Digicel Pro League leaders Defence Force enjoyed a nine-point advantage over second placed Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA as early as last weekend. But the gap might be just four points tomorrow if Caledonia defeats St Ann’s Rangers from 5 pm in the first of a Marvin Lee Stadium double header at Macoya.
The “Eastern Stallions” got a helping hand from an unlikely source this evening as T&TEC substitute Glen Sutton scored a last minute equaliser for the bottom placed outfit who held Defence Force 1-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The result did not flatter T&TEC either and was as much as the army/coast guard combination deserved for a dire performance.
Defence Force head coach Ross Russell was unavailable and, in his absence, deputy Marvin Gordon ran the substitutes’ bench. The two technical staff members are likely to have a very interesting discussion once Russell finds out about this result.
There was little sign of what lay ahead in the first half as Defence Force took the lead after 15 minutes and should have easily been two goals clear within the opening half hour.
Predictably, Devorn Jorsling did the job for Defence Force with a composed finish after a clever flick by midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar in the opposing box. It was Jorsling’s 13 Pro League goal this season, which is three more than the competition’s second best marksman, Cornell Glen.
Jorsling should have had another, in the 22nd minute, but seemed to misplace his right foot in front of a gaping goal as he steered a left side Ross Russell Jr cross wide at the far post with his preferred left boot.
Only a solitary goal separated Defence Force and T&TEC when they last faced each other on 15 December 2012. The soldiers were without four national players, including Jorsling, for that encounter.
But facing a modest one-goal deficit at the interval, T&TEC decided to go for it.
Eleven minutes after the restart, the “Electricity Boys” should have pulled level as right back Cebastian Bailey picked out an unmarked Bevon Bass in the opposing penalty area only for the attacker to lob the ball straight into the hands of surprised Defence Force custodian Kevin Graham.
Remarkably, the generous Defence Force backline gave T&TEC an even better chance in the 64th minute.
This time, Graham failed to hold on to a cross and the ball fell to substitute Sylvester Teesdale at the edge of the area. But Teesdale placed the ball tamely back at catchable height for the Army goalkeeper.
Defence Force might have made the game safe in the 78th minute but T&TEC custodian Akini Adams produced a fine low save to his left to keep out Balthazar.
The match remained wide open in the closing minutes with Defence Force oddly unable to stem the flow of attacks from a T&TEC side that scored just nine goals—a Pro League low—from its last 13 games.
And, as the game entered the 90th minute, midfielder Sutton charged through the centre of the opposing defence to latch on to a through pass and rounded Graham before ramming home.
The T&TEC celebrations were emphatic while, in the stands, neutrals cheered too for the plucky underdogs.
Caledonia AIA representatives might have been applauding too. Suddenly, the Pro League title race is alive again.
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 1.Kevin Graham; 14.Cory Rivers (captain), 20.Rodell Elcock, 2.Glynn Franklyn, 21.Aklie Edwards; 18.Sean Narcis (24.Jahvon Neptune 82), 3.Keston Williams; 29.Jemel Sebro, 15.Jerwyn Balthazar, 17.Russ Russell (12.Josimar Belgrave 57); 10.Devorn Jorsling (9.Richard Roy 71).
Coach: Marvin Gordon
T&TEC (4-2-3-1): 1.Akini Adams; 7.Cebastian Bailey, 26.Adaryll John, 4.Angus John, 8.Eustace Darius; 25.Givon John (9.Sylvester Teesdale 53), 20.Brent Garcia; 15.Tigana Sparks (14.Keeron Benito 66), 46.Nathaniel Garcia, 16.Bevon Bass (45.Glen Sutton 77); 10.Daniel Garcia.
Unused substitutes: 32.Tevin Archer, 23.Joel Jeremiah, 35.Akiniyel Rouse, 38.Mickell Charles.
Coach: Dexter Cyrus
Referee: Cecile Hinds
Digicel Pro League
(Fri Feb 22)
Defence Force 1 (Devorn Jorsling 14), T&TEC 1 (Glen Sutton 90) at Couva
W Connection 5 (Hashim Arcia 17, Andrei Pacheco 19, Joevin Jones 37, 39, 75), Police 2 (Jameel Perry 6, Elijah Belgrave 75 FK) at Couva[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=true]