Talk nah, Central!
The buzz around Central FC over the past 48 hours has been the shock promotion of its marketing director, Brent Sancho, to the position of Sport Minister. Last night presented the opportunity for the “Couva Sharks” to resume normal service.
But veteran Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling had other ideas has his late winner confounded, albeit temporarily, Central’s three-member cheering section as the Army/Coast Guard combination snatched a 1-0 triumph at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Central, who played with 10-men for much of the second half after the dismissal of “Soca Warrior” Ataulla Guerra, remain comfortably ahead of the Pro League pack. But a win last night would have provided a nine-point lead and security against a schedule that always borders on the ridiculous when the TTFA FA Cup and Caribbean Club Championship get underway.
Second place DIRECTV W Connection, who have a game in hand over Central, would be relieved by Jorsling’s strike although coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier might still be wondering what happened at Mahaica Oval yesterday.
Connection whipped Point Fortin Civic 3-0 in their last league meeting on 25 November 2014 and, yesterday, might have felt they were meeting the same club in disarray. Only six players turned up to Civic’s training session on Saturday and 10 on the previous day.
And coach Reynold Carrington cited demotivated players among other issues when he quit on the weekend without, apparently, a word to the club’s directors.
Perhaps, in a contrary way, yesterday’s result proved him right. Civic, led by former Trinidad and Tobago great and another Point Fortin son of the soil Leroy De Leon, reportedly put in a battling performance to edge Connection 2-1.
Jamille Boatswain came off the bench to score Civic’s winner after teammate Andre Toussaint and Connection’s Jerrel Britto had traded first half items.
Notably, De Leon’s first major move as interim head coach was to start Akini Adams in goal ahead of national custodian Marvin Phillip. So far so good for the Civic revival, although time will tell if the result was merely an emotional response to the weekend’s events or a genuine turn in the tide.
De Leon only had one training session with the now sixth-place team after all.
There was an eye raising result in Macoya too where North East Stars whipped Police FC 3-1. In this case, it was more the margin of victory than the win itself.
North East, who are now third, had not scored three goals in a League match since a similar 3-1 win over Civic on 4 October 2014 and had amassed 11 goals from 12 outings before yesterday’s affair. But goals from Keron Cummings and the defensive duo of Keryn Navarro and Dwain James ensured a comfortable triumph over the “Lawmen” who got a stoppage time goal from veteran Todd Ryan.
At yesterday’s Couva double header, Caledonia AIA and St Ann’s Rangers were first on to the field for a predictable affair.
The Rangers’ squad, young, naive and as blunt as a butter-knife, gave it a go but rarely looked like overpowering a Caledonia team that was just one foot of the bottom of the table at kick off.
The fact that Rangers coach Dean Pacheco’s squad has four present and past national youth players, Kadeem Corbin, Kevon Goddard, Nicholas Dillon and Ryan O’Neil, St Kitts and Nevis international Kennedy Isles and experienced campaigners in Club Sando attacker Devon Modeste and former Guyana international captain Charles Pollard—Goddard, Dillon and Modeste are there on loan—suggests the club’s issues cannot be camouflaged with the odd signing.
Rangers, who have one point from 13 League outings, were just the tonic that Caledonia needed though.
Isles opened the scoring in the 19th minute. But there was little chance that the score summary would end there as goals from Nathan Lewis, Pernell Schultz, Domini Garnett and ex-Rangers player Conrad Smith helped Caledonia snap a five-game losing streak that begun on January 11.
Smith’s goal, after a slick exchange with Schultz on the counter, was the pick of the lot. While Schultz, who follows a long line of Guyanese imports at the “Eastern Stallions”, deserves special mention for somehow managing to be joint top of the scoring charts with eight goals despite Caledonia’s struggles.
In the feature contest, Central, who have assembled a team of considerable strength and depth, were strong favourites despite facing three-time champions, Defence Force.
The Sharks are favourites for their maiden domestic League title this season. Presumably, Sancho will have to distance himself from the day-to-day running of the club in an effort to give a semblance of impartiality in his new post as Sport Minister. He did not take his customary place in the stands last night, for instance.
But Sancho’s emotional and long-term financial ties surely remain with Central—unless, of course, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar somehow manages to win re-election. And he might have tossed in bed last night when his (former?) employees relayed news of yesterday’s contest.
