Sunday, January 21, 2018

Central stars held again

A wealth of firepower amassed during the December to January transfer window has yet to yield Central FC a single goal in two Digicel Pro League matches. 

The Sharks earned a second goalless draw from a bad tempered upper table football clash with Police, which saw two players sent off by halftime on Friday night at Hasely Crawford Stadium. Central FC previously also drew 0-0 with Point Fortin Civic FC. 

The point moved Police (18 points) to second behind leaders W Connection, while Caledonia AIA (17 points) jumped up to third following a hard-fought 1-0 win over San Juan Jabloteh in a later match. 

Caledonia also had playmaker Densill Theobald sent off in the second half, after elbowing Jabloteh’s Neil Mitchell. Right-back Kareem “Tiny” Joseph provided Caledonia’s winner in the 87th minute, with a bouncing shot that eluded the fingertips of goalkeeper Shane Mattis, as Jabloteh finally broke through following a torrid minute of Caledonia pressure.

Earlier, Central FC, unveiling six new Sharks: former national Under-20 World Cup midfielders Leston Paul and Sean De Silva, former Finland-based pro Atualla Guerra, ex-Thailand-based striker Willis Plaza, United States-based MLS defender Yohance Marshall and ex-Defence Force man Samuel Delice.  

Plaza worked hard as usual, and Paul played an active role in the midfield, but De Silva has yet to settle. Meanwhile, Marshall was solid and his most distinguished piece of work was getting a vital touch when cutting out Dexter Alleyne’s wicked cross, which was dangerously heading for his Police teammate at the back post in the first half. 

Tobagonian Rundell Winchester was one of the few regulars attackers still in the Central starting lineup. Previous starters Dwight Quintero, Darren Mitchell, Akeem Benjamin and Johan Peltier all saw the match from the bench, while veteran midfielder Marvin Oliver was not on the team sheet. With so many new players, coach Terry Fenwick might not have not yet gotten them playing the right way. So, the power failed to ignite. But, there were fireworks nevertheless. 

By the half, referee Keon Yorke had sent off both Police midfielder Trent Noel and his Central counterpart Guerra. The main match official was almost never in control, and under constant challenge from the Central players.  

Central held territorial advantage in the first half, and with their backs against the wall, the “Lawmen” were brutal at times with their tackling. New recruit Plaza felt the brunt of the tackling, with more than one crunching tackle coming from behind his back. 

So, as the Sharks began challenging the official’s calls, Guerra too easily got involved in off-the-ball theatrics. He began complaining, about everything. And perhaps unwisely, Guerra got in the referee’s face once too much. 

Sharks midfielder Jason Marcano was also constantly on the floor, and complaining. But he always does that. Finally, the building inferno erupted when Guerra was sent off for elbowing Police midfielder Joel Lewis. And mad-as-hell policemen Noel, was also given marching orders after menacingly getting close to the referee. 

Despite their referee issues, Central had only poor finishing to blame for their lack of goalscoring. 

A blue-collar worker who honestly works for his wages, Plaza went close several times. Early on, he headed Marcano’s free-kick wide and the former Thailand-based striker also forced a first post save from Police keeper Adrian Foncette. 

Plaza also put a gentle touch onto De Silva’s free-kick and barely looped the ball over the crossbar. Central FC defender Jamal Jack ventured forward for the dead-ball situations, but put Marcano’s corner over during the first quarter hour. But Jack was spot-on with a powerful downward header that looked a sure goal just before the half ended, until keeper Foncette produced a brilliant save, diving low to the near post

Outgunned in the first half, Police still managed to have the best scoring chance of the entire match when lone striker Jameel Perry headed a corner-kick onto the crossbar 10 minutes into the second half. The lawmen were more an attacking force in the second half, and later substitute striker Elijah Belgrave also just missed the far corner with a grounder that had Central keeper Jan Michael Williams scrambling across goal. 

The Sharks kept up the threat, though less frequently in the second half. Substitute Peltier went closest for them when missing the far corner with a fast-moving curler. 

Peltier was stamping mad afterwards, because once again Central were close, but not close enough to three points.


Friday’s results:

Central FC 0 Police 0

Caledonia AIA 1 (Kareem Joseph -87th) San Juan Jabloteh 0


Teams                                               P W D L GF GA GD Pts

Direct TV W Connection                    12 10 2 0 27 5 22 32

Police FC                                         13 5 3 5 18 20 -2 18

Caledonia AIA                                   12 4 5 3 18 14 4 17

Point Fortin Civic FC                         12 5 2 5 17 14 3 17

North East Stars                               11 5 2 4 11 8 3 17

Central FC                                       11 3 6 2 13 11 2 15

Defence Force                                   8 4 1 3 15 14 1 13

San Juan Jabloteh                            12 3 1 8 18 28 -10 10

St Ann’s Rangers                             11 1 0 10 11 34 -23 3