Million dollar Pro League title has new twist: Defence Force move 4 points within W Connection

Central routs Police 4-1 but virtually out of title race

Defence Force players celebrate a goal during the 2013/2014 Digicel Pro League. The army/coastguard combination are after a third Pro League title in four seasons after lifting the 2010/2011 and 2012/2013 titles under present coach Ross Russell.
Defending Digicel Pro League champions Defence Force seems to be staging what could turn out a remarkable come-from-behind this season to retain the title and take away the one million dollars winners cash prize in tow.

On Tuesday night the army/coastguard combination moved 4 points within longstanding leaders W Connection (45 points) after holding off a tricky bottom of the table St. Ann’s Rangers side 2-1 in the first match of a rescheduled Round Three Match Day Five double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

And by the end of the second match, in which Central FC thumped Police FC 4-1, the “Sharks” also taking their tally to 41 points, moved into second position because of much a better goal-difference.

However Central FC, this season’s First Citizens Cup winners, who will take on W Connection in the Final of the 2014 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield (LSGS) on Friday 25 April from 8 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, are virtually out of the League title race with just two matches left against San Juan Jabloteh (May 6) and St. Ann’s Rangers (May 13).

Meanwhile a win for the third positioned Defence Force against sixth positioned Caledonia AIA in a rescheduled Round Three Match Day Four fixture from 6 pm on Friday, preceding the LSGS Final at the Ato Boldon Stadium, could push the Ross Russell coached-outfit within one point of Connection, before tackling the “Savonnetta Boys” back-to-back on May 4 and 6, and ending against Jabloteh on May 13.

After facing the defending champions on May 4 and 6, W Connection, winners of this season’s Digicel Charity Shield, Toyota Classic and FA Trophy, will wrap up its League matches against Caledonia on May 13.

Despite being without the services of ace forward Devorn Jorsling – due to a hamstring injury – for a second consecutive match and doubtful for another week and a half, Defence Force got second half goals through Kerry Joseph and substitute Josimar Belgrave to guarantee maximum points against the evidently improved Rangers, under caretaker Anthony Streete.

Belgrave, who replaced forward Richard Roy at the break, made the difference in attack and was inches shy of opening the scoring seconds after the restart.

Belgrave’s header off a Curtis Gonzales cross, crashed off the crossbar, and from the rebound, Rangers were forced to play the ball behind.

Then from the resulting corner swung in by Keston Williams, Joseph dived in to head past goalkeeper Akel Clarke for a 1-0 advantage but injured his nose in the process and was replaced by promising wide right-midfield talent, Akeem Roach.

Then on the 73rd minute, Belgrave, who blasted overbar six minutes earlier, was brilliant by wriggling off his marker above the area before turning and hitting out of Clarke’s reach and into the roof of the net for a 2-0 cushion and his 8th League goal of the season, one less than Jorsling (9 goals).

But Rangers, who had a penalty shout in stoppage-time, had pulled back a goal in the 76th minute for the 1-2 deficit.

Kennedy Isles slipped the ball low past goalkeeper Kevin Graham on the second bite after the Defence Force custodian made a spill of Kevin Carter’s strike from distance.

In the second match Central trailed earlier when striker Aaron Stewart handed Police a 1-0 lead by the 3rd minute when his deflected blast from 24 yards out had left a fully sprawled goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams beaten.

Police goalkeeper Adrian Foncette then preserved his side’s one goal advantage with a penalty save against Ataullah Guerra in the 17th minute after defender Jasimar Ashers had clipped Rundell Winchester to ground inside the area and forcing referee Gyasi Mc Donald to point to the spot.

But by the 26th minute a low laser from 25 yards out by Guerra was unmatched by Foncette as it fitted just inside the left upright to level the score 1-1 and what was the start of an impressive comeback.
Central FC forward Willis Plaza, left, during Digicel Pro League action against Point Fortin Civic. Plaza scored a double against Police on Tuesday for his 11th and 12th League goals this year. He will be in action against W Connection on Friday 25 April in the Final of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield from 8 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium
Then from a pass forward by Rundell Winchester down the left, Central striker Plaza showed incredible pace to overtake Ashers before he zigged past the defender, then goalkeeper Foncette, to hit into an open net for a 2-1 Central advantage on the half hour mark.

