North East Stars are off the bottom of the Pro League (PL) standings for the first time this season, albeit only by goal-difference, and the holders must thank goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel for a 0-0 draw against Morvant Caledonia United in a rescheduled clash on Tuesday night at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The 28-year-old Trinidad and Tobago former Youth World Cup ‘keeper made a second half penalty save to deny Morvant Caledonia star Keron Cummings and three other crucial stops in the half to blank his former employers—the side that had trashed North East Stars 8-0 less than a month ago.
North East Stars, with the point earned, hurdled Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers for ninth-position on the 10-team ladder but are only ahead by a superior goal-difference with both teams on 6 points, while Morvant Caledonia (15 points) remain three points behind sixth-positioned Sando with six league games left.
“We are much more competitive now,” said North East Stars’ coach Zoran Vranes, whose side are, for the first time this season, unbeaten in two consecutive outings with their previous outing a narrow 2-1 win over San Juan Jabloteh.
“It was a disaster when we played [Morvant Caledonia] a few weeks ago,” added the 68-year-old Yugoslav-born former T&T national team coach. “But now we are much better in terms of being competitive. We have added a couple players with more experience and it makes a difference in the atmosphere around the team. The players are now understanding that football is serious business and we (the club) remain focused on developing the young players to make business with them.”
North East Stars had a chance to grab the lead after 30 minutes from the penalty spot after Josiah Daniel was brought down by Malik Mieres in the area, but ex-Morvant Caledonia forward Kordell Samuel failed to beat Terrence Lewis – the ‘keeper sprawling to his left to match the striker’s effort.
Three minutes into the second half referee Keilon Bacchus pointed to the spot again when Grenada international forward Saydrel Lewis went to ground in the North East Stars’ box after a challenge from recently signed central defender Dwane James, but Samuel matched his opposite number to deny Cummings, who lacked conviction from as early as his casual approach to the kick.
Samuel followed up with two more saves, the second to deny substitute Sheldon Holder six minutes from time before defender James cleared at the goalmouth to keep out a follow up effort from Saydrel Lewis as Morvant Caledonia struggled against a side they washed comfortably on Sep. 28.
A stoppage-time miss by substitute Quincy Ballah with Samuel at his mercy dropped the curtain on a miserable performance by the “Eastern Stallions” who must next host Rangers in the first game of a double-header from 6pm on Friday at Ato Boldon Stadium. Jabloteh will tackle third-placed Police FC from 8pm in the second game.
“We had the players to get the job done against North East Stars,” said Morvant Caledonia coach Jerry Moe, whose side was also equipped with the likes of former Canada-based winger Aikim Andrews and veteran midfielder Kerry Daniel.
”We had enough clear cut chances to put the game away [although] we were a bit flat without enough penetration.
“But we had one or two bright spots in the performances of [defenders] Maurice Ford and Ross Russell (Jr.) and [keeper] Terrence Lewis.
“I don’t think we did everything wrong [against North East Stars], but it’s back to the drawing board for us to improve a couple areas in terms of finishing and creating more chances and maybe the result will come against Rangers,” ended the Morvant Caledonia coach.
North East Stars, meanwhile, must next host Defence Force FC from 3:30pm at Larry Gomes Stadium on Saturday.
North East Stars held the “Tetron Boys” to a 1-1 draw when both sides met two months ago, Aug. 18, in Round One.
“It was a surprise for me then,” Vranes said. “I expect [Saturday’s game] to be a difficult but equal one. At least we will be more competitive. We are more optimistic now.”
Also on Saturday, W Connection and Central FC will square off in a top-of-the-table clash from 3:30pm at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium. Pro League action will return to the Marabella venue on Sunday with Club Sando hosting Point Fortin Civic from 3:30pm.
Pro League 2018
Rescheduled Round One Match Day Four result
(Tuesday 16 October)
Morvant Caledonia United 0 vs North East Stars 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Round Two Match Day Four
(Friday 19 October)
Morvant Caledonia United vs Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers, 6pm at Ato Boldon Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh vs Police FC, 8pm at Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Saturday 20 October)
W Connection vs Central FC, 3:30pm at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
North East Stars vs Defence Force FC, 3:30pm at Larry Gomes Stadium;
(Sunday 21 October)
Club Sando vs Point Fortin Civic, 3:30pm at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday
Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK); 4.Maurice Force, 5.Joshua Sylvester (10.Sheldon Holder 62nd minute), 8.Ross Russell Jr., 9.Sedale Mc Lean (11.Quincy Ballah 70th minute), 13.Saydrel Lewis, 15.Malik Mieres, 17.Kerry Daniel (Capt.), 20.Keron Cummings, 22.Joshua Alexander, 29.Aikim Andrews (25.Joshua Martin 88th minute).
Unused substitutes: 6.Keion Goodridge, 24.Osei Charles, 28.Jomokie Sandy.
Coach: Jerry Moe
North East Stars: 1.Glenroy Samuel (GK); 7.Hayden Tinto, 9.Kordell Samuel, 14.Keithen Carter, 15.Lashawn Roberts, 18.Josiah Daniel (8.Saleem Henry 60th minute), 23.Sherwyn Williams (12.Jaydon Prowell 46th minute), 24.Rakim Cabie, 26.Dwane James, 27.Ross Dowden, 30.Kareem Davidson (2.Jabari Brathwaite 81st minute).
Unused substitutes: 21.Javon Sample (GK); 6.Adrian Noel, 20.Dareem Daniel, 22.Allister Bernard.
Coach: Zoran Vranes
Referee: Keilon Bacchus
Assistant Referee 1: Caleb Wales
Assistant Referee 2: Jordan Cox
Fourth Official: Joel Cox
Match Commissioner: Cassie Moore
Pro League 2018 standings
# Team MP W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 W Connection 12 8 4 0 30 6 24 28
2 Central FC 12 7 2 3 31 20 11 23
3 Police FC 12 7 2 3 24 13 11 23
4 Defence Force FC 12 6 2 4 28 16 12 20
5 San Juan Jabloteh 12 6 2 4 17 14 3 20
6 Club Sando 12 5 3 4 22 18 -2 18
7 Morvant Caledonia Utd 12 3 6 3 24 17 7 15
8 Point Fortin Civic 12 2 2 8 14 24 -10 8
9 North East Stars 12 1 3 8 11 33 -22 6
10 Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers 12 2 0 10 6 46 -40 6