Defence Force and two-time defending champions Central FC marched into quarter-final round of the 2015 First Citizens Cup with contrasting wins over San Juan Jabloteh and North East Stars, respectively, on Wednesday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
While early goals from Marvin Oliver and Sean De Silva, and a second half double from Willis Plaza saw Central cruise to a 4-1 win over North East Stars, in a repeat of last season’s final which the “Couva Sharks” won 1-0 courtesy a second half Leston Paul goal.
Central, First Citizens Cup champions in 2013 and 2014, advances to meet Police FC in the quarter-final round on October 16 while Defence Force, champions in 2002 and 2009, must tackle Morvant Caledonia United, champions of 2011 and 2012.
Other quarter-final round match-ups includes St. Ann's Rangers against newcomers Club Sando and six-time (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008) winners W Connection against Point Fortin Civic.
With the champions’ prize set at $110,000 and $20,000 to the runners-up, the First Citizens Cup lived up to expectations on the opening night with a total of 10 goals, some of which were as entertaining as anyone could imagine.
Following a goalless first half, Franklyn handed Defence Force a 1-0 lead in the 53 minute when he headed in an Aklie Edwards cross following a free-kick into the area.
Five minutes later Jabloteh's Charles, with a stunning free-kick from 26 yards out to hit the base of goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke’s top corner before the ball landed inside, levelled the scores 1-1.
But Franklyn got to his double in the 66th minute, restoring the soldiers lead 2-1 after getting just the perfect amount of touch to a right side Kerry Joseph cross to beat Jabloteh goalkeeper Shemel Louison a second time.
Louison, a Grenada national team goalie, was beaten again in the 80th minute when Balthazar unleashed a rocket from 35 yards out to improve Defence Force’s lead 3-1.
The soldiers, coached by Marvin Gordon, had a couple late chances to add to the scoring with the second half introduction of Richard Roy, who replaced an injured Devorn Jorsling at the start of the second period.
However, despite finishing on the wrong end of a 3-2 score, it was 2000 and 2003 champions, Jabloteh, coached by Keith Jeffrey, that enjoyed the final goal of the match.
Jamaican Rickcardo Harriott finished a rebound past goalkeeper Clarke from an angle after the Defence Force goalie had blocked out a bicycle attempt from Harriott’s countryman and second half substitute Fabian Reid in the 90th minute.
In the Qualifier Two, Central, the reigning Digicel Pro League and Caribbean champions, now led by former Defence Force coach Ross Russell, spared no mercy against a new-look North East Stars.
Veteran playmaker and a former North East Stars star, Oliver, had Central in front 1-0 within the 2nd minute of play when he headed into goalkeeper Cleon John’s net after Jamal Jack headed a De Silva free-kick back across the area.
The trouble doubled by the 18th minute for North East Stars and new head coach Roland Clarke when De Silva made it 2-0 in favour of the “Couva Sharks”.
De Silva, coming off a double scored at Point Fortin Civic in a 3-0 league win on Saturday, controlled a return pass over the defence by Oliver and stuck past the glove of a hapless John.
But a wonder goal by former Central midfielder, Keron Cummings, trimmed the defending champions’ lead in half (2-1) five minutes before the break while grabbing what could inspire a ‘Goal of the Season’ award.
The 27-year-old Trinidad and Tobago international, from 30 yards out, unleashed a left-footed volley that sunk into the bottom corner of his international teammate and Central goalkeeper, Jan-Michael Williams’, net.
However a second half double by another T&T international, Willis Plaza, put the match out of North East Stars reach.
De Silva, involved again, played a deep pass into the area and Plaza showed good strength and determination to elude two defenders before rounding goalkeeper John to hit into the net for a 3-1 Central lead.
The talented Central forward showed forte again when he circled the North East Stars defence inside the box before hitting past John in stoppage time to complete the 4-1 win and extend his side’s unbeaten run to five matches in all competition.
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Tyrone Charles 58’, Rickcardo Harriott 90’) vs Defence Force 3 (Glynn Franklyn 53’, 66’, Jerwyn Balthazar 80’)
North East Stars 1 (Keron Cummings 40’) vs Central FC 4 (Marvin Oliver 2’, Sean De Silva 18’, Willis Plaza 69’, 90’+2)
San Juan Jabloteh: 30.Shemel Louison; 10.Tyrone Charles, 8.Keyon Edwards, 7.Jamal Gay (12.Jordan Devonish 70th), 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 27.Nathan Lewis, 18.Jevon Morris (13. Fabian Reid 70th), 24.Adrian Reid, 21.Aquil Selby, 11.Damian Williams, 22.Caleb Sturge (5.Rickcardo Harriott)
Unused substitutes: 36.Raheem Belgrave (GK), 6.Ramone Mc Gregor, 16.Kaashif Thomas, 15.Jerome Isaiah Mc Intyre,
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke; 2.Glynn Franklyn, 4.Dave Long (52.Stephan Campbell 87th), 7.Jelani felix, 8.Curtis Gonzales, 9.Devorn Jorsling (26.Richard Roy 46th), 13.Marvin Jones, 18.Sean Narcis (12. Jemel Sebro 64th), 21.Aklie Edwards, 23.Kerry Joseph, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (capt.)
Unused substitutes: 6.Rodell Elcock, 17. Ross Russell Jr., 30.Kishun Seecharan, 80.Aaron Enil (GK)
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Match Referee: Dave Daniel.
North East Stars: 22.Cleon John; 3.Acassio De Oliveira (27.Quincy Charles 64th), 4.Jesus Perez, 5.Alanzo Adlam, 8.Neveal Hackshaw, 9.Gorean Highley (6.Duane Muckette 60th), 10.Keron Cummings, 21.Neil Mitchell (40.Jomoul Francois 33rd), 24.Adrian Noel, 25.Keryn Navarro, 26.Carey Brown
Unused substitutes: 1.Shane Mattis (GK), , Fernando Lomes, 28.Dillon Jagasar, 39.Taryk Sampson
Coach: Roland Clarke
Central FC: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (capt.); 2.Elton John, 8.Sean De Silva, 10.Marvin Oliver (26.Mickaeel Jem Gordon 84th), 11.Darren Mitchell (7.Jason Marcano 58th), 12.Jamal Jack, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 17.Marcelle Francois, 24.Kevon Villaroel, 33.Willis Plaza, 28.Ataullah Guerra (50.Leston Paul 74th)
Unused substitutes: 6.Kerry Baptiste, 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 19.Nathaniel Garcia, 25.Elijah Manners
Coach: Ross Russell
Match Referee: Rodphin Harris