Point Fortin Civic stand-in goalkeeper Akini Adams stole the spotlight last night as his club advanced to the semifinal of the 2014 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield competition after a 4-3 penalty shoot win over Defence Force at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Just three days earlier, Defence Force roared back from a two goal deficit to edge Point Fortin 3-2 on this same ground. And lightening threatened to strike twice as the “Teteron Boys” rebounded from a first half deficit to pull level at one goal apiece.
But the army/coast guard combination could not get a decisive goal and Adams, the elder brother of late Trinidad and Tobago defender Akeem Adams, kept out two penalties from Curtis Gonzales and opposing captain Cory Rivers to set up a semifinal date next week against either defending champions DIRECTV W Connection or San Juan Jabloteh.
Defence Force’s early exit continued the club’s poor run in the cup competition this season. But coach Ross Russell surely prefers to be in the hunt for the million dollar Pro League first prize.
For Caledonia AIA, it has been misery in every format this term.
Last night, Central FC cruised to a 4-0 win over the “Eastern Stallions” in the first game of the Ato Boldon Stadium double header. There might have been toddlers who held on to their candy with more defiance than coach Jamaal Shabazz’s men.
Willis Plaza put the “Couva Sharks” ahead from the penalty spot after just four minutes following some shocking defending. Caledonia stopper Akeem Thomas inexplicably and unnecessarily dragged Plaza to the ground inside the area and the “Soca Warrior” dusted himself off to send opposing goalkeeper Shemel Louison the wrong way from the spot.
Plaza got his second in the 43rd minute as he cut across his marker, Raymond Alleyne, to reach a Samuel Delice cross before expertly steering into the far corner.
It could have been 3-0 in the 60th minute as ex-Caledonia player Ataullah Guerra, who wore the armband last night, opted not to give possession back after a bounce ball and, in the ensuing action, teammate Keon Trim hit the upright before veteran Caledonia right back Kareem Joseph blocked on the line from a Darren Mitchell volley.
And Guerra rubbed salt in Caledonia’s wounds in the 80th minute with Central’s third as he finished clinically after being sent clear by Plaza.
Another former Caledonia stalwart, Marvin Oliver, came off the bench to complete the score summary with an emphatic penalty kick in the 89th minute after Louison brought down Mitchell.
Central coach Terry Fenwick has now won three of his six encounters with Caledonia, since joining the Sharks, with two draws and just one defeat.
The opponents seemed much more evenly matched in the second affair.
Civic coach Reynold Carrington rested Trinidad and Tobago international goalkeeper Marvin Phillips but it was not the gamble it seemed as Adams again demonstrated his ability at this level. And no-nonsense central defender Andre Ettienne returned from a lengthy injury-enforced lay off to batter Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling and solidify the Point Fortin back line.
Like in midweek, Civic was comfortably better for the first hour. Marcus Joseph and Weslie John hit the bar once each before the Point Fortin side went ahead, in the 40th minute, through teenager Akeem Redhead.
Not for the first time, the Teteron Boys could not cut out an Andre Toussaint corner kick and John’s downward header looked to have already crossed the line when Rivers stopped it. Redhead spared referee Cecile Hinds from a tough decision by slamming home the rebound though as Civic stormed ahead.
Again, Defence Force made the more positive second half substitutions and, for the final 20 as minutes, Civic seemed to be struggling to get out of its own half of the field. Ettienne, who is as fierce as defenders come these days, seemed to be single handedly repelling the entire army/coast guard offence.
But an equaliser always seemed to be a matter of when not if and lanky defender Glynn Franklyn did the honours with a header off a Ross Russell Jr corner kick in the 80th minute.
Defence Force might have won the match in stoppage time too as Sebro sliced a pass through the Civic defence towards an unmarked Gonzales at the far post. But the all-action utility player, pressured by the onrushing Adams, hit wide.
Adams made himself even more of a nuisance in the subsequent shoot out as he stopped Gonzales’ straight, low kick and then dived to his left to block a tame Rivers effort as Civic progressed to the final four after successful penalties from Joseph, Toussaint, Ettienne and Bevon Bass.
The former national under-23 goalkeeper took off his top to reveal his own tribute to his brother Akeem, a former Ferencvaros defender and two-time World Youth Cup player, whose death last December after a heart attack provoked widespread mourning in Trinidad and Tobago and Hungary.
Remarkably, the Defence Force players could understand his grief after losing its own vice-captain, Kevon Carter, to a heart attack in February.
It is Civic who earned the chance to dedicate their cup run to a former hometown hero.
Four teams will battle for two places alongside Civic and Central when Lucozade Sport Goal Shield continues at the Ato Boldon Stadium this afternoon.
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 1.Kevin Graham (GK); 14.Cory Rivers (captain), 6.Rodell Elcock, 3.Keston Williams (2.Glynn Franklyn 54), 17.Ross Russell Jr; 4.Dave Long, 8.Curtis Gonzales; 23.Kerry Joseph (7.Balondemu Julius 77), 18.Sean Narcis (26.Richard Roy 58), 12.Jemel Sebro; 9.Devorn Jorsling.
Unused substitutes: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 5.Devin Jordan, 13.Marvin Jones, 45.Akeem Roach.
Coach: Ross Russell
Point Fortin Civic (4-1-4-1): 22.Akini Adams (GK); 2.Garyl Doldron, 4.Weslie John, 5.Andre Ettienne (captain), 17.Glen Sutton; 14.Bevon Bass; 35.Kariym Balthazar, 11.Andre Toussaint, 19.Andrei Pacheco (20.Sylvester Teesdale 59), 18.Akeem Redhead (21.Andre Alexis 72); 10.Marcus Joseph.
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 7.Nickcolson Thomas, 27.Jared Bennett, 30.Akiniyel Rouse, 33.Jamille Boatswain.
Coach: Reynold Carrington
Referee: Cecile Hinds
Lucozade Sport Goal Shield
(Fri Apr 4)
Central FC 4 (Willis Plaza 4 pen, 43, Ataullah Guerra 80, Marvin Oliver 89 pen), Caledonia AIA 0 at Couva
Point Fortin Civic 1 (Akeem Redhead 40), Defence Force 1 (Glynn Franklyn 80) at Couva
*–Point Fortin win 4-3 in penalty shoot-out
(Sat April 5)
W Connection vs San Juan Jabloteh, 5 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
North East Stars vs Police FC, 7 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.