North East Stars dimmed Central FC’s hopes for a fourth straight TT Pro League crown with a 6-0 hammering, in their Round Two Match Day Two contest at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Friday evening. Rundell Winchester notched a hat-trick while captain Elton John, Jameel Neptune and Jelani Felix got one apiece.
With the result, North East extended their lead to four points over W Connection (24 to Connection’s 20), while Central stayed in sixth spot with 10 points from as many games.
Earlier, ex-national midfielder Hashim Arcia converted a penalty, to the right of ex-Central FC goalkeeper Javon Sample, in the 84th minute as Defence Force edged San Juan Jabloteh 1-0 in the opening game of the double-header.
But the evening would be remembered for the insipid performance of the once star-studded Central FC, as well as the performance of national great Stern John, who tried his best to roll back the years (in his new role as player/coach of Central), but looked a pale imitation of himself.
John, at age 40, is also the assistant coach of the TT team and one wondered if he was trying to earn a place on Dennis Lawrence’s squad for forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against the United States and Mexico next month.
In his second game since making a comeback a week ago, John played the entire match, and he spent most of his time pulling up his socks, gesticulating with his teammates, walking short distances and, inevitably, getting an offside call in the dying minutes.
After a mass exodus of players, as well as supporters and even previous coach Dale Saunders, only one substitute (of the six available) was used by Central FC, while John’s son Tyrik sat on the bench throughout. Oh how the mighty has fallen!!!
Elton John started the bombardment of goals in the third minute, sending goalie Kern Caesar the wrong way from the penalty spot after he was bundled over, inside the box, by rightback Rhondell Gibson.
A fantastic midfield exchange, involving Akeem Garcia, Winchester and veteran Densill Theobald ended with a neat left-footed finish by Neptune, in the 13th, while, eight minutes later, Winchester got between two defenders to side-foot Villaroel’s ball past the beleaguered goalie.
Villaroel and Neptune had a field day on the left flank, and the two combined to tee up Winchester to finish home in the 40th.
Stern John was the recipient of a crunching tackle by James in the 49th, but Central FC held firm until the 81st, when substitute Felix sent his curling left-footed free, from the right, to the top right-hand corner.
And Winchester duly got his treble in the 85th, beating the off-side trap to head home Duane Muckette’s freekick.