Defending champions Defence Force and Club Sando completed the final four list for Sunday’s Digicel Pro Bowl semifinal round, as they held off San Juan Jabloteh and Ma Pau Stars respectively in last night’s quarterfinal action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
A second half Hashim Arcia double overturned Jabloteh’s early advantage as the Army/Coast Guard combination stayed alive in the final competition of the 2016/17 Pro League season. While Sando captain Akeem Humphrey created one goal for teammate Kevon Piper and bagged the second himself as they gunned down Stars 2-0.
Sando will meet Pro League champions, Central FC, from 4pm on Sunday at the same Couva venue while Defence Force kick off against Police FC from 6pm in the second match of the double header.
On Wednesday evening, Central routed St Ann’s Rangers 8-0 with four goals from forward Johan Peltier while Police held their nerve to eliminate W Connection via kicks from the penalty mark. It was much more straightforward tonight.
Stars were toothless without the strike pair of Jerrel Britto and Jason Scotland and it was not until the 90th minute that Sando goalkeeper Kelvin Henry had his first real save—Henry tipped over a clever bicycle kick from Elton John.
In contrast, Sando looked more threatening on the offence despite, arguably, seeing less of the ball.
Stars goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel was quick off his line to deny Sando attacker Keron Cornwall after an Akeem Roach cross while Trevin Latapy and Cornwall missed free headers in the 40th and 47th minutes respectively.
The opening goal finally came in the 63rd minute off a trademark Sando counter-attack. Stars midfielder Chike Sullivan might not have known what was at stake when he telegraphed an attempted pass to forward Kerry Baptiste on top of the opposing penalty area.
In a flash, the Sando defence pounced and sent the ball hurtling upfront for Roach, who in turn released Humphrey down the right flank. And Humphrey’s far post cross was accurately steered home on the volley by Kevon Piper.
Humphrey made the game safe for coach Angus Eve, 12 minutes later, as he blasted into the corner of the net after the Stars defence failed to deal with a left side cross. And Henry’s acrobatics meant that there would be consolation item for the Sangre Grande-based team after John’s stylish stoppage time effort off a corner kick.
In the second match of the double header, Arcia effectively settled the match within a two minute second half burst to end a frustrating season for Jabloteh.
The match could have easily gone the other way. Defence Force goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke made a fine save to deny a Jamal Gay header in the 16th minute. But he was powerless to prevent Adrian Reid’s opener from the penalty spot after referee Crystal Sobers whistled for a handball in the 29th minute.
Defence Force were led on top by new signing and former Point Fortin Civic forward Jamille Boatswain, as the prolific Devorn Jorsling is working his way back into the squad from injury. And Boatswain and his teammates are clearly not on the same page yet.
Arcia might remember the feeling as he initially struggled to make an impact when he joined Defence Force from W Connection last season. He is in flying form at the moment, though, and it was little surprise that Arcia got his name on the score sheet in the 50th minute—although his left footed strike took a health deflection to beat Sample.
There was nothing lucky about his second goal, just two minutes later, as Arcia collected a low left side cross from teammate Kerry Joseph and steered the ball past lunging Jabloteh defender Aquil Selby and out of Samuel’s reach to put Defence Force ahead.
Arcia ended the night in some discomfort, as he was stretchered off the field in the 75th minute after a collision with Jabloteh captain Damian Williams. But Defence Force, who had defender Justin Garcia ejected for a second yellow card, managed to withstand some searching wing play from Jabloteh’s Nathan Lewis to hang on to the result.
Police FC are in the path of “Teteron Boys” next as the Army/Coast Guard unit look to defend their Pro Bowl title.
San Juan Jabloteh (4-2-3-1): 1.Javon Sample (GK); 17.Josiah Trimmingham, 21.Aquil Selby (12.Kion Joseph 63), 24.Adrian Reid, 18.Jevon Morris; 9.Keithy Simpson, 11.Damian Williams; 23.Kennedy Hinkson (13.Kadeem Corbin 69), 10.Tyrone Charles (19.Aaqil Campbell 81), 27.Nathan Lewis; 7.Jamal Gay.
Unused substitutes: 35.Andrew Durant (GK), 5.Elijah Manners, 6.Akeem Benjamin, 14.Vernon Mills.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK); 6.Rodell Elcock, 17.Curtis Gonzales, 26.Justin Garcia, 21.Akile Edwards, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar, 8.Chris Durity, 13.Marvin Jones (32.Jameel Cooper 81), 10.Hashim Arcia (20.Levi Serries 75), 23.Kerry Joseph, 7.Jamille Boatswain (9.Devorn Jorsling 89).
Unused substitutes: 14.Darryl Trim, 22.Anthony Charles, 35.Tirek George, 94.Keron Fox.
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Referee: Crystal Sobers
Man of the Match: Hashim Arcia (Defence Force)
Digicel Pro Bowl
(Wednesday 8 February)
Central FC 8 (Sean De Silva 27 pen, Rundell Winchester 31, 52, Johan Peltier 43, 80, 83, 88, Keron Cummings 68), St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
W Connection 1 (Hughtun Hector 20), Police FC 1 (Christon Thomas 86) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
*—Police FC won 3-2 on kicks from the penalty spot
(Thursday 9 February)
Ma Pau Stars 0, Club Sando 2 (Kevon Piper 63, Akeem Humphrey 75) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Adrian Reid 29 pen), Defence Force 1 (Hashim Arcia 50, 52) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Sunday 12 February)
Central FC v Club Sando, 4pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Defence Force v Police FC, 6pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.