Defending Pro League football champions, Defence Force, continued its momentum this evening with a typically gritty 1-0 win over DirecTV North East Stars at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.
The army/ coast combination is now three points shy of fourth placed T&TEC with a game in hand and are undefeated since a 1-0 loss to W Connection on December 20, 2011—a stretch of four league games.
In contrast, Stars now has just one win from its last seven outings. The Sangre Grande-based club is joint second from bottom with St Ann’s Rangers while the cellar placed outfit, Police, is six points adrift but hold five games in hand.
Stars owner Darryl Mahabir, who is not renowned for his patience, might feel particularly agitated by his squad’s impotency in the attacking third of the field. Stars took the field with a 4-5-1 formation that left striker Darryl Trim so isolated that he might as well have liming at the Dial.
Defence Force coach Ross Russell can never be accused of creating an entertaining side either and it made for a largely drab affair.
The regiment team had more character at the business end of the field, though, and the game’s lone goal was a worthy match winner.
Stars could not get the ball clear after a period of sustained pressure and Jerwin Balthazar collected just inside the opposing area and finished with a fine, angled right footer that flew across the body of national under-23 goalkeeper Andre Marchan to nestle itself low into the far corner.
Defence Force should have had a second in stoppage time after clever approach play by Michael Edwards but prolific striker Richard Roy banged his effort wastefully off the bar.
Stars never conjured up a moment to match as Defence Force squeezed space with two holding midfielders protecting a compact back four.
Athletic 23-year-old Defence Force central defender Rodell Elcock was in especially impressive form and a tame Ryan Stewart header, straight at opposing goalkeeper Kevin Graham, was as good as it got for the Stars.
1.Kevin Graham; 14.Cory Rivers (capt), 2.Glynn Franklyn, 20.Rodell Elcock, 22.Curtis Gonzales; 3.Keston Williams (13.Anton Joseph 57), 28.Dwight Scott; 12.Jemel Sebro, 15.Jerwyn Balthazar (6.Michael Edwards 82), 30.Josimar Belgrave (24.Jahvon Neptune 69); 9.Richard Roy.
Unused Subs: 60.Sheldon Clarke, 5.Devin Jordan, 16.Dexter Thornhill, 39.Kenrick Cupidore.
22.Andre Marchan; 20.Seon Power (7.Marc Leslie 37), 13.Charles Pollard, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 23.Keryn Navarro; 14.Kayode McKinnon; 10.Anthony Wolfe, 8.Akeil Guevara, 18.Kendal Velox, 17.Ryan Stewart; 9.Darryl Trim (15.Kaydion Gabriel 61),
Subs: 26.Andrew Durant, 6.Jeromie Williams, 21.Jean-Luc Rochford, 5.Stephen Cruickshank, 12.Gary Glasgow.
Referee: Lee Davis