A spirited team performance and generous slice of good fortune paved the way for the first upset of the First Citizens Cup tonight as the modestly assembled St Ann’s Rangers stunned North East Stars 2-1 in a quarterfinal meeting at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
Long-serving Rangers utility player Devon Modeste grabbed the winner in the 70th minute with a goal that epitomised the graft, invention and stubborn resilience of the St Ann’s squad on the night.
As striker Cameron Roget headed across the Stars’ goalmouth, Modeste launched his body towards the ball with leg raised in a kung-fu styled kick. No one else in the penalty area wanted it as badly.
Rangers midfielder Jason Marcano was instrumental in the build-up play for the opener and was probably coach Dean Pacheco’s best player with his tireless running and precise passing. In another sense, 21-year-old right back Kadeem Drayton—who made his debut tonight—was just as valuable as he provided more cover than Rangers enjoyed in its 2-1 loss to Defence Force last week and allowed Modeste to play higher up the flank.
But there could be little doubt that the game’s most outstanding player wore a Stars shirt.
World Cup 2006 striker Cornell Glen gave a performance that should have delighted the 350-plus supporters and should have been an education for wannabe attackers.
Every ball into Glen, whether in the air or on the ground, stuck to his body like a magnet to a fridge. When defenders got close, he spun them. If they backed off, Glen turned and drove towards them.
Glen scored Stars’ lone goal with a free header—his second item for the season from as many as matches—and should have been awarded a penalty too after being barged over by defender Elijah Belgrave.
As the final whistle loomed, Glen eluded Rangers captain Mikhail Awai and three more defenders before a last gasp lunge from Marcano, on the edge of the six-yard box, blocked his goalbound effort.
Stars’ coach Angus Eve could console himself with the thought that he should not lose too many games when Glen is in that sort of mood.
Eve might regret his own pre-game contribution to the knock out fixture though.
In a lighthearted exchange at the First Citizens Cup launch, Pro League coaches exchanged verbal barbs and Eve informed the Rangers delegation that: “Allyuh gone already.”
It is uncertain whether his misplaced optimism served as a rallying call to Stars’ opponent. But, collectively, Rangers was almost unrecognizable from the team that was run over by Defence Force last week.
In an open affair, Marcano put Rangers ahead in the 28th minute after Stars failed to deal with a brilliant inswinging corner kick from Christon Thomas. Goalkeeper Cleon John misjudged the flight of the delivery and, although Hector Sam planted his free header off the bar, Marcano was well placed to convert the loose ball.
It took a splendid save from Zane Coker to preserve Rangers’ advantage at the half as the custodian spread himself and fended away a Glen effort with his left boot.
Rangers had its first slice of good luck in the 52nd minute as Sam, inexplicably and uncharacteristically, flung his right arm backwards and caught defender Kareem Moses on the side of his head. Referee Gyasi McDonald flashed yellow at the former England lower league striker rather than a red card.
The Stars squad was further incensed, eight minutes later, as Glen embarked on another solo mission and had already dribbled two players when Belgrave crudely bodychecked him inside the penalty area. McDonald declined to make the call.
By then Stars was on its third formation as a starting 3-5-2 line-up gave way to 3-4-3 after Marcano’s goal and then 4-2-4 with halftime substitutes Kennedy Hinkson and Kaydion Gabriel positioned high up each flanks.
Rangers, who played 4-4-1-1 with Sam playing slightly behind Roget, fought as well as possible with Awai, Marcano, Drayton and Coker especially distinguishing themselves. But it was little surprise when Stars drew level.
No shock at the scorer either.
Modeste was slow in closing down left back Kevon Villaroel in the 67th minute and the former Puerto Rico Islanders employee partially atoned for a miserable first half with a raking cross that an unmarked Glen finished with a cradled header into the corner.
Surely Stars, now in the ascendency, was favoured to go and get a result. But Rangers really wanted this one.
Marcano, with Jeromie Williams in close attendance, managed to free himself after a wall pass from Drayton and his deep cross was headed back across goal by Roget for Modeste to bundle home.
Eve threw on young winger Johan Peltier who finally created problems for an exhausted Drayton. And, as always, it took three quarter of the Rangers defence to contain Glen. Barely.
It was enough for a Rangers upset. As Pacheco’s men stretched tired legs out in the dressing room, after the final whistle, hopefully they gave some thought as to what is required for triumph this season.
North East Stars:
22.Cleon John; 19.Seon Power (Capt), 6.Kareem Moses, 17.Glenton Wolfe (18.Kennedy Hinkson 46); 10.Jayson Joseph, 7.Jeromie Williams (9.Johan Peltier 83), 8.Elijah Manners, 14.Jean-Loc Rochford (16.Kaydion Gabriel 46), 3.Kevon Villaroel; 4.Kerry Baptiste, 13.Cornell Glen.
Unused Subs: 1.Adrian Foncette, 11.Kaashif Thomas, 12.Gary Glasgow, 15.Devon Jamerson.
Coach: Angus Eve
St Ann’s Rangers:
1.Zane Coker; 23.Kadeem Drayton, 11.Elijah Belgrave, 12.Jamal Jack, 13.Christon Thomas; 10.Devon Modeste, 15.Mikhail Awai (Capt), 7.Jason Marcano, 31.Andrew Smith (30.Nicholas Castellanos 79); 9.Hector Sam; 14.Cameron Roget.
Unused Subs: 22.Akel Clarke, 5.Justin Harper, 26.Jemel Berot, 28.Kurdell Braithwaite.
Coach: Dean Pacheco
First Citizens Cup Quarterfinals
(Fri Sept 21)
St Ann’s Rangers 2 (Jason Marcano 28, Devon Modeste 70), North East Stars 1 (Cornell Glen 67) at Hasely Crawford
Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA 2 (Keyon Edwards 5, Sheldon Holder 9), T&TEC 0 at Hasely Crawford
DirecTV W Connection 0, Police 0 at Mannie Ramjohn[Connection won 3-1 on penalties]
Defence Force 3 (Richard Roy 48, 70, Devorn Jorsling 90), Central FC 0 at Mannie Ramjohn