A first half hat-trick by attacker Jason Marcano propelled defending TT Pro League champions Bankers Insurance Central FC to a whopping 7-0 victory over Point Fortin Civic Centre at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva last night.
Ataulla Guerra, Sean De Silva, Ricardo John and former Civic striker Marcus “Lobo” Joseph also got on the scoresheet as the “Couva Sharks” devoured their southern opponents to stay within three points of 2015/16 Pro League leaders Defence Force.
Jerwyn Balthazar and his teammates were just as ruthless in the capital city as the “Army” skipper led his battalion from the front by scoring all four goals in a 4-0 whipping of ninth place St Ann’s Rangers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
In Couva, the Sharks went in search of blood early and often in the second game of the night’s double header, and Civic just were not prepared for the vicious onslaught.
In the 11th minute, De Silva led a determined three-man press on Civic central midfielder Glenn Sutton, which forced the latter player—deep in his own half—into an ill-advised cross-field pass. De Silva duly poked the ball into the path of the alert Marcano and the nippy forward raced past Sutton before finishing calmly beyond the despairing dive of opposing goalkeeper Miles Goodman.
It would be the start of a long night for the Civic custodian.
Guerra, who looked motivated on the night, doubled Central’s lead, just six minutes later, as he curled home a sweet right-footed effort from just inside the area after another assist by fellow playmaker De Silva.
The Civic defence struggled to deal with the Central frontline’s sharp movement from open play while their defensive organisation at set pieces left a lot to be desired also.
Civic conceded two second half goals from corners against Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh in a 3-2 defeat on Tuesday night. And, last night, they conceded two more. The only differences were the uniforms of their opponents and the half that the set piece goals were converted.
This time, De Silva—rather than Jabloteh’s Tyrone Charles—was the architect and Marcano was the finisher. The pair combined in the 23rd and 43rd minutes and gave the modest Ato Boldon crowd the illusion of live replays.
De Silva ended with a beaver of assists to go with the dreadlocked Marcano’s first half hat-trick.
Civic did have a couple sniffs at goal, although three goals down at the time, but their in-form attacker, Shackiel Henry, failed to give his team a lifeline.
First, Henry sizzled a right-footed shot just wide of the post after a swift Civic counter in the 26th minute. Then, mere moments later, he shot straight at Central captain Jan-Michael Williams after receiving a pass from strike partner Jamille Botswain.
Civic started the second half with more intent and Botswain twice tested the “Soca Warriors” custodian inside the first quarter hour.
But it was Botswain’s former teammate, Lobo, who opened the second half score summary, as he slotted past Goodman from close range in the 64th minute after Guerra robbed substitute Mickell Charles in the final third of the field.
The Sharks continued to pin back their opponents and De Silva and substitute Ricardo John added two more well-taken goals for good measure to seal the emphatic victory.
John showed power and pace as he shrugged off a Civic defender before stroking past Goodman in the 77th minute. And De Silva outraced veteran Andrei Pacheco down the right flank before hammering a low shot past a hapless Goodman in the 86th minute.
In the first game of the night’s double header, Club Sando had their three game winning streak snapped as Gorean “Ratty” Highley netted his fourth goal in three games to give Japs North East Stars a 1-nil victory.
Ratty was up to his old tricks as he baited Sando defender Coneal Thomas into a rash tackle inside the area after latching on to a long punt from the back by teammate Rickel Dixon.
Ratty’s subsequent spot kick was stopped by Sando skipper Kelvin Henry, but he gleefully thumped the rebound into the roof of the net to grab the only goal of the contest in the 71st minute.
The result sent Stars to third place in the league table.
Sando, with their compact 5-4-1 formation, fashioned the better of the opportunities for most of the contest and striker Devon Modeste and wing back Kemuel Rivers got good looks at the opposing goal. But the newly promoted team could not find their shooting boots last night and succumbed to their first league defeat of 2016.
Still, Sando did leapfrog Civic into seventh place due to a superior goal difference after the latter team’s defensive meltdown yesterday.
Elsewhere, Morvant Caledonia United stopped their losing skid as Guyanese attacker Sheldon Holder registered his fourth league goal of the season in a 1-nil win over Jabloteh.
Today, DIRECTV W Connection and Police FC will square off at the Larry Gomes Stadium from 3.30 pm in what is expected to be a keenly contested encounter.
Connection currently sit in sixth, while the “Lawmen” are fourth. The high scoring Police must now make do without the services of coach Richard Hood, who was appointed head coach of the women’s national senior team on Tuesday.
Bankers Insurance Central FC (4-1-3-2): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK) (captain); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 4.Andre Ettienne, 12.Jamal Jack, 24.Kevon Villaroel; 2.Elton John; 8.Sean De Silva, 45.Ataulla Guerra, 11.Darren Mitchell (14.Nicholas Dillon 65); 99.Marcus Joseph (18.Ricardo John 68), 7.Jason Marcano (9.Kadeem Corbin 58).
Unused Substitutes: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 5.Akeem Benjamin, 25.Elijah Manners, 26.Jem Gordon.
Coach: Dale Saunders
Point Fortin Civic (4-4-2): 1.Miles Goodman (GK); 21.Ronnell Paul, 15.Nedeon Noel (18.Shaquille Stewart 68), 27.Kern Peters, 19.Andrei Pacheco; 14.Kerwin Stafford (23.Mickell Charles 56), 12.Glenn Sutton, 16.Kelvin Modeste, 8.Akeem Redhead; 20.Jamille Botswain, 9.Shackiel Henry.
Unused Substitutes: 22.Stephon Seepersad (GK), 2.Garyl Doldron, 25.Troy Moses, 26.Kerne George, 99.Cory Cyrus.
Coach: Leroy De Leon
Referee: Keilon Bacchus
Man of the Match: Jason Marcano (Bankers Insurance Central FC)
TT Pro League results
(January 15 2016)
Club Sando 0, Japs North East Stars 1 (Gorean Highley 71), Ato Boldon Stadium;
Bankers Insurance Central FC 7 (Jason Marcano 11, 23, 43, Ataulla Guerra 17, Marcus Joseph 64, Ricardo John 77, Sean De Silva 86), Point Fortin Civic 0, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh 0, Morvant Caledonia United 1 (Sheldon Holder 81), Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Defence Force 4 (Jerwyn Balthazar 4, 26, 45, 64), St Ann’s Rangers 0, Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Upcoming Pro League fixtures
(Saturday January 16)
Police FC v W Connection, 3.30 pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
(Tuesday January 19)
North East Stars v St Ann’s Rangers, 3.30 pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
Central FC v Club Sando, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
W Connection v Point Fortin Civic, 8 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Police FC v Morvant Caledonia Utd, 6 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh v Defence Force, 8 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium.