Plaza nets twice as Central feasts on Jabloteh to end winless spell; Stars edge Rangers

San Juan Jabloteh defender Jevon Morris (right) is put under pressure by Central FC forward Willis Plaza during Friday's league match


Willis Plaza scored twice in the second half and was involved in an earlier item as Central FC snapped a six-match winless streak with a comprehensive 4-1 win over San Juan Jabloteh on Friday night.


Central, coming off six consecutive draws, weren't toting gifts on Valentine's Day, and were more interested in the feast "of St Valentine" when utility player Samuel Delice fired the "Sharks" ahead in just the 5th minute of play.


Delice, occupying wide midfield in the Round Two Match Day Eight fixture of the Digicel Pro League, rifled a low strike past goalkeeper Shane Mattis from close range for the 1-0 advantage after Plaza soared inside the area to flick on an Elton John free-kick into his path.


As for North East Stars, in the earlier match of the Ato Boldon Stadium double header, it took the Angus Eve-coached Sangre Grande outfit until the 27th minute to hit the back of the net, and it came from the penalty spot after Jair Edwards had sent Neil Mitchell skidding in the area.


It was an easy call for referee Cecil Hinds, and makeshift forward Kennedy Hinkson blasted the ball into the upper corner of goalkeeper Terrence Lewis' net for a 1-0 score and what eventually turned out the match winner.


Nevertheless, the slim result meant maximum points for the Stars, now third on the standings with 22 points after moving two spots up, while Central, although bagging full points, remained sixth with 20 points, as does, fifth positioned Caledonia AIA.


Caledonia will travel to the Mahaica Oval on Saturday to tackle high-rolling home side and second positioned Point Fortin Civic (23 points) from 3.30 pm.


Leaders W Connection are with 33 points at the top, and will not be in action on the weekend, but the view from coach Stuart Charles Fevrier's rear view mirror is nothing other than a traffic pileup, with four teams separated only by a point and in the case Caledonia and Central, by goal-difference.


Central, without playmakers Marvin Oliver (suspended) and Atualla Guerra (injury), doubled its advantage 2-0 by the 45th minute on Friday night when midfielder Jason Marcano flung himself bravely inside the six yard area, to take over the line a well-placed Rundell Winchester cross from the right.


Ten minutes after the break Jabloteh reduced the deficit 1-2 when midfielder Bradley Welch made one touch on a Nyron Jones cross inside the area before slamming a shot into Jan-Michael Williams far netting.

 San Juan Jabloteh midfielder Bradley Welch

Welch's celebration was a heart-shaped hand gesture to his noticeably blonde girlfriend seated in the stands. Happy Valentine's surely.


But it was Plaza who snatched the bouquet of flowers and the typical chocolates, figuratively speaking of course, with a pair of goals.


The Trinidad and Tobago international smashed in a rebound from close up in the 59th minute, for a 3-1 score after Jabloteh substitute Rennie Britto had blocked out Leston Paul’s strike from distance.


And in the 90th minute Paul, who dribbled off two opponents on the left, became provider for Plaza, who took a touch away from Mattis before hammering a left footed strike into the back of the net to complete the 4-1 rout of Jabloteh.


Jabloteh, positioned eight on the standings with 11 points—eight points more than bottom of the table Rangers—were lucky not to concede nine minutes earlier when a laser strike by substitute Johan Peltier swooshed past the far upright.


Central head coach Terry Fenwick now has three days in which to prepare for Tuesday's rescheduled Round Two Match Day Two fixture against defending champions Defence Force.


The soldiers are positioned seventh on the standings with 13 points, and with seven games in hand, are still within defending their title.


St. Ann's Rangers 0—1 North East Stars

Kennedy Hinkson 27' (pen)


San Juan Jabloteh 1—3 Central FC

Bradley Welch 55'  ;  Samuel Delice 5', Jason Marcano 45'  ;  Willis Plaza 59', 90'


St. Ann’s Rangers—25. Terrence Lewis (GK) (C), 4. Jelani Peters, 14. Michael Yaw Darko, 16. Keron Alexander(5. Keon Peters 58th minute), 21. Jair Edwards (32. Joshua Sylvester 46th minute), 18. Jemel Berot, 26. Josh Toussaint, 28. Kadeem Corbin, 33. Isaiah Mc Intyre, 41. Kevin Carter, 43. Shomarie Antoine


Unused substitutes—22. Christopher Biggette (GK), 31. Jameel Antoine, 39. Shaquille Moses


Coach—Gilbert Bateau


North East Stars—22. Cleon John (GK), 19. Glenton Wolfe (C), 7. Elijah Manners, 4. Keithy Simpson, 48. Jesus Perez (Yellow Card), 12. Jay-son Joseph, 25. Keryn Navarro, 41. Neveal Hackshaw (6. Jeromie Williams 85th minute), 23. Kennedy Hinkson (20. Trevin Caesar 46th minute),15. Chike Sullivan, 37. Neil Mitchell (11. Lemuel Lyons 64th minute)


Unused substitutes—1. Stefan Berkeley (GK), 8. Keron Cummings, 40. Jomoul Francis, 49. Anthony Diaz


Coach—Angus Eve


San Juan Jabloteh—40. Shane Mattis (GK), 16. Nyron Jones (5. Mudassa Howe 75th minute), 21. Neil Mitchell (7. Rennie Britto 52nd minute), 6. Dario Holmes, 18. Jevon Morris (C), 4. Jean-Luc Rochford (9. Jelani Felix 62nd minute), 2. Duran Dilworth, 8. Bradley Welch, 15. Micah Lewis, 23. Marcus Gomez, 25. Alfie James


Unused substitutes—10. Kerry Baptiste, 19. Dillon Kirton, 17. Kerry Daniel, 24. Kareem Smith


Coach—Keith Jeffrey


Central FC—21. Jan-Michael Williams (GK),1. Willis Plaza (Yellow Card), 2. Elton John, 3. Keion Goodridge, 7. Jason Marcano, 11. Darren Mitchell, 12. Jamal Jack, 27. Samuel Delice (13. Johan Peltier 80th minute), 6. Leston Paul, 17. Rundell Winchester (Yellow Card) (4. Sean de Silva 85th minute), 50. Yohance Marshall


Unused substitutes—22. Keon Trim, 25. Javon Sample (GK), 9. Dwight Quintero, 20. Nicholas Dillon, 24. Akeem Benjamin


Coach—Terry Fenwick