Akim Armstrong netted his second hat-trick in 72 hours to move second-positioned Central FC within four points of Pro League leaders W Connection with a 4-2 win over San Juan Jabloteh in the second of two Round Two Match Day Two matches contested on Friday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
The result puts pressure on Couva rivals, Connection. A loss for Connection on Saturday (today) against Club Sando at the Ato Boldon Stadium could restore the Couva Sharks’ hopes of completing a league and Cup double this season after reuniting with the First Citizens Cup last July. However a loss for Angus Eve’s men will re-establish the Savonetta Boys 7-point lead, with seven games left.
Armstrong, fresh off last Tuesday’s 6-1 win over league holders North East Stars in which himself and team captain Densill Theobald each grabbed a hat-trick, scored three times before the break with his third item restoring the Couva Sharks’ lead after Jomoul Overcome Francois and Jamal Creighton had clawed Jabloteh back.
Duane Muckette later put the match out of a topsy-turvy Jabloteh side’s reach with the only goal of the second half to complete the Stern John-coached outfit’s sixth win in the last seven outings.
Armstrong, separated by three attempts from powerful wide attacker Russel Alfred, struck in the 6th and 36th minutes from close range to beat goalkeeper Christopher Biggette following mistakes at the back by Jabloteh to cushion the three-time former league champions 2-0.
Jomoul Francois later halved the Jabloteh deficit, 1-2, in the 41st minute for his seventh league goal of the campaign after sweeping home from close range on a rebound off goalkeeper Marvin Phillip who was troubled by a shot from Creighton.
Two minutes later Creighton, who scored in the San Juan Kings 2-0 win at Point Fortin Civic last Tuesday, then levelled Keith Jeffrey’s men 2-2 with a scorcher from distance to beat Trinidad and Tobago shot-stopper, Phillip.
But Armstrong, the 30-year-old former Morvant Caledonia United and Club Sando attacker, answered back with a superb volley past Biggette with a minute left in the half to restore Central’s lead 3-2 while completing his latest hat-trick and putting his league tally this term at 10 goals – one less than Connection’s Marcus Joseph to heat up the Golden Boot chase. Police striker Kareem Freitas and Jomoul Francois are behind with 8 and 7 league goals, respectively.
Armstrong left coach John baffled seven minutes into the second half when the midfielder-turned-striker opted to square a pass across the area – which failed to meet its intended target – instead of an attempt on goal with Biggette at his mercy in an attack that started from an errant pass from a Jabloteh defender.
Muckette later capped off the 4-2 win in the 71st minute when he guided a Kaydion Gabriel cross past the frozen figure of Biggette following a patient team move by the Couva Sharks involving Theobald, Leston Paul and Alfred. Muckette redeeming himself after drilling an effort inches wide ten minutes earlier off a feed from Alfred subsequent to an unstoppable run down the right by Gabriel.
Morvant Caledonia United, in the opening game of the Mucurapo Road venue double-header, registered this season’s second highest win in all competitions after Defence Force FC’s 10-0 mauling of Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers in Round One of the league on Aug. 15, by raining an 8-0 win over cellar-placed North East Stars.
Guyana international forward Sheldon Holder (24 & 53) and his replacement after 71 minutes 19-year-old Grenada national team striker Saydrel Lewis (76 & 86) each scored twice for the Eastern Stallions on a night that also saw Kerry Daniel (6), Aikim Andrews (28), Renaldo Francois (66) and Sedale Mc Lean (93) all hit the back of the net to snap a four-game winless rot.
Morvant Caledonia with a game in hand against North East Stars, however remains seventh, ahead of, in descending order, Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers (6 points), Point Fortin Civic (5 points) and North East Stars (2 points), but with an improved 11 points after plucking just one point from their previous four games.
Also today, third-positioned Police FC (19 points) with take on Defence Force FC (17 points) from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium before Club Sando and Connection tangle from 8pm at the Couva venue. Elsewhere, Civic will host Rangers from 6pm at the Mahaica Oval.
Results - Round Two Match Day Two
North East Stars 0 vs Morvant Caledonia United 8 (Kerry Daniel 6’, Sheldon Holder 24’, 53’, Aikim Andrews 28’, Renaldo Francois 66’, Saydrel Lewis 76’, 86’, Sedale Mc Lean 90’+3), at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Jomoul Francois 41', Jamal Creighton 43') vs Central FC 4 (Akim Armstrong 6', 36', 44', Duane Muckette 71'), at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
North East Stars: 1.Glenroy Samuel (GK); 2.Jabari Brathwaite (14.Keithen Carter 27th minute), 8.Saleem Henry, 9.Kordell Samuel, 11.Kyle Bartholomew (7.Hayden Tinto 60th minute), 15.Lashawn Roberts, 20.Dareem Daniel (22.Allister Bernard 58th minute), 23.Sherwyn Williams, 24.Rakim Cabie, 27.Ross Dowden, 30.Kareem Davidson.
Unused substitutes: 21.Javon Sample (GK); 18.Josiah Daniel, 29.Stephen Punnette, 33.Terrell Roberts.
Coach: Zoran Vranes
Morvant Caledonia United: 31.Vino Barclett (GK); 4.Maurice Force, 7.Jesus Perez, 10.Sheldon Holder (13.Saydrel Lewis 71st minute), 11.Quincy Ballah (9.Sedale Mc Lean 71st minute), 14.Melvin Doxilly, 15.Malik Mieres, 17.Kerry Daniel, 19.Renaldo Francois (8.Ross Russell Jr. 78th minute), 22.Joshua Alexander, 29.Aikim Andrews.
Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK); 20.Keron Cummings, 24.Osei Charles, 28.Jomokie Sandy.
Coach: Jerry Moe
Referee: Nikolai Nyron
San Juan Jabloteh: 1.Christopher Biggette (GK); 3.Travis Joseph (17.Sean Bonval 52nd minute), 5.Kevon Villaroel, 10.Jomoul Francois (8.Jason Marcano 64th minute), 14.Tyrese Bailey, 15.Dellon Jagessar, 16.Jamal Spencer, 18.Jevon Morris, 20.Elton John (Capt.) (23.Jodel Brown 69th minute), 26.Akeem Benjamin, 27.Jamal Creighton.
Unused substitutes: 30.Shemel Louison (GK); 4.Nical Stephens, 12.Keron Bethelmy, 19.Joel Lewis.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Central FC: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 3.Ewan Grandison, 7.Hakim Baird, 8.Akim Armstrong (11.Xavier Rajpaul 64th minute), 10.Leston Paul, 12.Taryk Sampson, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 18.Densill Theobald (Capt.) (23.Andell Brown 90th minute), 19.Jared London, 22.Jameel Neptune, 24.Duane Muckette, 29.Russel Alfred (9.Tyrik John 75th minute).
Unused substitutes: 30.Zane Coker (GK); 5.Dwight Pope, 9.Tyrik John, 13.Rhondel Gibson.
Coach: Stern John
Referee: CJ O’Brien
Upcoming Fixtures - Round Two Match Day Two
(Saturday 29 September)
Police FC vs Defence Force FC, 6pm at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Club Sando vs W Connection, 8pm at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Point Fortin Civic vs Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers, 6pm at Mahaica Oval.
Round Two Match Day Three
Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers vs Defence Force FC, 6pm at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Morvant Caledonia United vs Point Fortin Civic, 8pm at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Central FC vs Club Sando, 6pm at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Police FC vs W Connection, 8pm at Ato Boldon Stadium;
North East Stars vs San Juan Jabloteh, 3:30pm at Larry Gomes Stadium.