Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stars take another scalp


MARKSMAN: North East Stars striker Cornell Glen, right, is under pressure from Caledonia AIA defender Aquil Selby. Glen scored twice, including a penalty, as Stars beat Caledonia 3-1 in the Digicel Pro League, on Wednesday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

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North East Stars have beaten the top two teams in the Digicel Pro League within a week.

Stars followed up a 1-0 win over Pro League leaders Defence Force (36 points), last week, with a come-from-behind 3-1 win over second-placed Caledonia AIA (32 points), on Wednesday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.

In so doing, the Angus Eve-coached Stars (27 points) leapfrogged defending champions W Connection (26 points) into third, after the latter drew 2-2 with Central FC, a match which sparked some controversy when referee Joel Davidson awarded Central FC a goal although the ball did not appear to cross the line. Vocal W Connection owner David John Williams was livid.

However, a goal-shy W Connection had only themselves to blame, and should have put the match to bed early.

Andrei Pacheo gave W Connection a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute when hitting home Stefano Rijssel's pass at the back post. Afterwards, Connection breached the Central FC backline several times, but strikers Hasim Arcia and Pacheco either shied away from shooting or were foiled by Central keeper Marvin Phillip.

With W Connection in full flight, Central were awarded a controversial 30th minute goal to equalise at 1-1, the match officials awarding a goal although W Connection's Colombian keeper Alejandro Figueroa appeared to have swatted the ball away from goal, after an errant back pass from veteran defender Elijah Joseph.

After heated protests, W Connection resumed business, and led again four minutes later thanks to a Joevin Jones chip. Fortunate to still be so close, Central were level again at 2-2 in the 45th when Antiguan Peter Byers headed home Jason Marcano's cross from the centre of the penalty area.

The second half was a more balanced affair, but keeper Phillip earned "The Sharks" a point by brilliantly fanning away Rijssel's flicked header, which looked destined for the far corner.

Meanwhile, Caledonia failed to put away early chances, faltering after a bright start against Stars. Kareem Joseph put Caledonia ahead in the 12th minute, from the penalty spot, after referee Rodfin Harris controversially adjudged that the ball was handled in the penalty area. Stars protested vociferously.

Caledonia later struck an upright, and midfielder Keyon Edward missed the far corner by a whisker when his team were in rampant mood. However, Stars grew as the match wore on and were in control at the end.

Stars were fortuitously level at 1-1 in the 55th, Cornell Glen's shot coming off the far upright, then going in off the head of keeper Shemel Louision. Glen then converted a penalty in the 60th after he was cut down from behind during a swift counter-attack, which caught most of Caledonia's players upfield. And coming off the bench, veteran Gary Glasgow added a third in the 80th by putting in the rebound when Kerry Baptiste's shot came off the upright.