Kerry Baptiste has entered his new lease on life at North East Stars with four goals in two games, with his latest a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Police FC at the Larry Gomes Stadium on Sunday.
North East Stars, now with 29 points, moved into fifth position on the Digicel Pro League standings by leapfrogging Police (27 points), who must face third-positioned W Connection in a rescheduled fixture from 8pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Wednesday March 9.
Baptiste, the second highest scorer in the history of the Pro League behind Defence Force’s Devorn Jorsling, was a rarely used forward at defending league champions Central FC—the club he joined at the start of the season—but is already making an impact with his former side North East Stars since joining in the January/February transfer window.
Baptiste had one goal to his name for Central this season, netting the final item of a 4-0 win in stoppage-time against Club Sando in the semi-final round of the Toyota Classic last October. But on Sunday, he brought back memories of 2009—the year he helped Joe Public capture five major titles including the Pro League crown and and FA Trophy while becoming the highest scorer of a season in the Pro League.
Baptiste netted the Stars opening and closing items in the 5-2 win against the "Lawmen".
The 34-year-old overlooked Trinidad and Tobago international put North East Stars ahead on 12 minutes with a trademark finish, placing the ball beyond goalkeeper Adrian Foncette from just inside the area after latching onto a defence-splitting pass from Anthony Wolfe.
Gorean Highley made it 2-0 three minutes before the break after a blunder by Foncette. Foncette, in an attempted clearance after some indecisiveness by his defence, crashed the ball into the body of Highley inside the area and the Stars forward spared no mercy in hitting past the Police goalie after some adjustments.
If that wasn’t enough to spill over the frustrations of coach Richard Hood as Police were guilty of wasting chances, another giveaway by Police midfielder and captain Todd Ryan eight minutes inside the second period offered Highley a look on goal from 24 yards out with Foncette off his line. However Highley struck high in his attempt to lob the Police goalie.
Baptiste was clinical again with his second goal of the game to put North East Stars 3-0 up by hitting past Foncette off substitute Reon Moore’s right side cross in the 70th-minute.
Six minutes later Moore, a former member of the North East Stars youth teams, made it 4-0 when he grabbed his first senior team goal for the Stars by placing the ball into Foncette’s far bottom corner after dribbling off two defenders.
Stars’ transfer window goalkeeping signing, former T&T youth player Glenroy Samuel, was brilliant with a number of shutouts until the 79th-minute when Police substitute Dylon King pulled a goal back from just in the area.
But Baptiste, following some neat exchanges inside the area, completed his hat-trick with another class finish to make it 5-1.
Police would find another goal though, to end the game 5-2, when Makesi Lewis for his 15th league goal at the top of the scorer’s list this season, hit off the underside of the crossbar to beat Samuel from substitute Jameel Perry’s cross.
Police, however, must improve quickly if they are to get a positive result against W Connection on Wednesday and snap their two-game losing form.
North East Stars 5 (Kerry Baptiste 12’, 70’, 89’, Gorean Highley 43’, Reon Moore 76’) vs Police FC 2 (Dylon King 79’, Makesi Lewis 90’+2)
North East Stars: 32.Glenroy Samuel; 3.Kion Joseph, 5.Ryan Stewart, 8.Anthony Guppy (7.Kerry Daniel 74th minute), 9.Gorean Highley (2.Reon Moore 65th minute), 19.Glenton Wolfe, 21.Neil Mitchell (24.Adrian Noel 74th minute), 25.Keryn Navarro (Capt.), 26.Anthony Wolfe, 29.Hakim Baird, 40.Kerry Baptiste
Unused substitutes: 22.Cleon John (GK), 4.Jesus Perez, 14.Chike Sullivan,
Coach: Ross Russell
Police FC: 1.Adrian Foncette; 5.Anton Hutchinson, 6.Jibri Mc David, 29.Clevon Mc Fee (32.Akile Thomas 74th minute), 9.Makesi Lewis, 10.Kareem Freitas, 14.Kaaron Foster, 19.Christon Thomas, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 21.Todd Ryan (Capt.) (15.Jameel Perry 65th minute) 26.Kadeem Riley (30.Dylon King 71st minute)
Unused substitutes: 2.Jasimar Ashers, 8.Kurdell Brathwaite, 16.Keon Wilson, 22.Kern Caesar
Coach: Richard Hood
Match Referee: Keon Yorke