Veteran marksman Kerry Baptiste scored his third item of the 2017 season and his 150th career Pro League goal yesterday evening to help North East Stars reclaim pole position with a 1-1 draw against San Juan Jabloteh in Barataria.
The result moved coach Derek King’s Stars one point clear of Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s W Connection and Angus Eve’s Club Sando, just nine games into the season.
Jabloteh are fourth in the standings with 14 points—they trail the leaders by four points—and might have expected more from the match after nippy attacker Julio Noel opened the scoring in the 21st minute. But Baptiste produced a rapid response with a 26th minute equaliser, which pulled him within three goals of the Pro League’s all-time leading scorer, Devorn Jorsling of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.
Stars are winless in their last three matches, which include last Friday’s draw with defending champions, Central FC, and a last-gasp defeat to Point Fortin Civic at the Mahaica Oval on 11 August. However, the Point Fortin result was the only time King’s side has tasted defeat since he took over the reins of the team, which is now based at the Arima Velodrome.
Central had much less to celebrate yesterday as they were spanked 3-0 by Police FC at the Police Barracks in St James.
The “Couva Sharks” lost head coach Dale Saunders last week and only had 14 players available when they held Stars to a 1-1 draw. New coach Stern John could not repeat the trick in St James as a first-half strike by Kurdell Braithwaite and a late double by former National Under-20 Team attacker Joshua Leach helped Police to a 3-0 win.
This weekend, attention turns to the TTFA FA Trophy competition as the grand old domestic competition makes its return after a three-year absence.
There will be cash incentives at every stage of the 2017 edition as each victorious team receives $3,000 in the opening round of 32 and then $5,000, $7,000, $9,000 and $11,000 in the round of 16, round of eight, quarterfinals and semi-finals respectively.
The winner and runner-up will pocket $100,000 and $25,000 respectively on the final day of the competition.
Stars, who edged Connection to the title on penalties in 2015, are in action from 4pm on Saturday when they play Siparia Spurs at the Palo Seco Recreation Ground in Palo Seco.
Pro League results
(Tuesday 12 September)
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Julio Noel 21), North East Stars 1 (Kerry Baptiste 26) at Barataria Recreation Ground;
Police FC 3 (Ryan O’Neal 32, Joshua Leach 86, 88), Central FC 0 at Police Barracks.
TTFA FA Trophy
Round of 32
(Saturday 16 September)
Eagles FC vs Sangre Grande Dream Team, 4pm, Africa Grounds, Enterprise;
D Marie Hill Youths vs Hydro Tech Guaya United, 4pm, D’Marie Hill Recreation Grd, Sangre Grande;
Malta Carib Alcons vs UTT, 6pm, UTT, Arima;
Fire Service FC vs Black Rock FC, 4pm, Hugo Francis/Woodford Lodge, Chaguanas;
Manzan United vs Prisons FC, 4pm, Manzanilla Rec Ground, Manzanilla;
1976 FC Phoenix vs Goal City FC, 5pm, Canaan/ Bon Accord Rec Ground, Tobago;
Perseverance Ball Runners (CFA) vs Erin FC, 4pm, New Settlement Ground, Caroni Sav Road, Caroni;
Biche Utd vs Trinity Rangers, 4pm, Biche Recreation Ground, Biche;
Siparia Spurs vs North East Stars, 4pm, Palo Seco Rec Ground, Palo Seco.
(Sunday 17 September)
QPCC vs FC Santa Rosa, 4pm, St Mary’s College Ground, Serpentine Road, St Clair;
Petit Valley United vs Cunupia, FC 4pm, Diego Martin North Secondary, Diego Martin;
San Juan Jabloteh vs La Horquetta XF, 4pm, Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, Arima;
Central Soccer World vs Harlem Strikers (CFA), 4pm, St Mary’s Ground, Freeport;
Calder Hall FC vs Bethel FC, 6pm, Mt Pleasant Recreation Ground;
Serial Strikers vs Pitchmen FC, 4pm, Lachoos Road, Rec Facility, Penal;
Central FC vs Morvant Caledonia Utd, 4pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Balmain, Couva;
Santa Flora FC vs Harlem Strikers, 4pm, Santa Flora Grds, Santa Flora;
MIC IT St Ann Rangers vs Perseverance Ball Runners, 4pm, St Augustine Secondary Ground;
RSSR vs Signal Hill Utd, 4pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Main Field;
San Fernando Giants vs St Francois Nationals, 4pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella;
Cultural Roots vs Club Sando, 4:30pm, Dibe Rec Grd, Long Circular, St James;
Club Sando Moruga vs Perseverance United, 4pm, Grand Chemin Rec Grd, Moruga;
Leeds FC vs Creek SCC, 4pm, Mt Pleasant Rec Grd, Tobago;
Belmont FC vs Defence Force, 5pm, Hasely Crawford Training Field;
Step by Step Maple vs Stokely Vale FC, TBA;
W Connection vs Tamana Utd, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Central 500 Spartans vs Marabella FCC, 4pm, Edinburgh 500 Rec Grds;
Defence Force SL vs Youth Stars, 4pm, Defence Force, Sports Field, Chaguaramas;
WASA FC SL vs Police FC (Pro), 5pm, WASA Grounds, St Joseph;
Pele Pele vs Police FC SL, 4pm, La Brea Recreation Facilities;
WASA (EFA) vs FC Maloney, 3pm, WASA Ground, St Joseph;
Red Hill FC vs Point Fortin Civic, 5pm, Maloney Rec Ground, D’Abadie.