday 27 February 2015
Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
Caledonia AIA vs North East Stars—6pm
W Connection vs San Juan Jabloteh—8pm

Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya
St. Ann's Rangers vs Defence Force—6pm
Police FC vs Point Fortin Civic—8pm

Central FC (bye)

Tuesday’s teams at Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin
Point Fortin Civic: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 5.Andre Ettienne (C), 4.Weslie John, 6.Akeem Redhead, 8.Nickcolson Thomas, 11.Andre Toussaint, 10.Marcus Joseph (20.Jamille Boatswain 59th minute), 99.Shackiel Henry (9.Matthew Bartholomew 71st minute), 19.Andrei Pacheco, 15.Rondell Paul (Yellow Card), 18.Trent Lougheed (Yellow Card)

Unused substitutes: 52.Akini Adams (GK), 7.Kelvin Modeste, 25.Andre Matthew, 23.Kelvin Modeste, 27.Bevon Bass

Coach: Leroy DeLeon

Central FC: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 11.Darren Mitchell (3.Keon Goodridge 87th minute), 12.Jamal Jack, 7.Jason Marcano (6.Leston Paul 64th minute), 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 33.Willis Plaza, 4.Uriah Bentick, 2.Elton John, 17.Marcelle Francois (Yellow Card), 99.Dwight Quintero (45.Ataulla Guerra 39th minute), 10.Marvin Oliver (Yellow Card)

Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 29.Upston Edwards, 14.Jean-Luc Rochford, 19.Nathaniel Garcia

Coach: Zoran Vranes

Referee: Callum Marshall