San Juan Jabloteh put aside a demoralising 5-0 defeat away to Santos Laguna, in Mexico, on Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round match, to edge the highly-fancied Defence Force 1-0, on Saturday night, in the semi-final round of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield tournament.
Teenaged striker Jerrel Britto scored a late winner for Jabloteh, at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, as they ended the 11-game win-streak by Defence Force, in all competitions, this year.
Jabloteh will face North East Stars in the final, at Macoya, on August 13 – North East got a last-second goal from 25-year-old Jamaican defender Kimarley McDonald to eliminate W Connection 2-1 in the earlier semi-final meeting.
Contrary to popular belief, Jabloteh put up a good fight against Defence Force, as their defence did an excellent job in marshalling top striker Devon Jorsling while they showed a desire to attack, something they have been struggling to do lately.
Veteran striker Hector Sam had a chance after two minutes, but he struck wide, while Ataullah Guerra stunned Defence Force’s goalkeeper Kevin Graham with a powerful right-footer, and Johan Peltier hit wide, from close range, after Graham parried a right-sided cross from Ronaldo Viana.
Jorsling and Richard Roy played a give-and-go but an off-balanced Jorsling sent his left-footer wide of the mark and, late in the half, Peltier blasted a right-footer over bar while, on the opposite end, Roy saw his right-footer deflect wide, as the Jabloteh defence lost composure.
The second half was a more defensive affair, but Sam blew a golden opportunity in the 57th when he met a right-sided centre from Jason Marcano and headed wide to Graham’s left.
Sam’s replacement Britto got the game winner, three minutes from time, as he collected a ball from left-back Noel Williams, shrugged off the challenge of defender Devin Jordan and placed his right-footer to the right of Graham.
In the earlier game, North East Stars showed good resilience (following the news about the death of midfielder Carey Harris’ mother) to dethrone the 2009 winners.
Connection had an early opportunity to break the deadlock, after nine minutes, but goalie Michael Woods did well with a pair of saves, to deny Nickcolson Thomas and the subsequent rebound from Matthew Bartholomew.
The tempo of the game slowed to a crawl until Gary Glasgow put North East in front in the 35th. The veteran midfielder met a diagonal ball from Jeromie Williams and, with acres of space on the right, he rifled his right-footer to the top right-hand corner of Jan-Michael Williams’ net.
Three minutes later, Andrei Pacheco could have tied the scores, but his left-footer crashed off the cross-bar, but Hughtun Hector kept Connection in the hunt with an equaliser, three minutes into the second half.
Hector was sent through on goal by Bartholomew and, after his initial shot was blocked by Woods, the midfielder drilled home the rebound, via the boots of the keeper.
Glasgow had a chance to restore North East’s lead in the 60th, but his low left-footer went wide of Woods’ left post, but it seemed like only a matter of time before Connection got the winner, as they produced a typically defensive barrier to snuff out the ideas of North East.
But, in the third and final minute of stoppage time, North East won a freekick on the left, which was taken by Arnold Dwarika, and McDonald met Errol McFarlane’s downward header, turned and hit a low left-footer to the right of a frozen Jan-Michael Williams, a goal which sparked a pitch invasion by the jubilant technical staff and substitutes’ bench.
W CONNECTION: Jan-Michael Williams; Elijah Joseph (capt), Eder Gilmar Aras, Andrei Pacheco, Nickcolson Thomas; Vernus Abbott, Christian Viveros (Romauld Aguillera 69th), Zaine Pierre (Joevin Jones 69th), Hughtun Hector; Shahdon Winchester (Teba McKnight 78th), Matthew Bartholomew.
NORTH EAST STARS: Michael Woods; Charles Pollard (capt), Kimarley McDonald, Kevaughn Connell, Marc Leslie; Jeromie Williams (Carey Harris 71st), Leslie Fitzpatrick, Gary Glasgow, Akiel Guevara (Arnold Dwarika 71st); Sean Fraser, Errol McFarlane.
DEFENCE FORCE: Kevin Graham; Devin Jordan, Keston Williams, Rondell Elcock (Aklie Edwards 61st), Corey Rivers (capt); Dexter Pacheco, Dexter Thornhill, Kerry Joseph (Jerwyn Balthazar 59th), Kevon Carter, Richard Roy (Kurt Williams 75th); Devon Jorsling.
SAN JUAN JABLOTEH: Cleon John; Jamal Jack, Joel Russell, Noel Williams, Sheldon Bateau; Marvin Oliver (capt), Ronaldo Viana (Elijah Manners 67th), Johan Peltier (Willis Plaza 70th), Jason Marcano, Ataullah Guerra; Hector Sam (Jerrel Britto 76th).
Army finally beaten.
By Ian Prescott (T&T Express).
