Thirty-four-year-old former UK-based striker Hector Sam rolled back the years with a brilliant strike for St Ann’s Rangers this evening at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. But it was not enough to peg back Defence Force who held on for a 2-1 in the 2012/13 Digicel Pro League season opener.
In the second match at the same venue, North East Stars stunned Neal & Massy Caledonia 3-1. Cornell Glen, Kerry Baptiste and Kaydion Gabriel all got on the score sheet to give coach Angus Eve a dream debut for the Stars while Kareem “Tiny” Joseph got a consolation item for Caledonia. (Read full report here)
There was a debut to savour in the opening fixture too as local football fans got their first sight of the Richard Roy and Devorn Jorsling partnership. And so far so good as Jorsling and Roy scored within two minutes of each other as Defence Force predictably bettered the St Ann’s team.
The ball movement and spatial awareness of the army/coast guard troops was too much for the young Rangers team that was arguably flattered by the final scoreline.
It was an especially difficult debut for Rangers’ right side midfielder Kyle Bartholomew. Or, to be more precise, it was a torrid evening for his right back Devon Modeste.
Defence Force left back Aklie Edwards was full of running and Bartholomew didn’t seem to think that it had anything to do with him.
Bartholomew’s disinterest in defensive duties, which was generally symptomatic of Rangers’ unwillingness to sacrifice self for a team result, might have led to Defence Force’s opener in the 32nd minute. Once more, Edwards was alone in acres of space and his driven effort towards the last post was unconvincingly fended away by goalkeeper Zane Coker.
Jorsling, on his first game back for the “Teteron Boys” since two seasons away with Orlando City and Caledonia AIA respectively, made no mistake with the loose ball.
Two minutes later, Defence Force doubled its advantage as Roy finished confidently from the penalty spot after Coker had clattered Roy Russell Jr. Not a bad start for the “Ro-Jo” front pairing.
Defence Force failed to add to its tally though and Rangers nearly found a way back into the game through a special Sam strike.
Sam spent eight years in the English lower leagues at Wrexham, Port Vale, Walsall and Notts County before returning to Trinidad in 2009. For the first 70 minutes, he looked as lively and useful as a public servant at 3 pm on a Friday afternoon.
And then, in the 73rd minute, he flicked a switch.
Elijah Belgrave invited Sam to chase a pass through the channel between Defence Force’s left back and central defender but nothing seemed to be on as he closed in on the ball down the right side of the penalty area.
Sam thought otherwise as he spanked a brilliant first time right footed effort that flew past the surprised custodian Kevin Graham and nestled itself just inside the far upright.
It was as good as it got for Rangers on the night but, hopefully, it will give the squad something to rally around as it prepares for the next fixture.
Defence Force was presumably satisfied with three points.
Digicel Pro League
(Fri Sep 14)
Defence Force 2 (Devorn Jorsling 32, Richard Roy 34 pen), St Ann’s Rangers 1 (Hector Sam 73) at PoS
NE Stars 3 (Cornell Glen 51, Kerry Baptiste 66, Kaydion Gabriel 90), Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA 1 (Kareem Joseph 74 pen)
(Sat Sep 15)
Police FC v T&TEC at Hasely Crawford Stadium, PoS
1.Kevin Graham, 14.Cory Rivers (Capt), 5.Devin Jordan, 20.Rodell Elcock, 21.Aklie Edwards; 11.Kevon Carter, 15.Jerwin Balthazar, 18.Sean Narcis (3.Keston Williams 78), 17.Ross Russell Jr (16.Kerry Joseph 74); 9.Richard Roy, 10.Devorn Jorsling (12.Josimar Belgrave 76).
Unused Subs: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 4.Marvin Jones, 6.Michael Edwards, 19.Dexter Pacheco.
St Ann’s Rangers:
1.Zane Coker; 10.Devon Modeste, 11.Elijah Belgrave, 12.Jamal Jack, 13.Christon Thomas; 27.Kyle Bartholomew (26.Jemel Berot 84), 15.Mikhail Awai, 7.Jason Marcano, 31.Andrew Smith (30.Nicholas Castellano 85); 9.Hector Sam, 14.Cameron Roget.
Unused Subs: 22.Akel Clarke (GK), 5.Justin Harper, 23.Kadeem Drayton, 24.Luke Hernandez, 28.Kurdell Braithwaite.