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Marcus Joseph scored twice and set up another as two-time defending Digicel Pro League champions Central FC hammered Defence Force 4-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Friday night to record their third straight win in as many league games this season.

Conversely, in the earlier game of the Couva double-header, rivals W Connection registered their first league win after three attempts this season with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Club Sando, and are now five points adrift of leaders Central in fifth but tied on four points with, in descending order, Police, Morvant Caledonia United and St. Ann’s Rangers.

It was the dosage of confidence booster both Central and Connection were seeking ahead of their final, but insignificant, Concacaf Champions League 2016/17 group stage fixture next week against opponents of the United States’ Major League Soccer (Sporting Kansas City) and Mexico (Pumas UNAM), respectively.

Kemuel Rivers handed Sando the lead on 36 minutes against his ex-employers, beating goalkeeper Julani Archibald from the penalty spot after a handball was given against Connection captain Gerard Williams. But the southerners, like in the previous game were they lost 2-1 against Central, failed to protect the early lead while goalscorer Rivers was unable to continue beyond 30 seconds into the second half after pulling out injured.

Connection were level five minutes after the break when forward Shackiel Henry smashed a right-footer beyond the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Kelvin Henry for his first Savonetta Boys goal since joining the club from Point Fortin Civic ahead of the season.

Sando then gave it completely away after allowing Connection’s Grenada international forward Jamal Charles to run unchallenged for almost 70 yards down the middle on a counter attack, before smashing a right-footed strike beyond goalkeeper Henry and into the back of the net for his second league goal this season.

Connection’s St. Kitts/Nevis international goalkeeper Archibald, who along with international teammate Gerard Williams returned to the starting line-up following international duty in Gold Cup qualifiers, later preserved his side’s lead with an all-important save two minutes from time to deny Akeem Roach, who had two earlier near misses for Sando.

However it was business as usual for the DPL leaders Central, coming off league wins against W Connection and Sando.

Joseph fired the Couva Sharks ahead on 13 minutes, hitting off the base of the upright to score past goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke after controlling off his chest a classy outside-the-boot feed over the top by midfielder Sean De Silva.

Jason Marcano then gave Central a 2-0 cushion two minutes from the half with a scorcher from the right side. Marcano’s strike was unmatched by Clarke after the winger controlled off his chest, a deep cross from the left by Joseph, before having an early go at goal beyond left-back Aklie Edwards.

Substitute Hashim Arcia reduced the Defence Force deficit 1-2 eleven minutes into the second half, hitting low past goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams after linking-up with Devorn Jorsling inside the area.

But it wasn’t the same fighting performance that saw the Army push this season’s curtaining-raising Digicel Charity Shield into a penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw last September, although losing on kicks against Central.

Defence Force found themselves deeper in trouble when Marcus Joseph completed his double from the penalty spot for a 3-1 Central lead after he was brought down in the area by defender Rodell Elcock on the hour mark.

Central midfielder and captain Darren Mitchell, off a feed from Keston George following an entertaining team move, then rounded off the scoring in stoppage-time for the 4-1 win with a composed finish past Clarke, who had moments before denied Marcano a second. Mitchell, with 5 goals from four games in all domestic competitions, has scored in every league game for the Couva Sharks, including the Charity Shield which Central defended.

Sean Narcis had struck high and wide with the Central goal at his mercy on the half hour mark in what could have affected the course of the game. The veteran midfielder got closer in the second half with a headed attempt put over by ‘keeper Williams and a volleyed attempt overbar, but goals mattered at the final whistle and Central had more of it.

Digicel Pro League 2016/17
Round One Match Day Three
(Friday’s results)
W Connection 2 (Shackiel Henry 50’, Jamal Charles 70’) vs Club Sando 1 (Kemuel Rivers 36’ penalty), at Ato Boldon Stadium;

Central FC 4 (Marcus Joseph 13’, 61’ penalty, Jason Marcano 43’, Darren Mitchell 90’+1) vs Defence Force 1 (Hashim Arcia 56’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Upcoming fixtures
Round One Match Day Three
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Morvant Recreation Ground, Park Street, Morvant
Morvant Caledonia United vs San Juan Jabloteh—4pm

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Ato Boldon Stadium
Ma Pau Stars vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6pm
Point Fortin Civic vs Police FC—8pm

Teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Friday

Game 1
W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams (Capt.), 4.Maurice Ford (Yellow Card), 9.Shackiel Henry (46.Anfernee Frederick 90th minute), 12.Anselm Jackson (Yellow Card), 14.Andre Toussaint, 17.Aikim Andrews (11.Neil Benjamin Jr. 81st minute), 20.Jamal Charles (37.Daniel Diaz 81st minute), 23.Kevon Goddard, 27.Jelani Peters.

Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 8.Briel Thomas, 21.Ronell Paul, 28.Mickell Charles.

Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier

Club Sando: 34.Kelvin Henry (GK), 5.Nical Stephens, 6.Kemuel Rivers (23.Nicolas Thomas 47th minute), 7.Akeem Humphrey (Capt.), 8.Kevon Piper (21.Sharkeel Donatien 81st minute), 9.Keron Cornwall, 13.Akeem Roach (Yellow Card), 18.Trevin Latapy, 19.Leslie Russell, 27.Jayson Joseph (11.Joel Kevin Lewis 74th minute), 29.Keithy Simpson (Yellow Card)

Unused substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 15.Kaashif Thomas, 16.Anderson Toussaint, 17.Jared London

Coach: Angus Eve

Referee: Rashby Mc Phie
Assistant Referee 1: Caleb Wales
Assistant Referee 2: Glen Kevin Charles
Fourth Official: Dennis Changiah

Game 2
Central FC: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 3.Keion Goodridge, 4.Andre Ettienne, 5.Keston George, 6.Leston Paul, 7.Jason Marcano, 8.Sean De Silva (17.Johan Peltier 76th minute), 11.Darren Mitchell (Capt.), 19.Nathan Garcia (Yellow Card), 24.Kevon Villaroel, 99.Marcus Joseph.

Unused substitutes: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 2.Glenn Sutton, 10.Keron Cummings, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 26.Mickaeel Jem Gordon.

Coach: Dale Saunders

Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 3.Jamali Garcia, 6.Rodell Elcock, 9.Devorn Jorsling, 13.Marvin Jones, 17.Curtis Gonzales, 18.Sean Narcis, 21.Aklie Edwards (8.Christopher Durity 73rd minute), 23.Kerry Joseph (19.Thurlani George 79th minute) (Yellow Card), 26.Justin Garcia (10.Hashim Arcia 46th minute), 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.).

Unused substitutes: 1.Andre Marchan (GK), 2.Glynn Franklyn, 5.Devin Jordan, 15.Brandon Fountain.

Coach: Marvin Gordon

Referee: Crystal Sobers
Assistant Referee 1: Glen Kevin Charles
Assistant Referee 2: Oladele Thomas
Fourth Official: Cecile Hinds