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Central FC stretch Pro League lead; Oliver set for Jabloteh debut in Barataria

Defending champions, Bankers Insurance Central FC, took a significant stride towards retaining their TT Pro League crown last night, as they edged Defence Force 1-0 in a cagey affair at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Photo: Central FC attacker Marcus Joseph (centre) scores the game winner in TT Pro League action on Saturday while St Ann's Rangers defender Shakiyl Phillip (left) and goalkeeper Christopher Biggette watch on. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC attacker Marcus Joseph (centre) scores the game winner in TT Pro League action on 20 February 2016 while St Ann’s Rangers defender Shakiyl Phillip (left) and goalkeeper Christopher Biggette watch on.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

It has been eight years since a Pro League team successfully defended their title. San Juan Jabloteh was the last team to manage the feat, as they executed successive top place finishes in 2007 and 2008.

And, in the 17 year history of the competition, only Jabloteh and W Connection ever pulled off a repeat.

Central might be next, as the “Couva Sharks” stretched their lead to seven points with just seven league outings remaining.

Forward Marcus Joseph, in his now trademark black gloves, struck the killer blow with a left footed blast in the 13th minute that somehow squirmed through Defence Force goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke’s hands and into the far corner.

There was little goalmouth otherwise as, apart from set pieces, the Army/Coast Guard combination barely troubled Central custodian Jan-Michael Williams.

Photo: LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena (centre) congratulates Central FC custodian Jan-Michael Williams, after their 1-1 2015 CONCACAF Champions League tie in August 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena (centre) congratulates Central FC custodian Jan-Michael Williams, after their 1-1 2015 CONCACAF Champions League tie in August 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Credit to the organised Sharks rear guard though, who closed down quickly and harassed opponents throughout.

Nathaniel Garcia, who was positioned just in front of the back four, rarely gave a moment’s peace to opposing playmaker Hashim Arcia. And Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling might have still felt Central defender Andre Ettienne’s breath on his neck as he went to bed.

In the opening affair of the Couva double header, DirecTV W Connection found themselves two goals down at the half, clawed themselves level and nearly stole all three points too in an entertaining 2-2 affair with Morvant Caledonia United.

Kareem Knights opened the scoring for the “Eastern Stallions” after 13 minutes while a late Pernell Schultz penalty provided a two goal cushion at the interval.

But Connection fought back with strikes by Shahdon Winchester and Dimitrie Apai. And Winchester could have capped a memorable comeback in stoppage time but failed to beat Caledonia custodian Marvin Phillip, despite having time and space inside the penalty area.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national goalkeeper Marvin Phillip gesticulates during his stint with Central FC. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national goalkeeper Marvin Phillip gesticulates during his stint with Central FC.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The result meant that all 10 teams remain as they were in the standings although third place Connection trail second place Defence Force by just three points now. The top two Pro League teams qualify for the 2017/18 CONCACAF Champions League qualifying series.

Jabloteh, who are fifth, trail Defence Force by ten points, albeit with two games in hand. But coach Keith Jeffrey is dreaming of taking the “San Juan Kings” back to CONCACAF competition.

“Our ambition is at least second place, so we are looking at our nine third round games as nine finals,” Jeffrey told Wired868. “At the beginning of the season, we identified at least (getting to the CONCACAF) Club Championship.

“We have a history in that competition… and with a good third round we can still get there.”

Jabloteh will continue that push in new yet familiar territory and possibly with a long departed friend for company.

Jeffrey’s posse play their first competitive game at the Barataria Recreation Ground today from 4.30 pm. And, Pro League clearance permitting, their former stand-out Marvin Oliver will be in the squad.

Photo: Central FC coach Dale Saunders (right) signals to his squad while San Juan Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey looks on during 2015/16 Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC coach Dale Saunders (right) signals to his squad while San Juan Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey looks on during 2015/16 Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

It is not quite home, which would be Bourg Mulatresse, but Jeffrey is excited to play closer to their own community and pointed to the possible financial implications for his club.

“The government has to help us to upgrade the community grounds,” said Jeffrey. “If we can build a fan base and get 1,500 to 2,000 people from the Barataria/San Juan area, then down the road we won’t have to worry about a (government) subvention.

“We would welcome the TT$83,000 (per month from the government). But if it is TT$50,000 alone, we have to realise that this is the government giving a subvention to a private enterprise.

“So we have to say thank you. All we want is a community ground, so we can help ourselves.”

Oliver, who was released by Central last month, is just in time for Jabloteh’s new phase and Jeffrey thinks the 41 year old midfield organiser can be an asset to the club on the playing field.

