National Security Minister and ex-Defence Force captain Gary Griffith provoked inter-island tension again this week with an undiplomatic reference to Jamaicans living illegally in Trinidad and Tobago.
There might have been revenge of sorts at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya tonight as San Juan Jabloteh, with five Jamaicans in its ranks, handed Defence Force an embarrassing early elimination from the First Citizens Cup in the qualifying round.
Shane Mattis was the pick of the lot with two penalty saves from Richard Roy and Rodell Elcock as Jabloteh edged the Army/Coast Guard outfit 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 tie in regulation time.
Jabloteh will now play DIRECTV W Connection at 6 pm on Friday evening in the quarterfinal round at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The First Citizens Cup fixtures could not have been crueller to Jabloteh who ought to have been given an additional day’s rest and been allowed to play on Saturday evening instead.
But, for now, the “San Juan Kings” would savour an encouraging result against one of the country’s best teams on paper.
In truth, it was a dire affair punctuated with careless passes and topped off with woeful penalty kicks. There were 11 penalty attempts in total on the night; and just five were converted while three missed the target altogether.
Defence Force poacher Devorn Jorsling, of all people, made the first gaffe as he pulled his spot kick wide in the 27th minute after a referee Crystal Sobers penalised a challenge from Jabloteh captain Jevon Morris on opposing winger Ross Russell Jr.
And, in the 74th minute, the Jabloteh players thought they had secured the match when Andell Noray finished with a cracking left footer in the top corner after a pass from strike partner and Jamaican Sterling Newton.
Russell’s delivery from the left flank was a rare bit of quality on the night and, two minutes from time, Defence Force finally capitalised as Roy brought down a cross and finished with a spanking volley into the far corner.
Roy’s first penalty was saved by Mattis though and Jabloteh held its nerve in the shoot-out to emerge 3-2 winners and book a quarterfinal berth against knockout specialist, W Connection.
Defence Force (4-2-3-1): 28.Andre Marchan (GK); 13.Marvin Jones, 6.Rodell Elcock, 8.Curtis Gonzales, 21.Aklie Edwards; 4.Dave Long, 15.Jerwin Balthazaar; 23.Kerry Joseph (16.Kellon Serrette 76), 10.Josimar Belgrave (18.Sean Narcis 65), 17.Ross Russell Jr; 9.Devorn Jorsling (26.Richard Roy 65).
Unused substitutes: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 5.Devin Jordan, 12.Jemel Sebro, 22.Jamali Garcia.
Coach: Ross Russell
San Juan Jabloteh (4-3-3): 30.Shane Mattis (GK); 18.Jevon Morris (captain), 6.Dario Holmes, 24.Adrian Reid 4.Garth Thomas; 19.Dillon Kirton, 12.Brendon Boucaud (16.Nyron Jones 84), 17.Fabian Reid; 7.Andell Noray, 8.Newton Sterling (15.Duran Dilworth 75), 9.Johan Peltier (14.Shaquille Bertrand 62).
Unused substitutes: 36.Raheem Belgrave (GK), 10.Kerry Baptiste, 25.Troy Moses.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Referee: Crystal Sobers
First Citizens Cup qualifier
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Andell Noray 74), Defence Force 1 (Richard Roy 88) at Macoya
*–Jabloteh won 3-2 on penalties
San Juan Jabloteh v W Connection, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Central FC v Point Fortin Civic, 8 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
St Ann’s Rangers v Police FC, 5 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium;
Caledonia AIA v North East Stars, 7 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium.