North East Stars striker Cornell Glen struck his eighth goal from his last seven Digicel Pro League matches last night as the third-placed Sangre Grande-based team edged present leader Defence Force 1-0 at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.
There were no changes in the Pro League standings yesterday but second-placed Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA did take advantage of Defence Force’s slip to pull itself closer to the summit.
A late Nathan Lewis item helped Caledonia see off defending champion DIRECTV W Connection at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. The Caledonia club, which has never won the Pro League, is now four points behind the Army/Coast Guard combination but with the benefit of a game in hand.
In other Pro League news yesterday, fifth-placed Central FC finally showed some offensive bite with a 4-2 triumph over sixth-placed Police FC while bottom placed T&TEC FC beat second-from-bottom St Ann’s Rangers 2-0.
Antiguan centre forward Peter Byers brought his scoring boots to Macoya as he grabbed two items in the first half after incisive passes from Jason Marcano and Johan Peltier respectively.
Former Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup squad member Anthony Wolfe opened the scoring for Central with an opportunistic finish from a Carey Harris clearance while Marvin Oliver scored from the penalty spot after a foul on Darren Mitchell.
Police scored in either half as Jameel Perry converted an Anton Hutchinson cross while skipper Todd Ryan banged in a clinical penalty kick following a clumsy Omar Charles challenge on Hutchinson.
Once more, though, it was Glen who stole the show.
Defence Force has dropped four points from its last four outings and the men in yellow made a flat start to yesterday’s contest too. Coach Ross Russell’s troops might have been three goals behind by the interval as Keithy Simpson and Glen both went close. Yet, the lone item came from a woeful goalkeeping error.
Defence Force custodian Sheldon Clarke, who was deputising for regular number one Kevin Graham, put on a bizarre and unsuccessful juggling act from a Jayson Joseph cross. And, as Clarke spilled, Glen lunged in decisively to steer the ball into an unprotected net.
Clarke partially atoned with flying first half saves from Glen and Simpson and a second half block from Kerry Baptiste while the Army/Coast Guard combination finally moved into gear for the final 45 minutes.
But the Stars team was resolute with captain and custodian Cleon John and defender Elton John in especially good form.
John made fine saves to deny Jerwyn Balthazar and Ross Russell Jr while Cory Rivers struck the bar and soldier Richard Roy fluffed a golden opportunity from inside the six yard box. Roy has scored just once in 2013 and not since he returned from European trials in February.
Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling leads all Pro League scorers this season with 15 items—three more than Glen. But he is entitled to the occasional off-day and there was no one within the ranks to take up the slack.
Next week, Caledonia plays North East Stars on Wednesday and then Defence Force on Friday. If the “Eastern Stallions” win both games, they will move two clear of the Army.
Coach Russ Russell and his men must prove their title credentials now.
North East Stars (4-2-3-1): 22.Cleon John (captain); 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 11.Elton John, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 5.Kevon Villaroel; 25.Keryn Navarro, 17.Jayson Joseph (18.Kaashif Thomas 77); 45.Marcus Gomez (4.Kerry Baptiste 68), 32.Keithy Simpson, 7.Elijah Manners; 13.Cornell Glen (41.Neveal Hackshaw 89).
Unused substitutes: 1.Adrian Foncette, 9.Akiel Guevara, 12.Gary Glasgow, 16.Jean-Luc Rochford.
Coach: Angus Eve
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 25.Sheldon Clarke; 14.Cory Rivers (captain), 5.Devin Jordan (2.Glynn Franklyn 58), 20.Rodell Elcock, 8.Curtis Gonzales; 3.Keston Williams, 18.Sean Narcis (9.Richard Roy 58); 29.Jemel Sebro (17.Ross Russell Jr 73), 15.Jerwyn Balthazar, 11.Kevon Carter; 9.Devorn Jorsling.
Unused substitutes: 1.Kevin Graham, 12.Josimar Belgrave, 19.Dexter Pacheco, 23.Christian Baptiste.
Coach: Ross Russell
Referee: Gordon Maloney
Digicel Pro League
(8 March 2012)
T&TEC 2 (Sylvester Teesdale 5, Tigana Sparks 90), St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Couva
W Connection 0, Caledonia 1 (Nathan Lewis 74) at Couva
Central FC 4 (Anthony Wolfe 12, Peter Byers 23, 34, Marvin Oliver 26 pen), Police 2 (Jameel Perry 29, Todd Ryan 51 pen) at Macoya
North East Stars 1 (Cornell Glen 15), Defence Force 0 at Macoya[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]