Two-time former champions Central FC are into the quarter-final round of the 2017 First Citizens Cup where they will tackle bitter Couva rivals W Connection on Sunday from 3.30pm at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella
Tyrik John, the son of legendary Trinidad and Tobago striker and current Central FC coach Stern John, grabbed a stoppage-time winner to lift the Couva Sharks to a 2-1 win against an entertaining MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers bunch in the first of two play-offs on Wednesday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
Tyriq saw red after receiving his second yellow card of the game for pulling his shirt over his head in celebration of his debut Central goal, which also snapped the Couva Sharks’ 10-game winless spell in all competitions.
But luckily, the 21-year-old utility player will be available for selection as cards attained during the play-offs will not transfer to the quarter-finals.
Point Fortin Civic, in the second play-off, dispatched Police FC 4-1 on penalties after a goalless draw which included some incredible regular-time goalkeeping from Trinidad and Tobago international Adrian Foncette, who, unfortunately, was unable to rescue the lawmen in the shootout.
Civic will face North East Stars on Saturday from 3.30pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium but quarterfinal action kicks off today with a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium with Club Sando set to tackle Morvant Caledonia United from 6pm and title holders Defence Force against San Juan Jabloteh from 8pm.
The semi-finals are carded for October 20 before the competition culminates on November 3 with the final and third-place matches.
But the action kicked off in entertaining style and saw veteran midfielder Jason Marcano head the 2014 and 2015 champions Central in front on the hour mark—less than two minutes after Neil Mitchell had struck the Couva Sharks’ upright on the other end.
Rangers’ goalkeeper Cleon John had initially done well to keep out a solo attempt by Sean De Silva but Marcano, the most dangerous Central player on the night, arrived at the right time to bury the rebound.
Rangers levelled the scores 1-1 nine minutes later through substitute Josh Toussaint, who only a minute earlier had replaced Omari Lezama. But Rangers would surrender late to Tyrik John’s extra time strike.
“It wasn’t the best performance,” acknowledged coach Stern John, “but I think the team showed a lot of character. We [found] ourselves and we went one-nil (ahead). [We were] more or less bossing the game after that but against the run of play they came and score [from what] was a fifty-fifty offside call. I haven’t seen [the replay] yet but it looked like offside to me.”
Stern, whose side sits on the bottom half of the Pro League standings, said advancing to the quarterfinal presents a good opportunity for them to hunt silverware.
“(A) good opportunity for us [heading into the next round against W Connection],” said the ex-Columbus Crew, Birmingham City and Sunderland striker. “We (Central) struggle for numbers, we barely making an 11. We are down to bare bones [and] a couple injuries around. But I think it’s a great opportunity for the guys to go on and win some more games and to turn our season around.”