Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA maintained its Digicel Pro League hot streak tonight and simultaneously kept leaders Defence Force within striking distance as the “Eastern Stallions” edged North East Stars 1-0 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
It was a fifth successive Pro League win for Caledonia while the Morvant/Laventille-based club also avenged an opening round loss to the Stars. But it was a cagey affair with Caledonia unable to produce its usual fluency in possession while Stars’ more direct style rarely threatened the opposing goal.
Stars striker Cornell Glen came off the substitutes’ bench for the final 25 minutes tonight and probably came closest to an equaliser as he dribbled around Caledonia defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr and Nuru Muhammad before goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel successfully grabbed the ball off his feet.
There were the occasional ambitious penalty shouts too from either side. But the final scoreline seemed fair.
Trevin Caesar, who played under Stars coach Angus Eve at national under-23 level last year, seemed to be on a mission tonight. It was a rare start for the pacey Caesar, with Conrod Smith abroad and Jamal Gay on the bench, and there was little doubt that the striker was going to leave his mark on the contest.
The only question was whether Caesar’s contribution would be majestic or catastrophic.
Caesar pestered Stars defenders incessantly and lunged in to tackles all over the pitch. It was a minor miracle that it took referee Ruthven Harris until the second half to book the striker for a late tackle on opposing right back Kennedy Hinkson.
But, by then, he had already hit an upright and scored the opening goal with a fine finish on the break.
Caledonia was never likely to match Defence Force’s emphatic 8-0 demolition job against St Ann’s Rangers last night. But tonight’s result might have reassured its supporters for a different reason.
The Stallions are expected to lose the services of several players to trials soon. Not a bad time then for Caesar to give a reminder of his ability while midfielder Akim Armstrong came on in the second half, after almost two years out due to a knee injury, and maverick playmaker Sherron Joseph also made a late appearance.
Abu Bakr, who only rejoined Caledonia in this transfer window, gave a decent showing too in central defence.
Coach Jerry Moe will probably sleep comfortably tonight.
Caesar was the difference against Stars, though.
In the 36th minute, he served Stars notice of his threat as he spun past Elton John and slammed an effort against the near post from a sharp angle down Caledonia’s left flank. Eve’s men failed to heed the warning and, three minutes later, he made them pay.
This time, Caesar dribbled around national defender Kareem Moses and simply glided past John before finishing below the body of Stars captain and goalkeeper Cleon John.
Defence Force remains three points clear at the top and has the League’s best goal differential but the Caledonia team, which has a game in hand, is breathing down the neck of the soldiers.
The rest of the Pro League is struggling to keep up with either outfit.
Caledonia AIA (4-2-3-1): 33.Glenroy Samuel; 12.Kareem Joseph, 29.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 3.Nuru Muhammad (captain), 2.Aubrey David; 21.Densill Theobald, 9.Keyon Edwards; 8.Cornelius Stewart (17.Akim Armstrong 64), 25.Ataullah Guerra (18.Sherron Joseph 87), 15.Walter Moore; 6.Trevin Caesar (23.Jamal Gay 73).
Unused substitutes: 1.Shemel Louison, 11.Abdallah Phillips, 13.Trayon Bobb, 16.Odelle Armstrong.
Coach: Jerry Moe
North East Stars (4-1-4-1): 22.Cleon John (captain); 11.Elton John, 2.Kareem Moses, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 5.Kevon Villaroel; 25.Keryn Navarro; 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 17.Jayson Joseph (8.Micah Lewis 70), 18.Kaashif Thomas (13.Cornell Glen 65), 4.Kerry Baptiste (9.Akiel Guevara 46); 7.Elijah Manners.
Unused substitutes: 1.Adrian Foncette, 3.Charles Pollard, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 37.Neil Mitchell.
Coach: Angus Eve
Referee: Rodphin Harris
Digicel Pro League
(5 January 2013)
W Connection 3 (Shahdon Winchester 32, 34, 90+), Central FC 0 at Ato Boldon
Caledonia AIA 1 (Trevin Caesar 39), North East Stars 0 at Ato Boldon[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]