Second half substitute Sean Narcis snatched a late winner to lift Defence Force to a 2-1 win over 10-man Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh in the second match of a Round One Match Day Eight double header as the 2014-2015 Digicel Pro League resumed – following the Christmas break – on Saturday.
Earlier at the Macoya venue, mid-table North East Stars were also narrow winners, defeating cellar-positioned St. Ann's Rangers 1-0.
Midfielder Keron Cummings, the hero for the Angus Eve-coached Sangre Grande club, directed Kennedy Hinkson's cross past goalkeeper Christopher Biggette just seven minutes into the match for what eventually turned out the winner.
Biggette, who was lucky not to cause his side further trouble following a giveaway in the 50th minute, redeemed himself in the 65th minute by thwarting a low curling attempt by Cummings.
Rangers, boasting promising forward Nicholas Dillon on loan from Central FC, failed to really trouble the Stars, who also boasted a January transfer window acquisition themselves, in forward Russell Alfred.
Alfred, like Dillon, doesn’t lack the power, speed, and bravery to run at the defence but must learn to put his efforts on target after hitting wide near the 38th minute; troubling the side netting in the 50th minute; and heading wide of the far upright in the 78th minute.
Nevertheless North East Stars celebrated a win on the resumption and moved up a spot into 4th position on the standings with 11 points as third-positioned Caledonia AIA.
Defence Force also made upward movement, jumping two spots up the ladder into 5th position with 10 points while Jabloteh dropped a spot into seventh position with 8 points, one point ahead of Police FC, who on the bye slipped two spots down into sixth position.
Defence Force, with Marvin Gordon occupying the role of interim head coach, grabbed a 1-0 lead on the 16th minute after Jabloteh goalkeeper Raheem Belgrave and new defensive signing and former Rangers player, Isiah Mc Intyre, failed to intercept a low Jemel Sebro cross which Josimar Belgrave gladly sent into the back of the net.
Belgrave was denied a second item six minutes inside the second period when his effort crashed off the upright and seconds later his teammate Richard Roy was denied by the goalkeeper.
Then from a stunning 24-yard strike in the 65th minute by Jabloteh forward Brent Sam, sending the ball into the upper corner, leaving no chance to Defence Force goalie Sheldon Clarke, the scores were level at 1-1.
But in the 79th minute Jabloteh suffered a blow when defender Jevon Morris was shown his second yellow card of the match by referee Keon Yorke for a foul on Defence Force substitute Kerry Joseph just outside the left of the area.
And it was Defence Force that capitalised in the end when substitute Narcis, who had replaced fleet-footed newcomer Jelani Felix in midfield on the 68th minute, restored the soldiers' lead with a 2-1 score.
Narcis completed a good run by latching onto substitute Kerry Joseph's cross and sending it into the back of the Jabloteh net.
Defence Force had an excellent opportunity to extend the score-line in stoppage time but goal scorer Belgrave – set alight by a Jorsling pass – skied his attempt over the bar.
However the true excitement will unfold on Sunday 11 January when the top three teams resume their chase towards the inaugural Round One - Rawle Fletcher Cup.
Leaders Central FC, with 14 points from 7 matches, must make the best of their final Round One Match when they take to the field against Point Fortin Civic 5 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
While defending league champions DIRECTV W Connection, who must take on Caledonia AIA from 7 pm at the Couva venue, stands within an excellent chance of hurdling their town-rivals for the title, boasting 13 points and 6 more to play for.
However it can be an uphill task on Sunday for W Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, likely to be without 11 players from his roster against Caledonia AIA, who, as it stands, are within a mathematical chance at the Rawle Fletcher Trophy and $35,000 that’s up for grabs.
But for Caledonia, with 11 points from 6 matches, difficulty lies ahead.
The Jamaal Shabazz coached Morvant-Laventille outfit must obtain maximum points against Connection before ending the round against probably their trickiest opponents, North East Stars on Tuesday.
Round One Match Day Eight Saturday's Results
North East Stars 1 (Keron Cummings 7') vs St. Ann’s Rangers 0
Defence Force 2 (Josimar Belgrave 16', Sean Narcis 84') vs San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Brent Sam 65')
North East Stars—22. Cleon John (C), 3. Kareem Richardson (Yellow Card), 7. Russell Alfred (40. Jomoul Francis 81st), 8. Adrian Noel (44. Kion Joseph 68th), 10. Keron Cummings, 12. Jayson Joseph, 14. Dwane James, 15. Glenton Wolfe, 23. Kennedy Hinkson, 25. Keryn Navarro, 18. Kaashif Thomas (6. Jeromie Williams 68th)
Unused substitutes—1. Stefan Berkeley (GK), 5. Aquil Selby, 35. Jordan Devonish, 42. Taryk Sampson
St. Ann’s Rangers—22. Christopher Biggette, 3. Al Davidson, 4. Jelani Peters (C) (Yellow Card), 8. Sedale Mc Lean (44. Shaquille Williams 66th), 9. Keron Cornwall, 11. Josh Toussaint, 10. Kennedy Isles (23. Craig Wilson 68th), 12. Tevin Gilkes, 13. Jameel Antoine, 15. Seon Thomas, 26. Nicholas Dillon
Unused substitutes—1. Junior Granger (GK), 6. Shaquille Moses, 16. David Williams, 18. Emmanuel Joseph, 21. Keon Peters
Defence Force—25. Sheldon Clarke, 2. Glynn Franklyn, 4. Dave Long, 8. Curtis Gonzales, 12. Jemel Sebro (23. Kerry Joseph 46th), 17. Ross Russell Jr., 10. Josimar Belgrave, 22. Jamali Garcia, 26. Richard Roy (9. Devorn Jorsling 78th), 99. Jerwyn Balthazar, 90. Jerlani Felix (18. Sean Narcis 68th)
Unused substitutes—9. Devorn Jorsling, 19. Dexter Pacheco, 24. Brandon Joseph, 28. Andre Marchan (GK)
San Juan Jabloteh—36. Raheem Belgrave, 22. Calib Sturge, 18. Jevon Morris (Y + Y = Red Card), 10. Kerry Baptiste (6. Dario Holmes 81st), 12. Brendon Boucaud (Yellow Card), 24. Adrian Reid, 17. Fabian Reid, 26. Josiah Trimmingham, 9. Johan Peltier (8. Newton Sterling 70th), 3. Brent Sam (7. Andell Noray 70th), 15. Isaiah Mc Intyre
Unused substitutes—13. Coneal Thomas, 30. Shane Mattis (GK), 21. Neil Mitchell, 14. Shaquille Bertrand, 23. Brendon Figueroa