There was another red card and another defeat for Pro League leaders Central FC last night as the “Couva Sharks” surrendered to a 3-2 result to San Juan Jabloteh at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.
It was the second straight League loss for the Couva-based outfit in a week when its managing director Brent Sancho took up the post of Minister of Sport. To put that into context, Central’s only prior League defeat this season came last November against Police and the Sharks were without Jan-Michael Williams, Ataulla Guerra and Leston Paul who were all on international duty at the time.
There were no such excuses this week. On Tuesday, veteran Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling struck late to silence the Sharks, who were reduced to 10 players after a red card to Guerra.
And things did not get easier for the Sharks against a fresh, feisty San Juan outfit in the second match of yesterday’s Macoya double header.
In the earlier fixture, Police FC treated the early crowd to some champagne football as the
Lawmen” romped to a convincing 3-0 win over an unimaginative Caledonia AIA outfit. Police striker Jameel Perry did not get on the score sheet but he would have left the “Cale” backline with nightmares after a brilliant individual performance that was aided with goals from Kareem Freitas, Clevon McFee and Kenaz Williams.
Elsewhere at the Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin Civic picked up another three points at home as they rebounded from a goal down to thrash table proppers, St Ann’s Rangers, 4-1. Jamille Boatswain scored twice for Civic while talisman Marcus Joseph and Shackiel Henry contributed a goal apiece. Rangers captain Jelani Peters got his team’s lone goal.
At the Marvin Lee Stadium, all seemed to be going according to plan for Central early on as they were awarded a penalty within the first quarter of an hour. Tenacious wing-back Kaydion Gabriel stole in ahead of Jabloteh defender Mudassa Howe before being hauled to the ground and referee Rodphin Harris promptly pointed to the spot.
Central playmaker-turned-centre-half Marvin Oliver squeezed home his own rebound after his initial penalty attempt was stopped by Jabloteh goalkeeper Raheem Belgrave.
Jabloteh wasted very little time to get back in the game as one of their Jamaican stand-outs Fabian Reid pulled a trick out of his bag in the 20th minute. About 22 yards away from goal and with very little support, Reid nonchalantly knocked the ball past two Central defenders before latching onto his own pass and curling a beautiful right-footed effort beyond an unmoved Williams in the opposing goal.
Jabloteh were giving as good as they got in the first half and their midfield trio of Brendon Boucaud, Garth Thomas and Jevon Morris allowed little by way of fluidity for Central in the middle of the park.
There was a scare for Jabloteh in the 36th minute as their goalkeeper Belgrave clashed with Central’s Rundell Winchester while going for a cross. Belgrave rallied to the half before being replaced by Mucurapo East school boy Aaron Enil.
Central started the second half with more vigor than their opponents and fashioned two opportunities through their recently returned strike duo of Winchester and Willis Plaza; neither of the marksmen found the target though.
Jabloteh’s 18-year-old centre-half Isaiah McIntyre made the “Soca Warriors” duo pay with a long-raking pass for newly acquired striker Tyrone Charles who finished cleverly past an outrushing Williams in the 58th minute. McIntyre, a St Anthony’s College student, spent the first half of the season on Rangers’ books while Charles, a former Central employee, started the season with North East Stars.
The Sharks saw red again in the 62nd minute after a coming together between Winchester and Morris. Winchester was struck with a flailing arm in the tussle but was given his marching orders after showing dissent to referee Harris.
Central did not let that ejection faze them though as they drew level via an Oliver penalty conversion just four minutes later. This time, the burly San Juan North school boy Josiah Trimmingham was the culprit for the infringement.
The game was completely wide open at this point as Central, who switched from 5-3-2 to 4-3-1-1, refused to back off despite being a man down.
“He scores when he wants… Willis Plaza, he scores when he wants.”
The Central choir chanted encouragingly to their in-form striker but it did not have the desired effect. Plaza rippled the side-netting with a right-footed shot in the 74th minute before Howe denied him with a spectacular goal mouth clearance in the 77th after the striker’s finessed effort looked destined for the net.
The night did not belong to Plaza but to Charles. The new Jabloteh recruit latched onto a sideways pass by the lively Reid and, with a great deal to do yet, outmuscled the much bulkier Central defender Jamal Jack before rifling his right-footed shot into the top corner from a difficult angle.
Jack had a chance to redeem himself deep into stoppage time but could not adjust his feet at the back post with Enil at his mercy. And it meant a deserved 3-2 win.
Central FC (5-3-2): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 12.Jamal Jack, 10.Marvin Oliver, 17.Marcelle Francois (26.Michael Darko 83), 11.Darren Mitchell; 7.Jason Marcano, 2.Elton John, 8.Sean De Silva (captain) (19.Nathaniel Garcia 86); 33.Willis Plaza, 77.Rundell Winchester [Red Card 62].
Unused Substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 99.Dwight Quintero, 14.Jean-Luc Rochford, 29.Upston Edwards, 4.Uriah Bentick.
Coach: Zoran Vranes
San Juan Jabloteh (4-3-1-2): 36.Raheem Belgrave (GK) (35.Aaron Enil 46); 26.Josiah Trimmingham, 15.Isaiah McIntyre, 5.Mudassa Howe (6.Dario Holmes 82), 22.Caleb Sturge (16.Delice Samuel 76); 12.Brendon Boucaud, 18.Jevon Morris, 4.Garth Thomas; 17.Fabian Reid; 10.Kerry Baptiste (captain), 29.Tyrone Charles.
Unused Substitutes: 8.Newton Sterling, 14.Shaquille Bertrand, 21.Neil Mitchell, 23.Brendon Figuera.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Referee: Rodphin Harris
(Fri Feb 6)
Point Fortin Civic 4 (Marcus Joseph 72, Shackiel Henry 75, Jamille Boatswain 83, 90), St Ann’s Rangers 1 (Jelani Peters 56) at Mahaica Oval;
Police FC 3 (Kareem Freitas 3, Clevon McFee 41, Kenaz Williams 60), Caledonia AIA 0 at Macoya;
San Juan Jabloteh 3 (Fabian Reid 20, Tyrone Charles 59, 85), Central FC 2 (Marvin Oliver 14, 66 pen) at Macoya.