Central FC made a winning start to their TT Premier Football League (TTPFL) campaign as they defeated W Connection 2-0 in the opening fixture at Mahaica Sports Complex in Point Fortin on Friday.
A goal in each half from strikers Akeem Roach and Keron "Ball Pest" Cummings separated the teams as W Connection struggled to place shots on target. Rustiness showed in the opening minutes as players sought to get back in groove after a three-year absence of domestic football.
The Savonetta Boys dominated the early stages but Central "The Sharks" FC soon found their footing on the dry and dusty turf. W Connection's Jordan Riley and Ronald Charles tried to create but the Central FC backline stood firm.
W Connection's Joash Baird was unable to capitalise on a free header as his effort went wide. But when Central FC got possession, they gained confidence and began to threaten the opposing defence. W Connection defender Nesean Alexander received a yellow card in the 17th minute after bringing down surging Central FC player Ricardo John, who was certain to go one-on-one with custodian Shakeem Darius if he wasn't impeded. Central FC continued to press and were soon rewarded when Roach latched on to a pass to slot past Darius into the far corner, to send the Sharks 1-0 up in the 33rd minute.
Just before halftime, Central FC's Jerrel Britto almost made it 2-0 but his spectacular overhead kick flew just overbar. At the resumption, Central FC looked a renewed unit and were presented with another chance to extend their lead after Cummings was fouled in the penalty area by defender Dwight Pope. Cummings stepped up and rifled home to take a 2-0 lead.
W Connection showed more fight in the second period but Central FC matched their aggression and strung together more passes with confidence. The Sharks' Kyle Sylvester had a good chance to send them further ahead but he was unable to find power behind his shot, after a well-threaded pass from Cummings down the right. Central FC goalie Hakeem Lucas was rarely tested. In the final minutes, Tevon De Boulet was in on goal but had his shot blocked by Darius' left foot to keep the score at 2-0. Central FC assistant coach Julius Edwards was happy to snag the three points on their return to the professional football.
"It was very important as a new team now meshing together. It was a very beautiful day for us getting this victory.
"Discipline was one of our problems in the first half and you see we came out in the second half in a better frame of mind, and we kept our shape together. "We had to make sure they didn't get back into the game because they are a very young team. We're going back to the drawing board because there were some spurts in the game where we could have done a little better," Edwards said.
Central FC play San Juan Jabloteh next and Edwards believes a different approach will have to be taken since they possess more senior players compared to W Connection.
"Jabloteh is a more experienced team so we have to switch things up a bit for them," he added. Up to press time last night, the second fixture between Club Sando and hometown favourites Point Fortin Civic Centre was still ongoing. At half time, Club Sando led 1-0. Prior to the opening kickoff, a small opening ceremony was held with some steelpan music and soca artiste Olatunji performing his 2023 hit Engine Room. Action continues on Saturday with AC Port of Spain against Defence Force at Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, from 4pm.
W Connection 0 v Central FC 2 (Akeem Roach 33, Keron Cummings 50-Pen), Mahaica Sports Complex
Point Fortin Civic 1 (Ronell Paul 78) v Club Sando 1 (Josiah Cooper 15), Mahaica Sports Complex
Saturday 11 –
AC Port of Spain vs Defence Force - 4pm, (Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar)
Sunday 12 –
Caledonia AIA vs Cunupia FC - 4pm, (Arima Velodrome)
San Juan Jabloteh vs Prisons FC - 6.30pm, (Arima Velodrome)
P W D L F A Pts
Central FC 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
Club Sando FC 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Point Fortin Civic FC 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
AC Port of Spain 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Caledonia AIA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cunupia FC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Defence Force FC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
La Horquetta Rangers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Police FC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Prison Service FC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
San Juan Jabloteh FC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
W Connection FC 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Akeem Roach (Central FC) - 1 (1-Pen) - (Became the first goal scorer in the inaugural TTPFL).
Keron Cummings (Central FC) - 1 (1-Pen)
Josiah Cooper (Club Sando FC) - 1
Ronell Paul (Point Fortin Civic FC) - 1