Pro League leaders Central FC ended their mini slump last night with a 3-0 win over North East Stars in the second match of a Marvin Lee Stadium double header.
It was Central’s first win since managing director Brent Sancho and operations director Kevin Harrison became Sport Minister and Advisor to the Sport Minister respectively.
In the earlier encounter, Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh battled back to draw 1-1 with Caledonia AIA courtesy a 87th minute Tyrone Charles goal after Guyanese attacker Domini Garnett put “Cale” ahead in the 59th minute.
It was Charles’ third strike for Jabloteh since his January transfer from Stars and a welcome point for the “San Juan Kings.”
Elsewhere last evening, Point Fortin Civic FC continued their resurgence under interim boss Leroy De Leon as they came from behind to edge Defence Force 2-1 for a third successive win since Reynold Carrington left the club. While defending champions DIRECTV W Connection stayed within three points of the summit with a 2-1 triumph over Police.
At Macoya, Central and North East both began with weakened teams as the “Couva Sharks” were without suspended players Atualla Guerra and Rundell Winchester while Stars captain and goalkeeper Cleon John was on the substitutes’ bench.
Diminutive North East utility player Kennedy Hinkson had the first shy at goal in the sixth minute but his sweetly struck volley was easily corralled by Central custodian Jan-Michael Williams at his near post.
Both sides were struggling to get their passing rhythm but, when an opportunity presented itself, the league leaders were the ones to take advantage.
After some industrious play down the right flank by Kaydion Gabriel, Elton John swung a cross into the six yard box where midfielder Jason Marcano was on hand to glance past goalkeeper Stefan Berkeley. One-nil to Central after 18 minutes.
Stars tried to work their way back into the game but Hinkson and fellow attacker Keron Cummings were often frustrated in their efforts to link up.
Keryn Navarro gave Williams some work to do with a long range effort that forced the “Soca Warrior” into a fine save in the 27th minute. But Central doubled their lead soon after.
Central defender Jamal Jack should have done better with a close range header in the 33rd minute. But he did not have to ponder his miss for long before Willis Plaza struck with his sixth league goal since rejoining the club in January.
Plaza collected a Marcano pass on the half line and sprinted towards the opposing penalty area half before he buried a right-footed shot into the far corner.
Two minutes later, Gabriel did a fine Plaza impersonation before producing a similar finish in the penalty area after excellent link-up play between Plaza and his strike partner Dwight Quintero. It was 3-0 to Central at the half and the encounter was effectively over.
Stars coach Angus Eve did some chopping and changing at the start of the second half as he withdrew defenders Aquil Selby and Keithy Simpson and went from a 4-4-1-1 to a 3-1-4-2 formation.
But it might have been worse as Berkeley hauled down Quintero in the box in the 62nd minute only to redeem himself by swatting away Marvin Oliver’s spot kick.
Central was content to play on the counter attack by then and Stars, although they saw much more of the ball in the second half, never looked too ominous. Neveal Hackshaw and Dwane Jack both threatened with cracking long range efforts and the latter player forced Williams into a smart save in the 77th minute.
But North East could not break Central’s resistance and the Sharks nearly managed a fourth item as defender Uriah Bentick, like his compatriot Jamal Jack in the first half, failed to keep a close range header down.
Central FC (5-3-2): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 17.Marcelle Francois, 10.Marvin Oliver, 12.Jamal Jack, 4.Uriah Bentick, 2.Elton John (3.Keon Goodridge 82), 7.Jason Marcano, 11.Darren Mitchell, 33.Willis Plaza (19.Nathaniel Garcia 76), 99.Dwight Quintero (14.Jean-Luc Rochford 88).
Unused Substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 29.Upston Edwards, 25.Elijah Manners, 6.Leston Paul.
Coach: Zoran Vranes
North East Stars (4-4-1-1): 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 4.Keithy Sampson (12.Jayson Joseph 46), 5.Aquil Selby (6.Jeromie Williams 46), 15.Glenton Wolfe, 38.Jesus Perez, 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 44.Keon Joseph, 41.Neveal Hackshaw (35.Jordan Devonish 79), 14.Dwane Jack, 25.Keryn Navarro, 10.Keron Cummings.
Unused Substitutes: 22.Cleon John (GK), 3.Kareem Richardson, 18.Kaashif Thomas, 26.Zavion Navarro.
Coach: Angus Eve
Referee: Keilon Bacchus
Pro League results
(Fri Feb 20)
W Connection 2 (Jerrel Britto 21, Alvin Jones 27), Police FC 1 (Kareem Freitas 45) at Couva;
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Tyrone Charles 87), Caledonia AIA 1 (Domini Garnett 59) at Macoya;
Point Fortin Civic 2 (Marcus Joseph 45, Akeem Redhead 58), Defence Force 1 (Jerwyn Balthazar 9) at Mahaica;
North East Stars 0, Central FC 3 (Jason Marcano 18, Willis Plaza 37, Kaydion Gabriel 39) at Macoya.