Photo: Comunicaciones midfielder Jorge Aparacio (left) grapples with Central FC star Marvin Oliver during 2015 CONCACAF Champions League action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Comunicaciones midfielder Jorge Aparacio (left) grapples with Central FC star Marvin Oliver during 2015 CONCACAF Champions League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We are taking him until the end of the season as a player,” said Jeffrey. “He is bringing experience and he is bringing good leadership. He knows the history of Jabloteh because he is from the area and he was with the club for a long time.

“(Oliver) is a leader of men and you need that kind of on-field leadership.”

For now, it his former employers, Central, who are calling the shots in the Pro League, though.

(Teams)

Central FC (4-1-3-2): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 12.Jamal Jack, 4.Andre Ettienne, 24.Kevon Villaroel; 19.Nathaniel Garcia; 22.Leston Paul (captain), 8.Sean De Silva, 25.Elijah Manners (14.Nicholas Dillon 79); 7.Jason Marcano, 99.Marcus Joseph (2.Elton John 46).

Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 3.Keion Goodridge, 9.Kadeem Corbin, 26.Jem Gordon, 33.Samuel Delice.

Coach: Dale Saunders

 

Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK); 8.Curtis Gonzales, 3.Jamali Garcia, 6.Rodell Elcock, 21.Akile Edwards; 4.Dave Long, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (captain); 23.Kerry Joseph (16.Kellon Serrette 77), 10.Hashim Arcia, 17.Ross Russell Jr (30.Kishun Seecharan 62), 9.Devorn Jorsling (26.Richard Roy 66)

Unused substitutes: 1.Andre Marchan (GK), 2.Glynn Franklyn, 12.Jemel Sebro, 18.Sean Narcis,

Coach: Marvin Gordon

 

Referee: Callum Marshall

Man of the match: Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC)

Photo: Central FC scorer Willis Plaza (third from right) and teammates congratulate Nathaniel Garcia (second from left) on his assist against Inter in the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Central FC)
Photo: Central FC scorer Willis Plaza (third from right) and teammates congratulate Nathaniel Garcia (second from left) on his assist against Inter in the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Central FC)

Pro League results

(Friday March 4)

Morvant Caledonia Utd 2 (Kareem Knights 13, Pernell Schultz 44 pen), W Connection 2 (Shahdon Winchester 55, Dimitrie Apai 62) at Ato Boldon Stadium;

Central FC 1 (Marcus Joseph 13), Defence Force 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Photo: W Connection attacker Dimitrie Apai (right) takes on Inter Moengo Tapoe defender Anduelo Amoeferie during CFU Caribbean Club action at Couva on 28 February 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Dimitrie Apai (right) takes on Inter Moengo Tapoe defender Anduelo Amoeferie during CFU Caribbean Club action at Couva on 28 February 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Upcoming fixtures

(Saturday March 5)

St Ann’s Rangers v Club Sando, 4 pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;

San Juan Jabloteh v Point Fortin Civic, 4.30 pm, Barataria Recreation Ground;

(Sunday March 6)

North East Stars v Police FC, 4 pm, Larry Gomes Stadium.

[standings league_id=2 template=compact logo=true]

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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29 comments

  1. Travis you still have those low hard tackles. ????

  2. I just hope for 2 things,that my comrade Saunders finishes the job ,so that Fenwick ‘s fans like Lasana Liburd would accept we just as good or better; and that Fenwick and Sancho doesn’t bounce in a bar and patch up over drinks and he convinces Sancho to rehire him with 3 games to go

  3. Army has to be one of the most physical teams around – some of the tackling out there was heavy…

  4. Could go and watch some footy right by me.

  5. Spanish is the fulcrum of the team now it seems

  6. Lol. I was very surprised to read he had played that position

  7. Nathaniel Garcia reminded me of Dale Saunders yesterday. For those who are too young to know, Dale was quick, clever and brutal as a defensive midfielder back in the day. And decent on the ball too. He won a lot of national caps during a good period for our football.
    Don’t know if Nathaniel will stay there of course. And, sorry Dale, Nathaniel is more skillful. Lol.

  8. I’m missing out so much 🙁 I’ve never missed a Sharks game from the previous seasons 🙁 The Sharks and Army clash has always been exciting.

  9. This Central vs. Army was the best game I’ve seen all season; in terms of quality and entertainment

  10. Hokey Pokey ….good half. ..unfortunate injury #goodluck

  11. Yes Lobo! On form nobody could deny you what’s yours….now wait for the red white and black call