Central and Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams might have put his club in trouble after just 32 minutes as he handled outside his penalty area in a sly effort to thwart Defence Force striker Richard Roy.
Inexplicably, referee Dave Daniel signalled the foul but did not show yellow or red card.
But Guerra’s infringement was neither cleverly disguised nor benign where the welfare of his opponent was concerned.
Guerra has made 32 full international caps for Trinidad and Tobago and represented his country in two Caribbean Cup tournaments. Yet, at domestic level, his penchant for being generous with his elbows when pressured is no secret.
Early in the second half, promising young Defence Force midfielder Dave Long outfoxed Guerra with a smooth pivot at centre field that brought “ooohs” from the audience. And, at their next meeting in the 56th minute, Long harassed Guerra for possession and got an elbow to his chops in response.
Guerra, who is also atop the scoring charts with eight goals, will now miss Central’s upcoming clash with San Juan Jabloteh and, possibly, their next fixture against North East Stars as well.
Central coach Zoran Vranes and Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart will both hope to address Guerra’s impulsive reactions soon as there will be much more bothersome opponents than Long in the talented playmaker’s immediate future.
The Sharks’ three-man choir responded to the incident with a chant of: “You don’t know what you’re doing” at the referee.
It was tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted stuff really. Central’s operations director Kevin Harrison is British and, suspiciously, the three club supporters that sang throughout the contest only offered a stream of ditties straight from the terraces of the British game.
There was no: “Central, we want a goal” or “Central playing football and Army playing netball…”
But there were loads of British chants like: “she fell over” and “he scores when he likes” that were repeated ad nausem for the duration of the contest.
It was, at best, an acquired taste. And Jorsling did not seem to be a fan.
Before Guerra’s expulsion, Central came closest to the opening goal when Jamal Jack almost uprooted the upright from inside the opposing penalty area while the wily pair of Sean De Silva and Jason Marcano threatened constantly.
And, even with 10 players, Central remained marginally the more productive team and, at least, expected to hold on to the point.
But Jorsling, who went on as a substitute in the 86th minute, had other ideas.
In stoppage time, Army right back Marvin Jones whipped in a low cross from deep down the flank that Uriah Bentick and Jack both failed to cut out. And Jorsling was on spot to divert past the Central custodian from close range for the winner.
Jorsling dragged himself free of his ecstatic teammates and coaches and sprinted into the covered stands to cup his ears at the Central choir.
They responded, cheekily, with: “we are top of the league, we are top of the league…”
True. But there is no certainty that they will stay there unless Guerra learns to control his elbows.
Defence Force (4-5-1): 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK); 13.Marvin Jones, 22.Jamali Garcia, 2.Glynn Franklyn, 17.Ross Russell Jr (12.Jemel Sebro 68); 11.Akeem Roach (10.Josimar Belgrave 59), 4.Dave Long, 8.Curtis Gonzales, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (captain), 90.Jelani Felix; 26.Richard Roy.
Unused substitutes: 28.Andre Marchan (GK), 3.Keston Williams, 9.Devorn Jorsling, 18.Sean Narcis, 19.Dexter Pacheco.
Coach: Marvin Gordon.
Central FC (5-3-2): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 12.Jamal Jack, 10.Marvin Oliver, 5.Akeem Benjamin, 4.Uriah Bentick (99.Dwight Quintero 90); 7.Jason Marcano (77.Rundell Winchester 78), 2.Elton John, 8.Sean De Silva (captain); 45.Ataulla Guerra [Red Card 56], 33.Willis Plaza.
Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 11.Darren Mitchell, 14.Jean-Luc Rochford, 24.Kevon Villaroel, 29.Upston Edwards.
Coach: Zoran Vranes.
Referee: Dave Daniel
Pro League results
(Tue Feb 3)
Point Fortin Civic 2 (Andre Toussaint 2, Jamille Boatswain 74), W Connection 1 (Jerrel Britto 42) at Mahaica Oval;
Caledonia AIA 4 (Nathan Lewis 29, Pernell Schultz 34, Domini Garnett 55, Conrad Smith 83), St Ann’s Rangers 1 (Kennedy Isles 19) at Couva;
North East Stars 3 (Keron Cummings 46, Keryn Navarro 76, Dwain James 86), Police FC 1 (Todd Ryan 90) at Macoya;