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Defending league champions Defence Force, relatively fresh from their disappointing Caribbean Club Championship group stage exit earlier this week in Jamaica, returned to domestic competition with a 2-0 win over North East Stars on Saturday at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Coach Ross Russell's side, twice, took advantage of errors at the back by the Stars to score on either side of the half, through goals by Jerwyn Balthazar and Devorn Jorsling, and now with a mathematical chance, joins four other clubs in chase of the title.
Longstanding Digicel Pro League leaders DIRECTV W Connection (42 points), despite dropping points in recent games, are still favourites to lift this season’s crown and the million dollar cash prize that comes with it.
In relentless chase of the “Savonnetta Boys” are bitter town-rivals and second positioned Central FC (35 points), while Point Fortin Civic and North East Stars follow in third and fourth respectively with 33 points.
But although Defence Force moved up a spot in fifth with 29 points and four matches in hand, the chances of retaining the title are still unlikely prospects at this stage.
Midfielder Balthazar fired the Soldiers ahead in the 17th minute against the Stars, hooking a strike past goalkeeper Cleon John from inside the area to put the score 1-0 after the defence failed to clear a Marvin Jones' corner which was knocked down by Keston Williams.
The Stars, undefeated in eight previous games, were lucky not to conceded in the 10th minute when Devorn Jorsling poked over-bar from the six-yard area after Jemel Sebro’ cross took an awkward touch off Ross Russell Jr.’s boot.
Three minutes later Sebro’s effort from close up off a Marvin Jones corner which the defence failed to clear, was miraculously kept out by John.
John was called upon again in the 36th minute of the rescheduled Round Three Match Day Three contest with a low gather on Jorsling’s left-footed strike from above the area.
Stars’ head coach Angus Eve responded with a double chance at the restart, replacing defender Jesus Perez with midfielder Kaashif Thomas and midfielder Chike Sullivan with striker Lemuel Lyons and enjoyed a much better showing in the second half.
But when a terrible goal-kick by John gifted Jorsling the ball in the 68th minute some 22 yards out, it was all over for the Sangre Grande outfit.
Jorsling’s broad figure went airborne, controlling the ball with his chest before running into the area and slipping the ball through the legs of the onrushing John for a 2-0 score.
Lyons, who struck the side netting in the 58th minute, was closer in the 71st minute but was denied pulling back a goal by goalkeeper Kevin Graham’s diving save.
The Stars substitute tried again in the 86th minute with a sliced effort from above the area and was just wide of the upright.
But North East Stars suffered another blow in stoppage time when striker Trevin Caesar was shown a direct red card by referee Michael London for seemed abusive language towards second assistant Kevin Lewis. A blow which will definitely affect Eve's Round Three Match Day Six plans as the league title race peaks.
On Tuesday action continues with two rescheduled matches at the Ato Boldon Stadium when Caledonia AIA meets Police FC in a rescheduled Round Three Match Day Three fixture from 6 pm, and from 8 pm Defence Force and Point Fortin Civic will meet in a Round Two Match Day Seven clash.
North East Stars 0—2 Defence Force
Jerwyn Balthazar 17', Devorn Jorsling 68'
North East Stars—22. Cleon John (GK) (C), 7. Elijah Manners, 12. Jayson Joseph, 15. Chike Sullivan (11. Lemuel Lyons 46th minute), 19. Glenton Wolfe, 20. Trevin Caesar (Yellow Card), 23. Kennedy Hinkson, 25. Keryn Navarro, 8. Keron Cummings (16. Franz Husbands 81st minute), 48. Jesus Perez (18. Kaashif Thomas 46th minute), 6. Jeromie Williams
Unused substitutes—1. Stephan Berkeley (GK), 9. Akiel Guevara, 40. Jomoul Francis, 41. Neveal Hackshaw
Defence Force—1. Kevin Graham (GK), 12. Jemel Sebro, 13. Marvin Jones, 9. Devorn Jorsling, 26. Richard Roy (18. Sean Narcis 64th minute), 17. Ross Russell Jr., 4. Dave Long (Yellow Card) (7. Balondemu Julius 86th minute), 21. Aklie Edwards (23. Kerry Joseph 64th minute), 8. Curtis Gonzales (Yellow Card), 3. Keston Williams (C), 15. Jerwyn Balthazar
Unused substitutes—25. Sheldon Clarke (GK), 10. Josimar Belgrave, 6. Rodell Elcock, 5. Devin Jordan
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