North East Stars improved their psychological advantage on challengers W Connection with a 6-0 hammering of cellar-placed MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers on Tuesday afternoon to stretch their lead at the top of the Pro League 2017 standings to nine points with just three games left.
Rundell Winchester, with his ninth league goal this season, Densill Theobald, Kevon Villaroel, Akeem Garcia and Jomoul Francois each got their names on the scoresheet while an own goal credited to Rangers’ defender Shane Sandy assisted in the hosts impressive result at the Arima Velodrome.
The Stars, now with one hand on the Pro League crown, are 36 points at the summit, while Connection (27 points) and Club Sando (25 points) – both with a game in hand after their fixtures against San Juan Jabloteh (Barataria Oval) and Police FC (Hasely Crawford Stadium training field) respectively on Tuesday were postponed due to waterlogged pitches – occupy second and third positions, respectively.
“We haven’t won yet,” said Stars head coach Derek King. “but we are in a good position to win the league three more games left. There are a couple make-up games for other teams but we are responsible for our destiny, and the main concentration right now is to keep our guys focused.”
King, who commended his players for the team’s league form, said: “There were the disappointments in the FA Trophy and First Citizens Cup, but our players have maintained good vibes in the league, which has always been our main focus this season to go on and represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Caribbean Club Championship then hopefully onto CONCACAF.”
King also said North East Stars were not spared by the current financial crisis faced across the league, and by extension the country, but praised owner Darryl Mahabir’s commitment and honesty to the team. “We have built more than just a team with good experience and youth this season, we have built a family at North East Stars.”
The Stars, undefeated at the Arima Velodrome with six wins and one draw, will welcome Club Sando at the iconic venue next Tuesday in search of three more points and a seventh straight league win. King believes it won’t be a walk in the park.
“We expect a very tough game against Club Sando,” said the Stars’ coach.
“They have everything to play for with the available CONCACAF (qualifiers) spot. They are a quality team, with quality players that can produce goals.”
Central FC, the three-time Pro League holders, edged Morvant Caledonia United 3-2 to hurdle the Eastern Stallions and Jabloteh for fifth position on Tuesday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium main field, despite torrential downpours affecting the Barataria Oval and Hasely Crawford Stadium training field.
Sheldon Holder scored his second league double in eight days for Morvant Caledonia, but the Guyana international forward’s strikes in the 9th and 75th minutes weren’t enough against the Couva Sharks.
Morvant Caledonia’s early lead was cancelled out by an own goal credited to Ghanaian defender Maestro Mensah on 11 minutes before Kaydion Gabriel handed Central the lead on half hour. Then with eight minutes left, Jason Marcano snatched the Central winner after Holder had completed his double to level the hosts.
Later on at Mahaica Oval, fourth-positioned Defence Force (24 points) edged hosts Point Fortin Civic to a 1-0 in a dress rehearsal of Friday’s First Citizens Cup 2017 semi-final clash.
Jerome Mc Intryre’s debut goal for the Army/Coast Guard combination earned coach Marvin Gordon’s side full points and a boost in confidence ahead of their First Citizens Cup semi-final one date with Civic from 6pm on Friday at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Club Sando are against seven-time champions W Connection in semi-final two from 8pm.