Defence Force take home Rawle Fletcher trophy in style

Defence Force crush Caledonia 8-0 to take home Rawle Fletcher trophy

Balthazar and Seecharan star as Army bombard Caledonia

Defence Force midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar (right) in action against Morvant Caledonia United this season.
Saturday 09 January 2016

Jerwyn Balthazar scored an early hattrick to inspire an invincible Defence Force performance as they crushed Morvant Caledonia United 8-0 on Friday night to secure the Army/Coast Guard combination’s maiden Rawle Fletcher trophy.

The Rawle Fletcher (Round One) trophy, along with the Akeem Adams (Round Two) and Kevon Carter (Round Three) trophies were introduced last season in honour of the late players, while increasing the level of competition throughout the Digicel Pro League championship.

Central FC made a clean sweep last season, winning every round en route to lifting the league championship.

But on Friday night, with full points at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in their third consecutive league win, the Marvin Gordon coached-Defence Force maintained their position at the summit of the current 2015-16 standings with an unassailable 20 points from Round One to secure the Rawle Fletcher trophy this time around.

The result dashed the hopes of second position Police FC (15 points) and third positioned Central FC (14 points), who must tackle Point Fortin Civic and St. Ann’s Rangers, respectively, today (Saturday) in their final Round One fixture.

Earlier this week, Gordon said his side will use every available cannon in the artillery to secure the Round One trophy in honour of their former teammate and soldier Rawle Fletcher.

Fletcher, who played as a defender and had attained the rank of lance corporal, was one of three people, including his best friend businessman Mitra Maharaj and 19-year-old Anil Diram, killed in a drive-by shooting in Couva in December 2013. Fletcher was age 34.

Despite being without scoring ace Devorn Jorsling, due to injury, while forward Richard Roy was used off the bench in the final 30 minutes, Defence Force were blazing all guns against the ninth positioned Caledonia from early on and had an excellent chance to take the lead inside the second minute of play.

But Balthazar headed wide from the edge of the six-yard area after meeting a well-placed Curtis Gonzales cross.

Defence Force midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar (bottom row, second from left) and his teammates.

However Balthazar would redeemed himself by bagging his hattrick within a space of 11 minutes and Defence Force were well in control for full points and the title in honour of Fletcher.

Balthazar, wearing the armband, led brilliantly from attacking midfield, but generally, it was a passionate team effort from Gordon’s side.

Balthazar gave Defence Force a deserving 1-0 lead on 10 minutes with a glancing header at the near post to put a Kishun Seecharan corner past rookie Caledonia goalie Deandre Villaroel.

Villaroel, who also stood between the sticks in Tuesday’s 3-0 league loss at Club Sando, had no idea he was in for a nightmare, while Caledonia’s first choice goalie Marvin Phillip was an unused substitute in Trinidad and Tobago’s 1-0 loss against Haiti in the Copa America Centenario play-in in Panama on Friday night.

Villaroel was beaten again after in the 14th minute when a 25-yard Balthazar free-kick to a deflection in the box before entering the back of the net for a 2-0 Defence Force cushion.

Balthazar then completed his hattrick from the penalty spot for a 3-0 advantage on 21 minutes after Ross Russell Jr. was upended in the Caledonia box by defender Antonio Joseph, forcing referee Crystal Sobers to point to the spot.

Defence Force teammates Rodell Elcock (left) and Curtis Gonzales.

The lopsided affair continued and Defence Force grabbed three more, through defender Rodell Elcock, midfielder Sean Narcis and winger Seecharan, for a 6-0 score into the break.

Elcock’s header off a Gonzales corner clipped the underside of the crossbar before entering the Caledonia net on 25 minutes.

Then a quick exchange between Balthazar and Seecharan and a feed from the latter resulted in Narcis scoring from close range just over the half hour mark.

Seecharan, who created havoc for Caledonia, added a goal to his two assists on the night, when a ball over the top by Balthazar on the stroke of halftime was met by the teenager who controlled in the area before firing low past Villaroel.

The misery didn’t stop there for Caledonia, who even stood without 2006 World Cup midfielder Densill Theobald, who will depart on Monday for his third spell in the India I-League but first with Sporting Clube de Goa.

Despite some early second half resistance by Caledonia, Defence Force got to their seventh goal 10 minutes after the restart when Ross Russell Jr. rounded Villaroel before strolling the ball into the net.