The Trinidad and Tobago international then made it 3-1 with his 12th League goal this term on the 50th minute when he did well to follow-up for a simple tap in after Foncette had made an initial block on his first effort after taking control of a Jason Marcano cross inside the area.

The chance of a comeback by Police became slimmer by the 65th minute when a direct red card out of Mc Donald’s back pocket directed defender Anton Hutchinson to the tunnel following a foul on speedy Winchester near the touchline.

Foncette was later forced to make saves denying a strike from distance by Akeem Benjamin and from close up by substitute Dwight Quintero in the 68th minute as Police, who forced a diving save out of Williams two minutes before the break through an ambitious Clevon Mc Fee attempt, failed to avoid conceding another item.

Central substitute midfielder Darren Mitchell wrapped up the scoring in style for a 4-1 finish with a solo run in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time, slipping past three Policemen along the way before hitting low past Foncette.

Digicel Pro League 2013/2014
Rescheduled Round Three Match Day Five results
Defence Force FC 2—0 St. Ann’s Rangers
Kerry Joseph 48’, Josimar Belgrave 73’  ;  Kennedy Isles 76’

Central FC 4—1 Police FC
Aaron Stewart 3’  ;  Ataullah Guerra 26’, Willis Plaza 30’, 50’, Darren Mitchell 90’+5

Force FC—1. Kevin Graham (GK), 3. Keston Williams (C), 4. Dave Long, 6. Rodell Elcock, 8. Curtis Gonzales, 13. Marvin Jones, 15. Jerwyn Balthazar, 17. Ross Russell Jr., 21. Aklie Edwards (7. Balondemu Julius 77th minute), 23. Kerry Joseph (31. Akeem Roach 52nd minute), 26. Richard Roy (10. Josimar Belgrave 46th minute)

Unused substitutes—5. Devin Jordan, 14. Corey Rivers, 18. Sean Narcis, 25. Sheldon Clarke (GK)

Coach—Ross Russell

St. Ann’s Rangers—1. Akel Clarke (GK) (C), 4. Jelani Peters (12. Tevin Gilkes 71st minute), 10. Kennedy Isles, 16. Keron Alexander (26. Josh Toussaint 60th minute), 28. Kadeem Corbin, 32. Joshua Sylvester (14. Michael Yaw Darko 79th minute), 33. Isaiah Mc Intyre, 41. Kevin Carter, 44. Sedale Mc Lean, 49. Chad Clinton, 51. Keron Cornwall

Unused substitutes—20. Dillon Abraham, 22. Christopher Biggette (GK), 23. Trevin Latapy, 39. Shaquille Moses

Coach—Anthony Streete

Match Referee—Cecil Hinds

Central FC—21. Jan Michael Williams (GK), 10. Marvin Oliver (C) (Yellow Card) (13. Johan Peltier 80th minute), 45. Ataullah Guerra, 1. Willis Plaza (9. Dwight Quintero 52nd minute), 2. Elton John, 3. Keion Goodridge, 6. Leston Paul, 7. Jason Marcano (11. Darren Mitchell 69th minute), 17. Rundell Winchester, 24. Akeem Benjamin, 50. Johance Marshall (Yellow Card)

Unused substitutes—25. Javon Sample (GK), 4. Sean de Silva, 22. Keon Trim, 27. Samuel Delice

Coach—Terry Fenwick

Police FC—18. Adrian Foncette (GK), 21. Todd Ryan (C), 2. Jasimar Ashers, 5. Anton Hutchinson (Red Card), 10. Trent Noel, 17. Dexter Alleyne (Yellow Card), 20. Elijah Belgrave, 24. Ariei Mc David, 26. Wendell Joseph, 29. Clevon Mc Fee, 22. Aaron Stewart (12. Vernell Ramirez 52nd minute)

Unused substitutes—34.  Theon Browne (GK), 39. Joel Kevin Lewis, 33. Kurdell Brathwaite, 23. LJ Akeem Mitchell

Coach—Richard Hood

Match Referee—Gyasi Mc Donald