Central take Pro League lead after D/Force’s Valentine’s Day slip

Jean-Luc Rochford pictured in this file photo celebrating after scoring a scorcher for San Juan Jabloteh against Police FC. Rochford announced his return to North East Stars from Central FC with an incredible goal on Sunday.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Jean-Luc Rochford announced his return to North East Stars with a Valentine’s Day corner-kick goal against Defence Force before both sides walked away with a point in Sunday’s 1-1 draw.

The failure to bag full points saw Defence Force (33 points) slip off the top and into second, just one point ahead of W Connection, after defending champions and the former side of Rochford, Central FC (34 points), leapfrogged both teams to move to the summit.

Central, also in action on Sunday, edged Morvant Caledonia United 2-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium as interim head coach Dale Saunders stretched his unbeaten run to eight games since taking over from sacked coach Ross Russell in mid-December.

Marcus Joseph fired the Couva Sharks ahead on 18 minutes before defender Ranaldo Bailey put Caledonia level in the 45th minute.

But a late winner –with two minutes of regular-time left – by midfielder Jason Marcano ensured Central continued their upward thrust with a third straight win while benefitting from Defence Force’s earlier draw at the Larry Gomes Stadium.

Rochford, a former Trinidad and Tobago FIFA Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup player, with the knack for special goals, which includes T&T’s first ever U-20 World Cup goal in 2009, found the back of the Defence Force net with his direct kick from the corner to put North East Stars ahead on 33 minutes.

Rochford’s corner kick entered the top near corner following a bit of indecisiveness between goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke and his defensive guard at the goal-line.

Rochford, who also had previous stints at San Juan Jabloteh, Caledonia and North East Stars, re-joined the Sangre Grande club as part of coach Ross Russell’s January/February transfer window signings that includes 34-year-old former Scotland-based attacker and T&T 2006 World Cup player, Collin Samuel, returning Stars midfielder Kion Joseph, Kerry Daniel and Anthony Guppy.

Rochford, who had memorable goals at previous clubs including Caledonia’s first-ever Caribbean Club Championship goal, was denied a second item on Sunday when his free-kick from 24-yards out cannoned off the base of the upright.

However Rochford, who was later replaced in the 75th minute by Taryk Sampson, turned hero-to-villain when his foul on the Defence Force substitute Kerry Joseph led to the Army/Coast Guard combination’s equalising-goal in the 66th minute.

Joseph, known for his pin-point crossing, whipped his free-kick towards the back post to find a waving Jamali Garcia, who headed the ball back across goalkeeper Cleon John’s six-yard area allowing Aklie Edwards to head home at the goalmouth.

North East Stars, winless in their last five games, continues to occupy sixth-place and tied on 23 points with fifth-placed San Juan Jabloteh.

Police FC, 5-0 winners over Club Sando on Friday, are fourth with 24 points, while, in descending order, Sando (17 points), Point Fortin Civic, Caledonia (13 points) and St. Ann’s Rangers (10 points) occupy the bottom end of the standings.

Rangers, already achieving twice the tally they achieved in last season’s bottom-of-the-table finish, held 10-man home side Point Fortin Civic to a late 1-1 draw on Saturday at Mahaica Oval.

Glenn Sutton put Civic ahead on 88 minutes after teammate Shaquille Stewart was sent off in the 74th minute on a second yellow card.

However winger Kevon Piper made certain Rangers didn’t leave Point Fortin empty handed after tying the game in the fourth minute of stoppage-time, denying Civic a win in their last nine games.

Up next for Civic, is a trip north to face Caledonia on Tuesday from 8 pm at the Marvin Lee Stadium, following a 6 pm top-of-the-table kick-off between Defence Force and W Connection.

Simultaneously at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday, Police will welcome Rangers from 6 pm, before Central and North East Stars lock horns in coach Russell’s first match against his former employers.

The action continues on Wednesday with a lone fixture at the Larry Gomes Stadium between Jabloteh and Sando from 3:30 pm.

Digicel Pro League 2015/16
Full Round Two Match Day Seven results
Friday 12 February 2016
Police FC 5
 (Kadeem Riley 15’, Kareem Freitas 26’, Makesi Lewis 41’ penalty, Todd Ryan 87’, 90’) vs Club Sando 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium;

San Juan Jabloteh 1 
(Fabian Reid 24’) vs W Connection 2 (Jomal Williams 16’, Andre Toussaint 66’), at Ato Boldon Stadium;

Saturday 13 February 2016
Point Fortin Civic 1 
(Glenn Sutton 88’) vs St. Ann’s Rangers 1 (Kevon Piper 90’+4), at Mahaica Oval;

Sunday 14 February 2016
North East Stars 1
 (Jean-Luc Rochford 33’) vs Defence Force 1 (Aklie Edwards 66’), at Larry Gomes Stadium;

Central FC 2 (Marcus Joseph 18’, Jason Marcano 88’) vs Morvant Caledonia United 1 (Ranaldo Bailey 45’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Upcoming fixtures
Round Two Match Day Eight
Tuesday 16 February 2016
Marvin Lee Stadium

Defence Force vs W Connection—6 pm
Morvant Caledonia United vs Point Fortin Civic—8 pm

Ato Boldon Stadium
Police FC vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6 pm
Central FC vs North East Stars—8 pm

Wednesday 17 February 2016
Larry Gomes Stadium

San Juan Jabloteh vs Club Sando—3:30 pm

Teams at the Larry Gomes Stadium on Sunday
North East Stars
: 22.Cleon John (GK), 3.Kion Joseph, 4.Jesus Perez, 6.Jean-Luc Rochford (39.Taryk Sampson 75th minute), 7.Kerry Daniel (27.Quincy Charles 68th minute), 8.Anthony Guppy, 9.Gorean Highley, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 21.Neil Mitchell, 25.Keryn Navarro (Capt.), 28.Collin Samuel (23.Brendon Figuera 60th minute)

Unused substitutes: 1.Shane Mattis (GK), 2.Reon Moore, 24.Adrian Noel, 29.Hakim Baird 

Coach: Ross Russell

Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 3.Jamali Garcia, 6.Rodell Elcock, 7.Jelani Felix (17.Ross Russell Jr. 59th minute), 18.Sean Narcis, 10.Hashim Arcia, 12.Jemel Sebro (30.Kerry Joseph 64th minute), 21.Aklie Edwards, 22.Akeem Roach (26.Richard Roy 60th minute), 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.)

Unused substitutes: 9.Devorn Jorsling, 16.Kellon Serette, 27.Levi Serries, 80.Andre Marchan (GK)

Coach: Marvin Gordon

Match Referee: Gordon Maloney