Forward Kellon Serrette, who was denied by the offside flag in the first half, completed the 8-0 Defence Force win with a minute left in regular time as Caledonia slumped to their sixth straight loss in all competitions.

In the second game of the Port-of-Spain double-header on Friday night, substitute Brent Sam rescued San Juan Jabloteh to a 2-2 draw while denying visiting North East Stars and their debuting coach, Ross Russell a victory.

San Juan Jabloteh forward Brent Sam (right).

Jabloteh grabbed the lead inside 2 minutes of play through winger Kennedy Hinkson.

Fullback Caleb Sturge whipped in a telling cross which was knocked into the path of Hinkson by Jamal Gay, and Hinkson, who evaded his challenger, struck past goalkeeper Cleon John from the edge of the six-yard area.

But a spectacular left-footed volley from Gorean ‘Ratty’ Highley, off a deep Rickel Dickson cross, beat goalkeeper Shemel Louison to level the score 1-1 on 24 minutes.

Coach Russell, who was sacked a month ago by defending league champions Central, saw his new side take the lead through a Neil Mitchell deflected strike on 64 minutes.

Finally an instinctive flick off the boot of substitute Sam when he met a diagonal Keyon Edwards feed with 2 minutes left in regular-time, saw Jabloteh level the score 2-2.

Digicel Pro League 2015-16
Friday’s Round One Match Day Nine results at the Hasely Crawford Stadium
Defence Force 8
 (Jerwyn Balthazar 10’, 14’, 21’, Rodell Elcock 26’, Sean Narcis 34’, Kishun Seecharan 45’, Ross Russell Jr. 55’, Kellon Serrette 89’) vs Morvant Caledonia United 0

San Juan Jabloteh 2 
(Kennedy Hinkson 2’, Brent Sam 88’) vs North East Stars 2 (Gorean Highley 24’, Neil Mitchell 64’)

Remaining Round One Match Day Nine fixtures
Saturday 9 January 2016
Larry Gomes Stadium

Police FC vs Point Fortin Civic—3:30 pm

Ato Boldon Stadium
Central FC vs St. Ann’s Rangers—5 pm
Club Sando vs W Connection—7 pm

Teams at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday night
Game 1

Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 2.Glynn Franklyn, 6.Rodell Elcock, 8.Curtis Gonzales, 16.Kellon Serette, 17.Ross Russell Jr., 18.Sean Narcis (26.Richard Roy 68th minute), 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.) (23.Kerry Joseph 73rd minute), 21.Aklie Edwards, 4.Dave Long (13.Marvin Jones 60th minute), 30.Kishun Seecharan

Unused substitutes: 3.Jamali Garcia, 7.Jelani Felix, 12.Jemel Sebro, 80.Aaron Enill (GK) 

Coach: Marvin Gordon

Morvant Caledonia United: 33.Deandre Villaroel (GK), 4.Ordell Flemming, 6.Marcus Ambrose (26.Triffon Browne 30th minute), 10.Sheldon Holder, 11.Abdallah Phillips, 12.Kareem Joseph, 13.Kyle Bartholomew (7.Stephan David 46th minute), 15.Otev Lawrence, 16.Antonio Joseph (17.Akim Armstrong 59th minute), 22.Jameel Neptune, 28.Pernell Schultz 

Unused substitutes: 3.Ronaldo Bailey, 8.Anthony Charles, 24.Gregory President, 29.Kareem Knights

Coach: Jerry Moe

Game 2
San Juan Jabloteh: 30.Shemel Louison (GK), 10.Tyrone Charles (9.Brent Sam 62nd minute), 8.Keyon Edwards, 7.Jamal Gay, 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 18.Jevon Morris, 27.Nathan Lewis, 21.Aquil Selby, 22.Caleb Sturge, 16.Kaashif Thomas, 4.Garth Thomas (14.Sean Bonval 90th minute)

Unused substitutes: 36.Raheem Belgrave (GK), 3.Lincoln Burns, 12.Jordan Devonish

Coach: Keith Jeffrey

North East Stars: 22.Cleon John (GK), 2.Garvin Samaroo (40.Jomoul Francois 36th minute), 3.Rickel Dickson, 9.Gorean Highley, 14.Chike Sullivan, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 21.Neil Mitchell (28.Dillon Jagasar 23rd minute), 25.Keryn Navarro (Capt.), 23.Brendon Figuera, 27.Quincy Charles (29.Hakin Baird 12th minute), 39.Taryk Sampson

Unused substitutes: 1.Shane Mattis (GK), 

Coach: Ross Russell