Two-time former champions Central FC are into the quarter-final round of the 2017 First Citizens Cup where they will tackle bitter Couva rivals W Connection on Sunday from 3:30pm at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Tyrik John, the son of legendary Trinidad and Tobago striker and current Central FC coach Stern John, grabbed a stoppage-time winner to lift the Couva Sharks to a 2-1 win against an entertaining MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers bunch in the first of two play-offs on Wednesday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
John (T) saw red, after receiving his second yellow card of the game for pulling his shirt over his head in celebration of his debut Central goal which also snapped the Couva Sharks’ ten-game winless spell in all competitions.
But luckily, the 21-year-old utility player will be available for selection as cards attained during the play-offs will not transfer to the quarter-finals.
Point Fortin Civic in the second play-off dispatched Police FC 4-1 on penalties after a goalless draw which including some incredible regular-time goalkeeping from Trinidad and Tobago international Adrian Foncette, who, unfortunately, was unable to rescue the Lawmen on the shootout.
Civic advances to face North East Stars on Saturday from 3:30pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium but quarterfinal action kicks off on Friday with a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium with Club Sando set to tackle Morvant Caledonia United from 6pm and title holders Defence Force against San Juan Jabloteh from 8pm.
The semi-finals are carded for October 20 before the competition culminates on November 3 with the final and third-place matches.
But the action kicked off in entertaining style and saw veteran midfielder Jason Marcano head the 2013 and 2014 champions Central in front on the hour mark—less than two minutes after Neil Mitchell had struck the Couva Sharks’ upright on the other end.
Rangers’ goalkeeper Cleon John had initially done well to keep out a solo attempt by Sean De Silva but Marcano, the most dangerous Central player on the night, arrived at the right time to bury the rebound.
Rangers levelled the scores 1-1 nine minutes later through substitute Josh Toussaint, who only a minute earlier had replaced Omari Lezama and it proved a masterstroke by coach Adrian Romain.
But Rangers would surrender late to Tyrik John’s strike -- exactly two minutes into the four awarded extra by referee Kwinsi Williams -- and Central, although the taste of victory soured by a red card, booked their place into the quarterfinals.
“It wasn’t the best performance,” acknowledged John (S). “(…) but I think the team showed a lot of character. We [found] ourselves and we went one-nil. [We were] more or less bossing the game after that but against the run of play they came and score [from what] was a fifty-fifty offside call. I haven’t seen [the replay] yet but it looked like offside to me.”
John (S), whose side sits on the bottom half of the Pro League standings and desperate to salvage pride as last season’s historic three-peat league champions, said advancing to the quarterfinal presents a good opportunity for his side to try and rebound.
“(A) good opportunity for us [heading into the next round against W Connection],” said the ex-Columbus Crew, Birmingham City and Sunderland striker. “We (Central) struggle for numbers, we barely making an 11. We are down to bare bones [and] a couple injuries around.
“But I think it’s a great opportunity for the guys to go on and win some more games and to turn our season around. We’ve been struggling …it’s a fact we’ve been struggling around the league. Everyone knows we are struggling for players so hopefully we can have a good run in the [First Citizens] Cup and when we get back to the league hopefully we can do the same.”
In the latter contest, Foncette, fresh from his brilliance in a historic 2-1 Trinidad and Tobago World Cup Qualifying win over the United States 24 hours earlier, made a hat-trick of point blank saves to deny Civic forward Nion Lammy on all three occasions with the latest as close up as four metres.
The Police custodian also put behind put behind a low powerful drive from Civic substitute Shackiel Henry six minutes from time after Stephan Campbell had miraculously headed behind a powerful strike from Jameel Perry midway through the second half on the other end.
Civic, however, were clinical from the spot with Jabari Mitchell, new signing Nathaniel Garcia from Central, Shakiel Henry and Nickcolson ‘Ice’ Thomas all scoring while Police veteran midfielder Todd Ryan stood the only Lawman to find the back of the net on kicks before teammates Clevon Mc Fee saw his effort crash off the bar and Dillion Kirton hitting overbar on the third.
Central FC 2 (Jason Marcano 60’, Tyrik John 90’+2) vs MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers 1 (Josh Toussaint 69’), at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Police FC 0 (1) vs Point Fortin Civic 0 (4), at Ato Boldon Stadium
Civic won 4-1 on kicks from the penalty spot.
Kicks from the penalty spot
Point Fortin Civic 4 v Police FC 1
Jabari Mitchell (scored) Todd Ryan (scored)
Nathaniel Garcia (scored) Clevon Mc Fee (missed)
Shackiel Henry (scored) Dillon Kirton (missed)
Nickcolson Thomas (scored)
Central FC: 30.Kern Caesar (GK); 7.Jason Marcano (Capt.), 8.Sean De Silva, 10.Paul Sirjoo, 12.Taryk Sampson, 13.Rhondell Gibson, 17.Jesse Joseph (Yellow Card), 18.Tyrik John (Yellow Card+Yellow Card=Red Card), 24.Jules Lee (Yellow Card), 28.Jiron Francis (15.Kaydion Gabriel 46th minute), 40.Sean Bateau.
Unused substitutes: 1.Stephon Seepersad (GK); 44.Kerville Jeremiah.
Coach: Stern John
St. Ann’s Rangers: 1.Cleon John (GK) (Capt.); 3.Kareem Eastman, 4.Shane Sandy, 6.Omari Lezama (10.Josh Toussaint 68th minute), 7.Neil Gerard Mitchell (Yellow Card) (18.Kristian Meloney 88th minute), 9.Jair Edwards (23.Kathon St. Hillaire 52nd minute), 14.Xae-Pierre De Fou, 15.Keshawn Hutchinson, 17.Hakim Baird, 20.Aaquil Selby (Yellow Card), 21.Micah Lansiquot.
Unused substitutes: 5.Gerald Meloney, 11.Kazim Donald, 31.Maliq Gumbs, 44.Tyreke Moore.
Coach: Adrian Romain
Referee: Kwinsi Williams
Police FC: 18.Adrian Foncette (GK) (Capt.), 3.Ryan O’Neil (6.Jibri Mc David 51st minute), 9.Jameel Perry, 10.Kareem Freitas, 13.Dillon Kirton, 16.Joshua Leach (7.Kareem Perry 65th minute) (Yellow Card), 17.Dexter Alleyne, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 21.Todd Ryan, 25.Kaashif Thomas, 29.Clevon Mc Fee.
Unused substitutes: 22.Theon Browne (GK); 4.Kadeem Boyce, 5.Kenaz Williams, 24.Keeron Benito.
Coach: Richard Hood
Point Fortin Civic: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK) (Capt.); 10.Jabari Mitchell, 12.Nathaniel Garcia, 13.Nickcolson Thomas, 16.Kelvin Modeste (8.Jamal John 46th minute), 18.Trent Lougheed, 26.Jeremiah Kesar, 30.Nion Lammy, 33.Justin Sadoo (20.Bevon Bass 65th minute), 53.Stephan Campbell, 99.Kevin Moodie (45.Shackiel Henry 46th minute).
Unused substitutes: 52.Akini Adams (GK); 25.Shaquille Dublin, 28.Aelon Minors, 90.Jared Bennett.
Coach: Reynold Carrington
Referee: Nicholai Nyron