ATO BOLDON STADIUM, Couva – Central FC, led by a Willis Plaza hat-trick, enjoyed a comprehensive 6-0 win over bottom of the table St. Ann’s Rangers on Friday night to occupy second on the Digicel Pro League 2013/2014 standings.
And in the second match of the Round Two Match Day Nine double header at the Couva venue, defending champions Defence Force, reduced to 10 men in the second period, were comfortable 3-0 winners over San Juan Jabloteh.
However Defence Force, with 6 games in hand and coming off Tuesday’s 2-0 loss against Central, remained 7th on the nine-team table with 16 points – five more than the eight-positioned Jabloteh.
While Central FC, now with 26 points and unbeaten in 10 consecutive matches, moved ahead of Point Fortin Civic with a superior goal-difference, and will stay there over the Carnival break.
Eight points ahead of them are leaders and title favourites, DIRECTV W Connection (34 points), who were held to a goalless draw against Caledonia AIA on Thursday night.
Midfielder Jason Marcano opened the scoring for Central in just the 12th minute, improving his personal statistics to a goal per game in his last four appearances, with a neat chip over a well-advanced goalkeeper Terrence Lewis for a 1-0 advantage.
Plaza then doubled the "Sharks" advantage, 2-0, by the 39th minute with a confident low finish past goalkeeper Lewis after he was picked out by Darren Mitchell inside the Rangers area.
Plaza and Marcano later combined on the hour mark, with the latter providing a well-placed cross for Mitchell to hit past Lewis for a 3-0 Central lead.
Plaza then blasted a right footer into the upper corner from the right of the area for a 4-0 score a minute later, and from a similar position in the 81st minute, the striker completed his hat-trick in the same upper corner to put the score well out of Rangers’ reach, 5-0.
With six goals already to his name, since joining the "Sharks" last month, and a full round of matches remaining, Plaza is already proving himself a Golden Boot contender.
Lewis, who was forced to make two saves in the 79th minute against Central substitute Sean de Silva, was unfortunate again in the 90th minute, when another "Sharks" substitute Johan Peltier finished off a run down the right with a cool finish past a hapless Rangers’ goalie for a 6-0 result.
Similarly in the second match, Jabloteh goalkeeper Shane Mattis was hung out to dry by his defence.
Mattis failed to wrap a low effort by Devorn Jorsling in the 10th minute and Josimar Belgrave, whose earlier effort was foiled by the Jamaican, rushed in for a simple finish into a open net for a 1-0 lead.
Jorsling then doubled Army’s lead, 2-0, in the 35th minute with a trademark left-footed free-kick from the top of the area, hitting the underside of the crossbar and into the net after referee Neil Brizan ruled that Jevon Morris had fouled Belgrave.
Jabloteh’s night worsened in the 45th minute, and Defence Force were 3-0 in front, when a cross by Jerwyn Balthazar from the left was headed past Mattis by his defender Jamal Spencer, who attempted to tame the cross to his goalie.
Jabloteh failed to recover from the first half, which included their captain on the night, Rennie Britto, hitting the upright.
The San Juan club was also lucky not to concede a fourth item in stoppage time when Mattis tamed a weak effort by Army substitute Balondemu Julius.
Defence Force will next face fourth positioned North East Stars in a rescheduled Round Two Match Day Three fixture on Tuesday from 6 pm at the Marvin Lee Stadium, but without the services of defensive midfielder Curtis Gonzales.
Gonzales was showed a direct red card in the 72nd minute by Brizan, who was instructed by assistant referee Ainsley Rochard, for what was deemed an elbowing to Jabloteh's Neil Mitchell.
Rochard's decision, which only came after he was confronted by an outraged Britto, was questioned by an infuriated Army head coach Ross Russell, his technical staff and a baffled Gonzales as he made his way to the tunnel.
Caledonia AIA 0—0 W Connection
St. Ann’s Rangers 0—6 Central FC
Jason Marcano 12’, Willis Plaza 39’, 61’, 81’ Darren Mitchell 60’, Johan Peltier 90’
Defence Force 3—0 San Juan Jabloteh
Josimar Belgrave 10’, Devorn Jorsling 35’, Jamal Spencer (own goal) 45’
St. Ann’s Rangers—25. Terrence Lewis(C), 4. Jelani Peters, 10. Kenedy Isles, 14. Michael Yaw Darko, 16. Keron Alexander, 26. Josh Toussaint, 28. Kadeem Corbin (31. Jameel Antoine 81st), 33. Isaiah Mc Intyre, 41. Kevin Carter, 43. Shomarie Antoine (Yellow Card), 51. Keron Cornwall (Yellow Card) (50. Kyle La Borde 68th)
Unused substitutes—1. Akel Clarke (GK), 5. Keon Peters, 30. Rickyl Morris, 39. Shaquille Moses, 21. Jair Edwards
Central FC—21. Jan-Michael Williams,1. Willis Plaza, 2. Elton John, 3. Keion Goodridge, 7. Jason Marcano (Yellow Card) (13. Johan Peltier 68th), 10. Marvin Oliver (C) (4. Sean de Silva 74th), 11. Darren Mitchell, 12. Jamal Jack, 27. Samuel Delice (17. Rundell Winchester 53rd), 6. Leston Paul, 50. Yohance Marshall
Unused substitutes—25. Javon Sample (GK), 5. Julio Noel, 9. Dwight Quintero, 24. Akeem Benjamin
San Juan Jabloteh—30. Shane Mattis, 16. Nyron Jones, 20. Dwane James, 21. Neil Mitchell (9. Jelani Felix 83rd), 7. Rennie Britto (C), 6. Dario Holmes, 18. Jevon Morris (Yellow Card), 2. Duran Dilworth, 8. Bradley Welch (17. Kerry Daniel 53rd), 15. Micah Lewis (4. Jean-Luc Rochford 83rd), 12. Jamal Spencer
Unused substitutes—10. Kerry Baptiste, 19. Dillon Kirton, 5. Mudassa Howe, 25. Alfie James
Defence Force—25. Sheldon Clarke, 14. Corey Rivers (C), 10. Josimar Belgrave (7. Balondemu Julius 77th), 11. Kevon Carter (Yellow Card), 9. Devorn Jorsling (26. Richard Roy 87th), 6. Rodell Elcock, 17. Ross Russell Jr., 15. Jerwyn Balthazar, 8. Curtis Gonzales (Red Card), 12. Jemel Sebro (21. Aklie Edwards 66th), 4. Dave Long
Unused substitutes—18. Sean Narcis, 70. Dwayne Thomas, 5. Devin Jordan, 23. Kerry Joseph