Led by a pair of goals from striker Richard Roy, Defence Force registered an emphatic 5-2 win over Caledonia AIA to lift the Digicel Pro Bowl on Thursday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The soldiers avoided a third straight Final defeat against Caledonia this season having lost the Finals of the FA Trophy and Lucozade Sport Goal Shield against the Morvant/Laventille club.
Roy, very aware that a top drawer performance was needed in his team’s final match on the TT Pro League calendar, found the back of the net twice in the first half while teammates Ross Russell Jr., substitute Glynn Franklyn and Jerwyn Balthazar picked up a goal each.
Roy shared the Most Goals award with Russell Jr., both having four (4) goals each in the tournament, but stood alone with the MVP award during the presentation.
Roy was a threat from early hammering just wide of the upright from a set piece early into the match, and in the 26th minute he drove a low shot a couple feet away from the same left upright.
And in the same 26th minute the Ross Russell coached Defence Force picked up its opening item for a 1-0 score when Roy turned brilliantly inside the area and whipped a shot past Caledonia's Jamaican goalie Kevin Graham.
Caledonia then leveled the scores 1-1 from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute when right wingback Kareem Joseph buried the ball into the roof of the net against Defence Force goalie Kevin Graham who ironically carries the same name as his opposite number.
It was from a foul by Devin Jordan against Walter Moore inside the area that referee Neil Brizan awarded Caledonia the penalty.
But Roy responded in the 45th minute when he turned his marker and slipped a shot past Graham for a 2-1 advantage ending a brilliant play from the soldiers with midfielder Curtis Gonzales the provider by slipping a neat pass to the ace forward.
The Soldiers then made it 3-1 with a stunning item seconds inside the second period in which Ross Russell Jr. blasted a left footed strike past Caledonia’s Graham.
Caledonia meantime needed someone more than former Defence Force ace, Devorn Jorsling upfront as the forward was limited to just a shot across the face of goal minutes into the match.
Coach Jamaal Shabazz introduced speedy Trevin Caesar by replacing Sheldon Holder at the break and the Tobagonian made a huge impact for the Morvant/Laventille club which leaves for the Cayman Islands on Friday for upcoming Caribbean Union Football Union Second Round Group Four matches from May 20-24.
Ceasar was just too high in the 55th minute from distance but made no mistake in the 69th minute blasting into an exposed net from close range on the right to reduce the deficit 2-3.
Caesar was alive on the end of a pass inside the area after the intended target, Jorsling, was bundled to the ground at the edge of the six yard area.
However it was far from a comeback by Caledonia, also winners of the First Citizens Cup, attempting its fourth title this season.
Defence Force added a fourth item in the 81st minute when substitute Glynn Franklyn towered inside the area to powerfully head in a freekick by another substitute Kerry Joseph for a 4-2 score.
And in the 90th minute teammate Jerwyn Balthazar finally got his name on the scoresheet by smashing a powerful shot past a hapless Graham for a 5-2 Defence Force.
It was a much deserved item for Balthazar who was denied by Graham in the 25th and 29th minutes, and also spilled just overbar from distance in the 51st minute.
Caledonia AIA 2--5 Defence Force
Kareem Joseph 33'(pen), Trevin Caesar 69' ; Richard Roy 26', 45', Ross Russell Jr. 46', Glynn Franklyn 81', Jerwyn Balthazar 90'+
Caledonia AIA—Kevin Graham(gk), Stephan David(capt.), Abdallah Phillip(Conrod Smith 73rd), Sheldon Holder(Trevin Caesar 46th), Colin Nelson, Cornelius Stewart(Trayon Bobb 65th), Keyon Edwards, Kareem Joseph, Walter Moore(yellow card), Kemron Purcell, Devorn Jorsling
Defence Force—Kevin Graham(gk), Jahvon Neptune(capt.)(Kerry Joseph 61st), Rodell Elcock, Aklie Edwards(yellow card), Devin Jordan(yellow card), Ross Russell Jr.(Michael Edwards 80th), Curtis Gonzales, Marvin Jones, Josimar Belgrave(Glynn Franklyn 75th), Richard Roy, Jerwyn Balthazar