The Sunshine Girls, the Caribbean’s top-rated side, has been without a head coach since Minneth Reynolds resigned last December.
Central FC had the courtesy of welcoming back defending Digicel T&T Pro League champion Defence Force, and even without its head coach, Englishman Terry Fenwick, the “Sharks” managed a 2-0 win over the rusty soldiers, extending their unbeaten run to nine matches at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
Central captain Marvin Oliver broke the stubborn Army/Coast-Guard combination 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 from 15 matches, one point more than, now, fourth positioned North East Stars, and 10 adrift of leaders DirecTV W Connection while Point Fortin Civic is 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 five matches in hand.
Speaking after the loss Defence Force coach Ross Russell said, “The league is still open.
“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 can still win the league. I won’t count (our chances) out yet.”
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 Fenwick travelled to his homeland, England, last Saturday because of a family emergency but is expected to return on Wednesday.
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 equalising 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.
Today, W Connection will have a chance to push its lead back to ten points over Pt Fortin when it faces Caledonia at Couva from 7 pm.
Tuesday: Central FC 2 (Marvin Oliver 33rd, Jason Marcano 71st) vs Defence Force 0
Team P W D L F A Pts
W Connection 14 10 3 1 30 9 33
Pt Fortin Civic 15 8 2 5 23 16 26
Central FC 15 5 8 2 22 15 23
North East Stars 14 6 4 4 13 9 22
Police 14 6 3 5 19 20 21
Caledonia 14 5 5 4 22 16 20
Defence Force 9 4 1 4 15 16 13
Jabloteh 15 3 2 10 19 34 11
Rangers 14 1 0 13 11 39 3
Today: Caledonia AIA vs W Connection, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, 7 pm
Tomorrow: St Ann’s Rangers vs Central FC, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva,
Defence Force vs San Juan Jabloteh, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, 8 pm
Saturday: North East Stars vs Police, Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar,