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Corey Rivers made perhaps his biggest contribution of the season as he netted a late item for Defence Force to pull off a 1-0 win over Police in a rescheduled Digicel T&T Pro League match on Tuesday at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
With ace forward Devorn Jorsling sidelined with a hamstring injury picked up during a 3-1 win over Police in another rescheduled clash on Sunday last, the Army/Coast-Guard combination needed a strike from right-back Rivers, two minutes into stoppage-time to earn all three points, for a seventh win in a row which improved their tally to 38 from 19 matches, in third spot, and two matches in hand on leader DirecTV W Connection.
And in the second match at the Couva venue, Point Fortin Civic slammed San Juan Jabloteh 3-0 to move up a spot into second with 39 points, thanks to a brace from the league’s top scorer, Marcus Joseph.
He opened the scoring in the fourth minute and then got another five minutes from the penalty-spot for his 15th league goal this season while Jamille Boatswain got the third, ten minutes into the second-half for Pt Fortin.
However, Pt Fortin only has one match left to play against slumping Caledonia AIA on May 6 and will be hoping for another win to stay in contention for a top-two finish, which will guarantee a spot in next year’s Caribbean Football Union Club Championships—a qualifier to the Concacaf Champions League.
Defence Force, meanwhile plays St Ann’s Rangers on Tuesday followed by Caledonia and W Connection in back-to-back matches on May 4 and 6 before ending against San Juan Jabloteh on May 13.
But while Defence Force kept its bid for a successful title repeat on the cards—its third title in four years— Central FC saw its own title ambitions in only its second year in the league suffer a major set-back in a 1-2 loss to North East Stars at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, in a match which began one hour later than its scheduled 8 pm kickoff.
The man doing the damage for Stars was striker Trevin Caesar with two early goals before Ataullah Guerra pulled one back for Central from the penalty-spot.
Caesar fired the Angus Eve coached-Stars to a 1-0 lead after only five minutes with a powerful strike from an angle past goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams on his near post after evading right-back Akeem Benjamin while Willis Plaza muffed a chance to get Central back on level terms when he fired wide of the target in the eighth.
The speedy Caesar then doubled his team’s advantage in the 18th minute with his 14th league goal this season when he latched onto a pass from Jayson Joseph behind defender Benjamin and blasted past Williams.
Defender Jamal Jack then had two chances to get Central back into the match, however on each occasion he was denied by goalkeeper Cleon John, both in the 20th and 31st minute while the latter also denied Plaza three minutes from the interval and Chike Sullivan within a few seconds to preserve his team’s lead.
On the resumption, “Sharks’” coach Terry Fenwick introduced midfielders Darren Mitchell and Sean de Silva at the expense of defender Benjamin and winger Samuel Delice.
But it was from a handball ruled by referee Rodphin Harris against Stars left-back Jesus Perez on a cross by Jack that offered Central a chance back into the match from the penalty-spot which Guerra netted in the 54th minute to reduce the deficit 1-2.
With three minutes left on the clock, John was called upon to make another save from Plaza, pushing away his attempt for a corner to maintain his team’s slim lead until the final whistle, thus ending Central’s 15-match unbeaten run in all competitions and a nine-match winning streak.
In the first match at Mucurapo, cellar-positioned Rangers celebrated only their second win of the season by surprising Caledonia 3-2 with Keron Cornwall netting an 84th minute winner.
It was the first win for caretaker coach Anthony Streete, in only his third match in charge this season since taking over from Gilbert Bateau for the remainder of the season. This comes after Caledonia defeated Rangers 6-1 and 3-0 in round one and two, respectively.
results, standings & schedule
Defence Force 1 (Corey Rivers 92nd) vs Police 0
Pt Fortin Civic 3 (Marcus Joseph 4th, 9th pen, Jamille Boatswain 55th) vs Jabloteh 0
Rangers 3 (Kennedy Isles 21st, 44th, Keron Cornwall 84th) vs Caledonia 2 (Denron Frederick 33rd, Keyon Edwards 52nd)
North East Stars 2 (Trevin Caesar 5th, 19th) vs Central FC 1 (Ataullah Guerra 54th pen)
Teams P W D L F A Pts
W Connection 21 13 6 2 43 15 45
Pt Fortin Civic 23 12 3 8 35 24 39
Defence Force 19 12 2 5 38 24 38
Central FC 21 10 8 3 42 20 38
North East Stars 22 10 6 6 24 17 36
Caledonia 21 7 6 8 32 31 27
Police 22 8 3 11 29 37 27
Jabloteh 22 3 3 16 22 53 12
Rangers 21 2 1 18 18 62 7
15 - Marcus Joseph (Pt Fortin Civic)
14 - Trevin Caesar (North East Stars)
12 - Joevin Jones (W Connection)
10 - Willis Plaza (Central FC)
9 - Devorn Jorsling (Defence Force)
Venue: Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
Defence Force vs St Ann’s Rangers, 5 pm
Central FC vs Police, 7 pm.