Former champions Morvant Caledonia United and Police FC, both of the Pro League, have booked their places into the 2017 FA Trophy semi-final round which is tentatively set November 26.
Morvant Caledonia edged Super League side Club Sando Moruga 1-0 courtesy Kareem Joseph’s late converted penalty before Police rallied from a goal down to beat rivals Defence Force 3-1 to complete the first quarter-final double-header at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training field on Tuesday afternoon.
Jemel Sebro fired Defence Force in front seconds into the second half, but a Todd Ryan equaliser from the penalty spot and late goals from Elijah Belgrave and Joshua Leach saw the Lawmen run away comfortable winners.
Two more Pro League-vs-Super League clashes will complete the quarter-final round on Wednesday (today) in another double-header at the same HCS training field with Point Fortin Civic taking on 1976 FC Phoenix of Tobago from 4pm and W Connection against Guaya United from 6:15pm.
Morvant Caledonia, a far cry from their 2008, 2011-12 and 2012-13 FA Trophy winning teams, struggled to find rhythm against the second tier Club Sando Moruga. But chances did come with Lester Joseph spilling overbar with the goal at his mercy in the 11th minute and quarter-of-an-hour later Quincy Ballah directed his shot too close to goalkeeper Alexei Julien, who put the attempt behind for a corner.
Julien, a former top-flight goalkeeper with Club Sando’s Pro League outfit, also made a diving save to keep out substitute Rufuson Pierre Louis’ half volley in the second half and moments earlier was lucky to see a Joseph free kick fly inches wide of his far top corner.
Julien, though, was wrong-sided in the 90th minute by Joseph, the last remnant of Morvant Caledonia’s FA Trophy winning teams of the past, who was clinical from the spot to put his side in front 1-0 after CS Moruga substitute defender Kernel Hamilton upended MCU substitute Sedale Mc Lean in the box.
High praise, however, should go Glenroy Samuel’s way after the Trinidad and Tobago and Morvant Caledonia ‘keeper pulled off back-to-back saves in stoppage-time to deny CS Moruga’s Kyle Morgan and Marcus John to preserve his side’s narrow advantage and eventual victory.
The second game, as expected from the oldest surviving rivalry in Trinidad and Tobago Football, did produce higher intensity, but a dog fight between six-time FA Trophy champions, Defence Force, and three-time champions, Police.
Defence Force, undefeated against the Blues in two previous meetings this season with a win and a draw in the Pro League, grabbed the lead on the restart through winger Sebro following a wonderful team move.
But the Army/Coast Guard combination, who will try to successfully defend the First Citizens Cup when they tackle W Connection in the 2017 final of that tournament on November 17, had their lead taken from under them when ten minutes later Ryan (T), fresh from scoring the winner in a 3-2 Pro League victory over San Juan Jabloteh last Sunday, converted from the spot to level the Lawmen 1-1.
Belgrave then put Richard Hood’s side ahead for the first time for a 2-1 lead on 88 minutes after a flurry of chances which saw defender Ryan O’Neil and midfielder Kaashif Thomas -- twice -- miss the target.
Belgrave had missed great chance off a low Keion Wilson cross six minutes into the game, but made no mistake in finding the back of goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke’s net from close range when the ball, played into the area from a right side Ryan cross, fell to his feet.
Belgrave, who scored one and set up another against Jabloteh, repeated the statistic in a space of three days.
Police had done everything possible—even dished out the better share of physical blows—and Defence Force were unable to drag themselves back into the game which ended when Blues’ substitute Leach, after a couple attempts to control a Belgrave cross into the box, fired past a late Clarke challenge for the 3-1 finish.
Morvant Caledonia United 1 (Kareem Joseph 90’ pen.) vs Club Sando Moruga 0, at Hasely Crawford Stadium training field;
Police FC 3 (Todd Ryan 56’ pen., Elijah Belgrave 88’, Joshua Leach 90’+5) vs Defence Force 1 (Jemel Sebro 46’), at Hasely Crawford Stadium training field.
Club Sando Moruga: 33.Alexei Julien (GK); 4.Aaron Julien, 8.Kyle Morgan, 12.Simeon Granger, 13.Amin Julien, 14.Glendon Phillip (5.Andrew Samuel 71st minute), 16.Donrick Mascall (15.Keston London 75th minute), 17.Marcus John, 19.Tyrone La Fortune, 25.Maurice Dick (29.Andy London 35th minute), 30.Sharkell Louison.
Unused substitutes: 6.Kernell Hamilton, 7.Akeil London, 22.Kervelle Turner.
Coach: Eric Gill.
Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Glenroy Samuel (GK); 3.Richard Williams, 8.Anthony Charles, 11.Quincy Ballah (29.Kelsey Benjamin 40th minute), 12.Kareem Joseph (Capt.), 15.Otev Lawrence, 17.Kerry Daniel, 18.Maestro Mensah, 22.Joshua Alexander, 23.Lester Joseph (9.Sedale Mc Lean 75th minute), 28.Renaldo Francois (13.Rufuson Pierre Louis 80th minute).
Unused substitutes: 6.Taje Commissiong, 10.Sheldon Holder, 14.Simeon Bailey, 31.De Journ Charles.
Coach: Abdallah Phillips.
Referee: Kwinsi Williams.
Police FC: 18.Adrian Foncette (GK); 3.Ryan O’Neil, 6.Jibri Mc David, 10.Kareem Freitas, 12.Nequan Caruth (40.Xavier Wheeler 63rd minute), 17.Dexter Alleyne, 20.Elijah Belgrave, 21.Todd Ryan, 25.Kaashif Thomas, 29.Clevon Mc Fee, 32.Keion Wilson (16.Joshua Leach 86th minute).
Unused substitutes: 4.Kadeem Boyce, 7.Kareem Perry, 13.Dillon Kirton, 22.Theon Browne (GK), 23.Shakuile Williams.
Coach: Richard Hood.
Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK); 3.Jamali Garcia, 4.Dave Long (45.Dylon King 75th minute), 5.Jerome Mc Intyre, 9.Devorn Jorsling, 12.Jemel Sebro (39.Akil Morris 69th minute), 13.Marvin Jones (15.Shaquille Bertrand 84th minute), 17.Curtis Gonzales, 18.Reon Moore, 37.Kassim Kellar, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.).
Unused substitutes: 2.Glyn Franklyn, 8.Christopher Durity, 23.Kerry Joseph, 80.Aaron Enil.
Coach: Marvin Gordon.
Referee: Nicholai Nyron.