North East Stars put some space between themselves and the rest of the T&T Pro League teams with a convincing 3-0 win over the Defence Force at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday.
On a day in which the top three teams were in action, the Sangre Grande outfit are now on 44 points three more than defending champions CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh who were held to a 1-1 draw by two-time League champions Vibe CT W Connection at the Ato Boldon Stadium yesterday.
But the journey now starts for the championship as the management of the Pro League have introduced a new, more complicated format that sees a Top Six playoff starting Wednesday.
However, points from the three-round regular season will be carried forward to that competition that will see the six qualifiers each play an additional five league matches.
North East will carry their winning momentum into that competition.
The Jim Mc Lean-coached squad ambushed the Defence Force unit for a brief time in the first period before delivering the decisive and final blow in the last minute.
Those were the highlights of a match that also was stained by three sending-offs, that of Defence Force coaches Kerry Jamerson and Ross Russell for dissent and their defender Anton Pierre for an unnecessary and dangerous tackle on Sangre Grande's Abassi Mc Pherson.
That happened in the 65th minute after the Defence Force had grown frustrated by their own disorganised play and inability to score.
It probably was provoked further by a crunching tackle, a few minutes before, on Pierre by McPherson himself that referee Richard Piper did not deem a foul.
But it was certainly no justification for the studs-up, full pelt, tackle-on-the-ankle from behind on Mc Pherson near the left byline at the halfway mark in the full view of Piper.
Mc Pherson was left writhing and rolling in pain and Piper did not hesitate to produce the red card.
What followed was some vehement gesticulation by Pierre. That was supplemented, so-to-speak, by Jamerson's verbal assault on Piper who sent him packing too.
Defiant, Jamerson took his cool time to leave the bench and proceeded on a slow trudge to sit on the railing of the track before the fourth official requested that he leave the Mondo track and enter the covered stands of the Stadium.
Russell took over from Jamerson's barrage of words and was busily peppering Piper's ears from the Defence Force's bench with more "gun talk". Piper tolerated it for a while before dismissing him too.
Unfortunately , those incidents were the most memorable from the 'Army' team on the day.
On the field, their disorganisation in defence led to Stars' incisive midfielder Kendall Velox's well-taken opening goal, intercepting a pass, before "capping" Kurt Williams and volleying home off the upright after ten minutes.
And after Stars forward Kevin Jeffrey forced a save out of Defence Force goalkeeper Selwyn George, Jeffrey's teammate Keryn Navarro trickled a square-in after 12 minutes to send them two-up.
The Army were shell-shocked and were never allowed to settle after that by a compact North East team that was always ready to attack.
And when Ochieng Abosi sealed the game with a booming shot from a Velox square in the last minute of play, North East ensured they were going to be remembered for the right reasons.
The Defence Force's play and the behaviour of some of their members made certain that they would stand out for the wrong ones.
Yesterday's T&T Pro League results
North East Stars 3 (Kendall Velox, Keryn Navarro, Ochieng Abosi) Defence Force 0
W Connection 1 San Juan Jabloteh 1