Keron “Ballpest” Cummings opened his North East Stars account yesterday with a spanking double at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva as the Sangre Grande-based club advanced to the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield semifinal with a 2-1 win over Police FC.
Cummings scored with a powerful strike in the second minute and again with a fine individual effort in the 41st minute to steer the Stars towards a semifinal clash with Central FC. Jameel Perry pulled a goal back for Police in the 72nd minute to provoke a late charge by the “Lawmen.”
But it was not enough to unseat coach Angus Eve’s men.
In the other quarterfinal clash yesterday, a largely second-string DIRECTV W Connection team cruised to a 3-1 win over San Juan Jabloteh at the same venue.
The result means that Connection will face Point Fortin Civic, the club’s spiritual relative, in the other semifinal. More than half the Civic squad, including coach Reynold Carrington, were former Connection employees.
There were only three starters from Connection’s last Pro League match in the first team yesterday while the likes of Joevin Jones, Daneil Cyrus, Kurt Frederick, Julani Archibald and captain Gerard Williams all began on the bench. It didn’t do Jabloteh much good though as the San Juan team was hopelessly outclassed from the first whistle.
St Lucian midfielder Tremain Paul, who started in the midfield anchor role, opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a cracking shot into the far corner from outside the box after the Jabloteh defence failed to deal with an exchange by Jamal Clarence and Neil Benjamin Jr.
Clarence made it 2-0 in the 15th minute as he stabbed under Jabloteh goalkeeper Shundelle Mayers after a brilliant flick by teenaged attacker Dimitrie Apai. And, in the 24th minute, Connection went three goals clear as Benjamin picked up a poor Mayers clearance and teed up Hashim Arcia for another thumping finish.
The “Savonetta Boys” seemed to lose their appetite thereafter and Jabloteh got a toehold in the second half as defender Kareem Smith rammed home from close range after Connection custodian Aquelius Sylvester parried a Jean-Luc Rochford free kick.
There might have been a golden opportunity for a second item in the 81st minute as Jabloteh winger Micah Lewis beat Sylvester to a pass in the opposing area and was almost knocked into next week by the Connection goalkeeper.
Remarkably, referee Gyasi McDonald gave a spotkick rather than a penalty before allowing Jabloteh’s medics to attend to the groggy Lewis.
Lewis was well enough to continue. But Jabloteh was knocked out.
The second outing looked like being just as one-sided after Cummings pounced on a defensive mix-up to hit a stinging first time volley past Police goalkeeper Adrian Foncette after just two minutes.
Police coach Richard Hood thought his team earned a penalty in the 32nd minute when Perry and Stars midfielder Jayson Joseph went down in the opposing area in a tangle of legs. But Brizan, who is not shy about awarding penalties, gave a free kick to Stars instead.
And, in the 41st minute, Cummings breezily dribbled Police defender Jasimar Ashers before arrowing a low, left footed effort into the far corner to double Stars’ advantage.
Eve’s outfit is not in the habit of letting two goal leads slip away. But Police did give it a go.
Fifteen minutes before the final whistle, Perry halved the deficit with a looping header off a Trent Noel cross. And, as striker Trevin Caesar spent much of the second half trying to officiate rather than bury the game, Police did threaten. But Stars were worthy winners in the end.
Next up is the “Couva Sharks” led by Terry Fenwick, who gave Eve his first coaching job at Jabloteh.
Thus far, their meetings have generally been tense and grim. Stars and Central won two matches apiece—although one Stars victory came via penalties—with four draws; and both scored seven goals from their eight meetings.
Not a single match was decided by more than a solitary goal and Eve’s only two red cards as coach both came during clashes with Fenwick’s Central.
Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier has similarly been troubled by his former protégé, Carrington. In their three league encounters, Civic and Connection have a win each with one tie while Fevrier won the solitary knock out fixture between them but only on penalties after a goalless draw in regulation time.
It should be an intriguing semifinal double header.
North East Stars (4-4-2): 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK); 7.Elijah Manners, 5.Aquil Selby, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 25.Keryn Navarro; 12.Jayson Joseph, 6.Jeromie Williams (15.Chike Sullivan 80), 41.Neveal Hackshaw, 18.Kaashif Thomas (23.Kennedy Hinkson 74); 8.Keron Cummings, 20.Trevin Caesar.
Unused substitutes: 22.Cleon John (GK), 9.Akiel Guevara, 11.Lemuel Lyons, 16.Franz Husbands, 48.Jesus Perez.
Coach: Angus Eve
Police FC (4-2-3-1): 18.Adrian Foncette (GK); 24.Ariei McDavid, 2.Jasimar Ashers, 25.Kemron Purcell (5.Anton Hutchinson 80), 8.Akiba Peters; 13.Elijah Roberts (21.Todd Ryan 35), 6.Kenaz Williams; 39.Joel Lewis (12.Vernell Ramirez 68), 10.Trent Noel (captain), 20.Elijah Belgrave; 15.Jameel Perry.
Unused substitutes: 34.Keston Mata (GK), 1.Errol Charles, 11.Kareem Perry, 26.Wendell Joseph,
Coach: Richard Hood
Referee: Neal Brizan
Lucozade Sport Goal Shield
(Fri Apr 4)
Central FC 4 (Willis Plaza 4 pen, 43, Ataullah Guerra 80, Marvin Oliver 89 pen), Caledonia AIA 0 at Couva
Point Fortin Civic 1 (Akeem Redhead 40), Defence Force 1 (Glynn Franklyn 80) at Couva
*–Point Fortin wins 4-3 in penalty shoot-out
(Sat April 5)
W Connection 3 (Tremain Paul 8, Jamal Clarence 15, Hashim Arcia 24), San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Kareem Smith 75) at Couva;
North East Stars 2 (Keron Cummings 2, 41), Police FC 1 (Jameel Perry 72) at Couva