Central FC captain Marvin Phillip gave a well-timed reminder of his ability at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva tonight with a penalty save from North East Stars talisman Cornell Glen and another fine block from teenaged substitute Marcus Gomez.
But another uninspiring performance in the business area of the field meant that Central settled for a goalless draw against the Sangre Grande-based team, which played almost the entire second half with ten players. Both teams remain at fourth and fifth place respectively in the eight team table.
Central managed 17 goals from 14 Pro League matches thus far this season. Only bottom placed T&TEC FC has less. North East Stars has just one goal more after the same number of games.
So spectators would not have turned up expecting a goal fest.
Yet, they would be entitled to anticipate better finishing when the chances did come. As usual, Central was more culpable in this regard.
Coach Terry Fenwick made Antigua and Barbuda striker Peter Byers his first target after accepting the post at the “Couva Sharks.” Byers was virtually unstoppable in his lone, prior Pro League season, which came under Fenwick at San Juan Jabloteh.
But, at present, Byers could not hit a piñata the size of a whale.
Twice in the first half, the muscular striker had only Stars goalkeeper Cleon John in his way and the goal beckoning. On both occasions, Byers did not even inconvenience John enough to prompt a save.
He was not the only offender in Central’s black and white stripes as Johan Peltier and Jason Marcano both got into good positions but snatched at their subsequent efforts.
Stars seemed to be chasing the game even before a wild Kareem Moses tackle on Darren Mitchell resulted in the game’s only red card and gave Central a numerical advantage. Yet, with the resourceful Cornell Glen upfront, the North East team arguably presented the greater danger.
It seems safe to assume that neither of Central’s two young central defenders, Omar Charles and Weslie John, had faced an attacker of this calibre before.
When they got close, Glen rolled off them or ghosted behind their backs. When they retreated, he turned with the ball and drove at them. When they tried to rough them up, he lowered his shoulder and batted them away.
Glen has 11 of Stars’ 18 League goals, which is just higher than 60 percent of his team’s items. The sin is that coach Angus Eve has not been able to make better use of him as his wingers have blown hot and cold for much of the season and tidy, promising midfielder Kaashif Thomas is the only other attacking player who delivered with any consistency.
Once more, Glen almost rescued Stars himself with a mazy solo run in the 56th minute.
A tap of the ball from one boot to the next took Glen past Charles as though he was a cone. He tensed as though to shoot and then glided past John with contemptuous ease. The latter defender desperately reached back to grab the ex-2006 World Cup player and referee Rodphin Harris pointed to the penalty spot.
But Phillip, the current Trinidad and Tobago number one, denied Glen with a flying save to his left.
Phillip came up big again in the closing minutes with a fine block from Gomez after the young striker had stripped Charles on the edge of the penalty area.
The Central captain’s two acts of defiance saved a point for the Pro League rookies. It could and should have been even better for the Sharks.
Central (4-1-4-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (captain); 16.Carey Harris, 27.Omar Charles, 3.Keion Goodridge, 19.Adrian Noel (33.Weslie John 5); 10.Marvin Oliver; 32.Jason Marcano, 37.Johan Peltier, 21.Darren Mitchell (28.Hector Sam 53), 9.Anthony Wolfe; 14.Peter Byers (18.Cyrano Glen 74).
Unused substitutes: 13.Shane Mattis, 6.Marc Leslie, 7.Hayden Tinto, 15.Sayid Freitas.
Coach: Terry Fenwick
North East Stars (4-2-3-1): 22.Cleon John (captain); 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 2.Kareem Moses, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 32.Keithy Simpson; 6.Jeromie Williams, 25.Keryn Navarro; 8.Micah Lewis (7.Elijah Manners 46), 18.Kaashif Thomas (17.Jayson Joseph 46), 4.Kerry Baptiste (45.Marcus Gomez 83); 13.Cornell Glen.
Unused substitutes: 1.Adrian Foncette, 9.Akiel Guevara, 12.Gary Glasgow.
Coach: Angus Eve
Referee: Rodphin Harris
Digicel Pro League
(6 March 2013)
North East Stars 0, Central FC 0 at Couva[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]