TREVIN CAESAR scored the one important goal, as North East Stars wasted several good chances against the bottom team St Ann’s Rangers in the Pro League on Saturday at Arima’s Larry Gomes Stadium.
Caesar, who made his Trinidad and Tobago national senior team debut as a second half substitute in the November 19 friendly international against Jamaica, got the winner in the 36th minute, when he headed in a cross from newly-recruited strike partner Lemuel Lyons.
The three points gained proved vital and pulled Stars up to third spot and among a group of six teams bunching behind comfortable leaders Directv W Connection (20 points). Police, Defence Force and Stars all have 13 points, while Caledonia AIA (12 points), Central FC (11 points) and even Point Fortin Civic FC (nine points) are all in close proximity.
Saturday’s match emphasised Stars’ lack of cutting edge in front of goal since the departure of Cornell Glen, and more recently Anthony Wolfe to India’s I-League – even against an almost bare XI Rangers--who had just reserve goalkeeper Akel Clarke on the bench.
Stars coach Angus Eve is among the first to enter the January transfer window, bringing in 23 year-old former USA-based T&T national youth midfielder Chike Sullivan, 25-year-old former W Connection defender Kerron Cummings, and Lyons, the tall 27 year-old T&T-born former Howard University striker. But the ball still would not go in, as Stars missed several good chances in the second half.
Caesar was twice denied, first his powerful close-up shot deflect over the bar off a defender, then later goalie Terrance Lewis got his legs in the way, after Caesar connected adequately with Sullivan’s cross. Stars’ Aquil Selby is clearly a defender, and did not show a striker’s instinct when putting wide of an open goal in the 56th minute, and Lyons also showed quickness and physical strength, but only found the Rangers goalkeeper, after running in clear on goal three-quarter way through the match. Several more Stars chances went unconverted, and the financially-limited Rangers team might well consider themselves lucky to have come away with a respectable result, having looked unsettled for much of the season.