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Last night the First Citizens Cup produced a thrilling double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, including the fastest goal of the 2018 edition at 30 seconds, scored by Central FC winger Tyrone Charles, whose brace secured a 2-1 win for the Couva Sharks over Defence Force FC, before a remarkable Kareem Freitas strike saw Police FC edge defending champions W Connection 1-0 in the second game.

Central, with the result, joined Defence Force on 6 points at the top of the Immortelle Group and despite occupying second position with a lesser goal-difference, the Couva Sharks should fancy their chances of advancing to the semi-finals with a top-two finish with two group matches left against Club Sando (1 July) and San Juan Jabloteh (6 July) while the Tetron Boys have one against Sando (6 July).

Club Sando (1 point, 1 game) must first tackle MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers (0 point, 2 games) from 4pm on Sunday 24 June at St. Augustine Secondary while fourth-placed Jabloteh (1 point, 2 games) are on the bye.

In the Abercrombie Group, the Richard Hood-coached Police (6 points, 2 games) moved to the top, but only ahead of Connection (6 points, 3 games) by goal difference after Freitas’ 71st-minute strike separated both sides for a rare win for the Lawmen over the Savonetta Boys.

Freitas executed great skill and composure to control off his chest to turn and thump a shot off the underside of bar and into the back of goalkeeper Julani Archibald’s net after Connection had failed to clear on a Clevon Mc Fee corner on three attempts.

In the end coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s Connection had paid the ultimate price of defeat after failing to convert a barrage of chances in the second half—most notably a 68th-minute miss by former T&T youth star Kadeem Corbin with national team goalkeeper Adrian Foncette at his mercy.

And it was no fault of a magnitude 5.3 earthquake that was felt across the island moments earlier.

But! Tyrone Charles had the supporters off their seats after only half a minute in the earlier game when he lifted a brilliantly-timed Duane Muckette feed over Defence Force goalie Sheldon Clarke to stun a side that had defeated Jabloteh 4-0 and Rangers 7-2 in their previous group matches.

Déjà vu! And bang. The Marvin Gordon-coached Tetron Boys were hit a second time—exactly the same 30 seconds—this time inside the second half when Charles latched onto a long pass on the right and smashed the ball past Clarke and into the far netting for a 2-0 Central cushion.

Central were an organized and brilliant bunch especially defensively—the best they have looked all year—though Defence Force veteran forward Devorn Jorsling was denied by the crossbar on either side of the half.

Muckette too was denied by the bar before Brent Sam on the opposite end took his tally to three-in-three when pulled a goal back for Defence Force in injury time.

The item, however, wasn’t enough for a Defence Force comeback.

“Preparations all week was about nullifying them (Defence Force) and playing on the counter,” said Central FC assistant coach Walt Noreiga who served as caretaker in absence of Stern John. John is currently in Scotland for his UEFA B licence.

“We know their strong points and we simply tried to play their 4-3-3 system to counter attack their style of play.

“It wasn’t part of the plan [to score that early on either side of the half] but it is one of the ways that we were trying to get forward as quick as possible. We know all teams start slow and that’s what we took advantage of at the start, and at the restart.”

Noriega praised his players including veterans Densill Theobald, Anthony Wolfe and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip for being professional.

“It was all part of the training. We asked [our players] to do a job (tonight) which was put in place since before the gaffer (Stern John) left. He asked me to keep working on the system and it paid dividends tonight.”

First Citizens Cup action continues today (Saturday) with North East Stars and Morvant Caledonia United clashing from 4pm at Larry Gomes Stadium in search of their opening point/s.

First Citizens Cup 2018 Results

Central FC 2 (Tyrone Charles 1’, 46’) v Defence Force FC 1 (Brent Sam 90’+2), at Ato Boldon Stadium;

Police FC 1 (Kareem Freitas 71’) v W Connection 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Game 1

Central FC: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 5.Dwight Pope (10.Keron Cummings 46th minute), 8.Akim Armstrong (29.Kerry Baptiste 88th minute), 9.Tyrone Charles (13.Rhondel Gibson 84th minute), 12.Taryk Sampson, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 17.Anthony Wolfe, 18.Densill Theobald (Capt.), 19.Jared London, 22.Jameel Neptune. 24.Duane Muckette.

Unused substitutes: 30.Keinol Paul (GK); 7.Hakim Baird, 11.Anthony Charles.

Coach: Walt Noreiga

Defence Force FC: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK); 3.Jamali Garcia, 4.Dave Long, 7.Jelani Felix (15.Shaquille Bertrand 61st minute), 8.Brent Sam, 9.Devorn Jorsling (Capt.) (11.Dwight Quintero 61st minute), 10.Hashim Arcia, 12.Jemel Sebro (16.Kellon Serrette 69th minute), 18.Reon Moore, 21.Aklie Edwards, 26.Justin Garcia.

Unused substitutes: 1.Andre Marchan (GK); 6.Rodell Elcock, 23.Kerry Joseph, 32.Jameel Cooper.

Coach: Marvin Gordon

Referee: Nicholai Nylon

Game 2

Police FC: 18.Adrian Foncette (GK) (Capt.); 3.Ryan O’Neil, 5.Kenaz Williams, 7.Kareem Perry (32.Keion Wilson 67th minute), 8.Kurdell Brathwaite, 9.Jameel Perry, 10.Kareem Freitas, 14.Caleb Sturge, 21.Todd Ryan (25.Kaashif Thomas 82nd minute), 29.Clevon Mc Fee, 36.Kadeem Riley (15.Christian Thomas 56th minute).

Unused substitutes: 22.Theon Browne (GK); 12.Nequan Caruth, 16.Joshua Leach, 33.Kemron Purcell.

Coach: Richard Hood

W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams, 5.Triston Hodge, 6.Kevon Goddard, 8.Jameel Antoine (27.Kierron Mason 64th minute), 9.Kadeem Corbin, 11.Adan Noel, 23.Kennedy Hinkson, 26.Isaiah Garcia, 99.Marcus Joseph.

Unused substitutes: 33.Jason Belfon (GK); 4.Maurice Ford, 15.Otev Lawrence, 24.Yohannes Richardson, 34.Cephas St. Rose.

Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier

Referee: Keilon Bacchus

Immortelle Group

Rank Team MP W D L GF GA GD Pts.
1 Defence Force FC 3 2 0 1 12 4 8 6
2 Central FC 2 2 0 0 4 1 3 6
3 Club Sando 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
4 San Juan Jabloteh 2 0 1 1 0 4 -4 1
5 MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers 2 0 0 2 2 9 -7 0

Abercrombie Group

Rank Team MP W D L GF GA GD Pts.
1 Police FC 2 2 0 0 6 1 5 6
2 W Connection 3 2 0 1 5 3 2 6
3 Point Fortin Civic 2 1 0 1 4 4 0 3
4 Morvant Caledonia United 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
5 North East Stars 2 0 0 2 1 7 -6 0