Central defeat Army to go third; Sharks undefeated in nine

Central FC midfielder Marvin Oliver

Central FC had the courtesy of welcoming back defending Digicel Pro League champions Defence Force, and even without its head coach Terry Fenwick, the "Sharks" managed a 2-0 win over the rusty soldiers, extending their unbeaten run to nine matches.

Central captain Marvin Oliver broke the stubborn soldiers just over the half hour mark, and midfielder Jason Marcano doubled the score midway through the second.

The win propelled the "Sharks" three spots up into third with 23 points, one point more than, now, fourth positioned North East Stars, and 10 points away from leaders W Connection.

Ahead of Central are Point Fortin Civic in second with 26 points.

Meanwhile Defence Force, who had been inactive in over a month prior to Tuesday's rescheduled Round Two Match Day Two fixture against Central, remained seventh with 13 points and 5 games in hand.

“The league is still open,” said an optimistic Defence Force head coach Ross Russell. “We have five games in hand and I think W Connection have started to slide. If we win all our (remaining) games including W Connection, we still win the league. I won’t count (our chances) out yet.”
TOKEN OF HONOUR AND FRIENDSHIP - Tyrell, Roston and Dianne, the siblings of deceased former soldier and footballer, Rawle Fletcher, receives a framed #4 jersey, autographed players and staff, from Defence Force head coach Ross Russell ahead of kick-off on Tuesday. Lance Corporal Fletcher, 34 at the time of his murder, was gunned in Preysal, Couva on December 22 outside a bar along with two other patrons Anil Diram, 19, and Mitra Maharaj, 45.

Central, under the watch of rookie assistant coach Marc Lesie, had the first look at goal in the 21st minute but Marcano's free-kick following a foul on Plaza just outside the area was too high.

It's said that head coach Fenwick travelled to his home-land, England, last Saturday because of a family emergency but is expected to return on Wednesday.

Life at Central continued anyway on Tuesday. In the 24th minute Plaza's low left footed strike brought the first save out of Defence Force's second choice goalie Sheldon Clarke.

Then a blast by former Army player Samuel Delice, free inside the right of the area, rocked the crossbar in the 27th minute.

Central were also lucky not to concede in the 32nd minute when a slip by Devorn Jorsling inside the six yard area allowed a save by the legs of goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams following a cross into the area by Kevon Carter.

But a minute later on the 33rd, the soldiers conceded, when a deft touch off Oliver's boot, volleyed past Clarke at first post for a 1-0 advantage after Plaza headed a poor Army clearance back into the area.

Defence Force was close to equalizing in the 70th minute but Carter's poor header off an early cross by substitute Kerry Joseph, resulted in an easy gather by Williams on the goal-line.

And a minute later, Marcano doubled Central's lead 2-0, for his third consecutive goal in as many matches.

The energetic midfielder picked up on substitute Johan Peltier's pass into the area, slipped away from Clarke, and in an anxious effort, hooked a left footed strike under two defenders and the Army goalie.

“Central didn’t play all over us… something I thought would have happened,” added Russell. ‘We were in the game for the 90 minutes and had chances (which we didn’t convert). So it was about our sharpness. Other teams have been playing regularly while we haven’t been playing at all.”

Four minutes after Marcano’s goal, Plaza, a constant threat in the Army defence, tried his luck from outside the area but was too high of the goal.

As for Defence Force, Curtis Gonzales, who was lucky not to be booked by referee Gordon Maloney near the end, was the most impressive of the soldiers, who will next take on San Juan Jabloteh on Friday night in Round Two Match Day Nine from 8 pm at the very same Ato Boldon Stadium.

“We are going to train hard,” continued the Defence Force coach, as he looks forward to Jabloteh clash on Friday. “We are going to train hard until we get the right form.”

Central will also be in action on Friday, kicking off the double header against bottom of the table St. Ann’s Rangers from 6 pm.

The “Sharks”, hopeful for the return of midfielder Ataulla Guerra, should be under the care of Fenwick by then. Guerra has been undergoing therapy for torn muscles in his right shoulder since picking up the injury two weeks ago against W Connection.

Round Two Match Day Nine kicks off on Thursday at the Couva venue when fifth postioned Caledonia meets leaders W Connection from 7 pm.

Central FC 2—0 Defence Force

Marvin Oliver 33', Jason Marcano 71'

Central FC—21. Jan-Michael Williams (GK),1. Willis Plaza (9. Dwight Quintero 86th minute), 2. Elton John, 3. Keion Goodridge, 7. Jason Marcano, 10. Marvin Oliver (C), 11. Darren Mitchell, 12. Jamal Jack, 27. Samuel Delice (13. Johan Peltier 63rd minute), 6. Leston Paul, 50. Yohance Marshall

Unused substitutes—20. Nicholas Dillon, 25. Javon Sample (GK), 24. Akeem Benjamin, 18. Kevon Goddard, 15. Kaydion Gabriel

Assistant Coach—Marc Leslie

Defence Force—25. Sheldon Clarke(gk), 14. Corey Rivers (C) (Yellow Card), 10. Josimar Belgrave (26. Richard Roy 72nd minute), 11. Kevon Carter, 9. Devorn Jorsling, 6. Rodell Elcock, Ross Russell Jr., 15. Jerwyn Balthazar, 5. Devin Jordan (3. Keston Williams 63rd minute), 8. Curtis Gonzales, 12. Jemel Sebro (23. Kerry Joseph 64th minute)

Unused substitutes—4. Dave Long, 26. Richard Roy, 18. Sean Narcis, 21. Allie Edwards, 70. Dwayne Thomas

Coach—Ross Russell