DIRECTV North East Stars put defending champions W Connection out of the 2010 Lucozade Goal Shield knockout football tournament, and San Juan Jabloteh also reached next Friday's grand final after handing Defence Force their first defeat of the season after 11 matches.
Eighteen-year-old national youth striker Jerrel Britto had been on the field just over 10 minutes when he scored in the 87th minute, giving Jabloteh a 1-0 victory over Defence Force in the second of two semi-finals at the Marvin Lee Stadium on Friday night.
Meanwhile, there was an even more dramatic end to the first semi-final when lanky Jamaican defender Kimarley McDonald scored deep into extra-time and with the final kick of the match, to give North East Stars a 2-1 victory over Connection.
In the first match, Stars showed their intent early, taking a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute. Veteran Gary Glasgow showed that he still knows how to score goals when he took Jeromie William's cross-field pass and ripped his shot into the upper corner of the far post. But W Connection turned up the pressure late in the first half and came close to pulling level.
First, midfielder Andrei Pacheco curled a speculative shot onto the Stars crossbar in the 36th, and a minute later Hughton Hector's low grounder was diverted past the far post by a diving goalkeeper Michael Woods.
Also, in the 41st, Shahdon Winchester banged a close-up shot straight at Woods, as W Connection began to get on top. Connection's pressure bore fruit just two minutes into the second half, Hector banging the ball in on the second attempt with the aid of a deflection in the 47th minute.
But, W Connection's young striker Winchester was wasteful in the 76th when presented with a gift that could have put the champs ahead. Meeting Pacheco's corner-kick, Winchester got a free header, but turned the ball wide.
Stars also had a chance to win in the 89th when substitute Arnold Dwarika's free-kick fell favourably for Jamaican striker Sean Fraser, but Connection's St Lucian captain and central defender Elijah Joseph got in a vital block as the shot came in.
And just when the game looked to be heading for penalty kicks, Dwarika's free-kick fell to tall Jamaican McDonald who wrong-footed goalie Jan Michael Williams as he swept the ball in. Referee Shane De Silva blew the whistle immediately after.
The second semi-final had almost as dramatic an ending when Britto stuck the ball into the Defence Force net three minutes from the end of the 90 minute regulation period. Three weeks ago, Defence Force had comfortably defeated Jabloteh 2-0 in the league. This time, Jabloteh coach Terry Fenwick successfully stopped Defence Force running at his team at pace.
Jabloteh took the fight to the Army on Saturday and looked to have found an early goal when left defender Jamal Jack headed home Ronaldo Viana's free-kick at the back post, but he was flagged offside.
And young striker Johan Peltier beat "Army" keeper Kevin Graham to a cross from Brazilian Viana, but still put his shot wide. Peltier had another glorious chance in the second half when he stripped Corey Rivers of the ball in the penalty area but again turned the ball wide when pressured by the keeper.
Following that miss, Fenwick took off the frustrated former schoolboy striker, gave him a reassuring pat on the head, and put on a more experienced Willis Plaza in the 70th.
Five minutes later, Fenwick also took off his other miss-firing striker, 32-year-old veteran Hector Sam, who shot straight at Graham when put clear of the defence on the half hour, and also turned a free-header wide from the centre of the penalty area in the 55th, after Jason Marcano's cross landed plumb on his head.
Fenwick replaced Sam with eventual match-winner Britto in the 75th.
Defence Force did not look as sharp as in the Pro League where they have won all of their first 10 matches. With Jabloteh attacking early every time the ball came across the face of the Defence Force goal, they caused panic and a goal looked likely.
Army coach Ross Russell seemed to have fiddled too much with his squad, and while adventurous defender Aklie Edwards sat on the bench for two-thirds of the match, there was no overlapping on the left.
And Kevin Carter, the usual pacey tormentor on the right flank, was switched left but produced little penetration. As a result, the league's top scorer Devon Jorsling had very little service.
Army played at a snail's pace and did not have a good shot until the 45th when Richard Roy's drive was just deflected wide after a good cross from Carter, who had switched back to the right flank.
And Carter looked about to give the Defence Force the lead in the opening seconds of the second half when a lucky ricochet put him through the Jabloteh back-line. But keeper Cleon John was quickly out to block the low shot.
Russell reshuffled his pack in the 62nd minute, bringing on Edwards, and with Carter back on the right, it had an immediate effect when Edwards (Aklie) blazed up the flank, getting Jorsling and Carter involved at pace in the very next attack.
However, it all came to nothing when Britto ran onto a though ball and physically held off his marker before sticking the ball wide of keeper Graham to grab the late winner.
LUCOZADE SPORT GOAL SHIELD FINAL:
(Friday, August 13, Marvin Lee Stadium)
6 p.m. - Media X1 v Pro League Coaches XI
8 p.m. - FINAL - DIRECTVNorth East Stars v San Juan Jabloteh