Defence Force was unable to replicate its goal scoring heroics from a week ago as they were ousted by fellow Pro League club North East Stars yesterday evening in their FA Trophy quarter final matchup at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
The Army/Coast Guard combination slammed 17 goals past Black Rock FC in last week’s Third Round affair but could only muster two yesterday as they fell 3-2 to Stars.
Defence Force started the contest brightly and looked as though they had an early goal in them. But Stars drew first blood.
“Army” committed too many players forward for a corner kick, in the 14th minute, and Stars duly obliged with an effective counter attack, which saw Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw finish neatly past the stumbling Defence Force goalkeeper Andre Marchan.
Defence Force captain and midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar almost fashioned a swift response in the 17th minute but his left-footed drive was gathered by Stars custodian Cleon John on the second attempt while winger Akeem Roach had a few efforts fly wide.
But Stars, with Keron “Ballpest” Cummings and teammate Kaashif Thomas threatening constantly, were giving the “Teteron Boys” a lesson in counter-attacking football. And a Defence Force corner led to the second goal as well as Stars right back Kareem Richardson released teammate Taryk Sampson who, in turn, teed up Thomas for a simple finish.
Army did not know what hit them and, as frustration built, utility player Curtis Gonzales was fortunate to remain on the field after he flew into successive challenges with flailing arms. Stars coach Angus Eve remonstrated on the sideline but it was to no avail.
Not to be bothered by Gonzales’ rugged play, Stars persisted with their style and it paid dividends in the 39th minute.
Lone striker Jomoul Francois outpaced Defence Force’s centre-halves and ran onto a nicely weighted ball by Thomas before firing a crisp right-footed volley over the head of Marchan. Francois had been a willing runner up until then and got his just reward. The goal sparked wild celebrations by himself and his teammates as they were well in the ascendancy.
The Army finally executed a successful corner kick in the 45th minute as defender Rodell Elcock bundled home in a crowded area and there was renewed intent from the soldiers in the second half.
Stars goalkeeper Cleon John produced a superb save to deny Defence Force midfielder Dave Long in the second half while defender Dwane James spectacularly cleared a loose ball from beneath his crossbar.
Defence Force huffed and puffed but could not blow the house down. They were now moving the ball smoothly and with great rhythm but the final product was lacking. And their star striker, Devorn Jorsling, was spared his blushes by the linesman’s flag in the 71st minute after missing a sitter from only a few yards out.
Eve had introduced midfield enforcer Jeromie Williams and defender Keithy Simpson by then to solidify his team’s setup. Stars were playing with nine men behind the ball, leaving Cummings to fend for himself up top.
Cummings took up the challenge with great zest and almost produced a quite spectacular goal with a 40-yard volley that left Marchan stranded but just missed the target.
Defence Force were increasingly throwing bodies forward by then and finally got that second item in the second minute of stoppage time as Ross Russell Jr slotted home after some neat build up play involving Roach.
The Defence Force players scampered back to their positions in an attempt to get one more crack at John and the North East goal, and that they did. After some patient passing down the right hand flank, substitute Jemel Sebro found himself one-on-one with John but the lean midfielder fired tamely at the shot-stopper.
It was the last action of the game and a narrow escape for Stars who now move on to the FA Trophy semi-finals.
North East Stars (4-2-3-1): 22.Cleon John (GK); 3.Kareem Richardson, 14.Dwane James, 25.Keryn Navarro (captain), 38.Jesus Perez; 44.Kion Jospeh, 41.Neveal Hackshaw (4.Keithy Simpson 71 -yellow card-); 42.Taryk Sampson (6.Jeromie Williams 58), 18.Kaashif Thomas, 10.Keron Cummings; 40.Jomoul Francis (12.Jayson Joseph 58).
Coach: Angus Eve
Defence Force (4-1-4-1): 28.Andre Marchan (GK); 13.Marvin Jones (10.Josimar Belgrave 64), 22.Jamali Garcia, 6.Rodell Elcock, 17.Ross Russel Jr; 4.Dave Long; 23.Kerry Joseph, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (captain), 8.Curtis Gonzales, 11.Akeem Roach -yellow card-; 9.Devorn Jorsling (12.Jemel Sebro 76).
Coach: Marvin Gordon
FA Trophy Quarter-Final
(Sun Mar 8)
North East Stars 3 (Neveal Hackshaw 14, Kaashif Thomas 28, Jomoul Francois 39), Defence Force 2 (Rodell Elcock 45, Ross Russell Jr 90+2) at Macoya;
San Juan Jabloteh 3 (Coneal Thomas 28, Newton Sterling 63, Brent Sam 67), Club Sando 2 (Kevon Woodley 39, Nigel Daniel 90+4) at Malabar;
Central FC 2 (Jason Marcano 61, Willis Plaza 75), Police FC 0 at St James;
W Connection 0, St Francois Nationals 0 at Marabella;
*–Connection won 5-3 on kicks from penalty mark.