Holders Defence Force completed the semi-final matchups of this season's Digicel Pro Bowl with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over San Juan Jabloteh in day two quarter-final double-header last night (Thursday) at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Midfielder Hashim Arcia scored a second-half quick-fire double to trump a first-half penalty strike by Jabloteh's Jamaican defender Adrian Reid to march coach Marvin Gordon's side into Sunday's semis along with Central FC, Police FC and Club Sando.
Sando, 2-0 winners over Ma Pau Stars in last night's earlier quarter-final, will meet recently crowned Digicel Pro League champions Central in Sunday's first semi-final from 4pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium before Defence Force and Police FC clash in a battle-of-the-armed-forces from 6pm.
Central had crushed minnows St. Ann's Rangers 8-0 and Police, in the upset of the tournament, defeated league runners-up W Connection 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Wednesday's quarter-final double-header at the same Couva venue.
Last night's action, however, saw Akeem Humphrey seal Sando's spot in the semis after setting up the opening item in the 2-0 win over Ma Pau, who stood without regular coach Ross Russell.
Kevin Jeffrey, caretaker over the last two weeks in absence of Russell, who is currently on international duty as goalkeeper coach of the Trinidad and Tobago Under-20s, saw his side fall behind on 53 minutes when Kevon Piper buried a Humphrey cross past goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel, with the Stars' defence stretched apart.
Thirteen minutes later, and another lapse in the back by the Stars and Humphrey was able to let off a wonderful strike beyond Samuel from inside the box to make it 2 nil for coach Angus Eve's side.
Earlier, the Sando captain was unlucky not to score four minutes before the break when his effort deflected wide. And from the resulting corner swung in by Nical Stephens, an unchallenged Trevin Latapy headed wide.
Sando goalkeeper Kelvin Henry preserved his side's clean sheet ahead of Sunday's semis with a top-drawer save in stoppage-time to put overbar a bold overhead attempt by Stars midfielder Elton John.
In the second game, Defence Force were trailing one nil just before the half-hour mark when Adrian Reid converted from the spot after a handball was ruled against defender Curtis Gonzales to put coach Keith Jeffrey's Jabloteh in front.
Reid was brilliant from the spot against a wrong-sided goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke, who had earlier produced a magnificent one-handed save to keep out a header from Jamal Gay off Tyrone Charles’ left side cross.
However two second-half goals in a space of four minutes by Arcia saw Defence Force top Jabloteh for the final spot in the semis.
Arcia first equalised four minutes into the second half with a 25-yard left-footer which took a deflection to leave a beaten goalkeeper Javon Sample frozen at his goal line.
Sample was beaten again in the 52nd-minute when Arcia, under heavy contest from defender Aquil Selby, curled a right-footed strike into the back of the Jabloteh net for the 2-1 lead after he was picked out in the area by a left side Kerry Joseph cross.
The Defence Force star, however, failed to continue beyond the 76th-minute and had to be stretchered off following a challenge by Jabloteh hard-man and captain, Jamaican Damian Williams.
Jabloteh’s best efforts to pull level came from another Jamaican midfielder, Keithy Simpson, who headed overbar five minutes from time after twice hitting just wide of the far upright.
Defence Force substitute Levi Serries came closest to adding a third for his side, but was unable to control his effort three minutes from time following a spill by Sample, who was put to task by Jamille Boatswain who eluded left-back Josiah Trimmingham to enter the area.
Defence Force, though, must do without defender Justin Garcia against the highly motivated Police on Sunday. Garcia, who was cautioned in the first half, received an automatic red card in stoppage-time for a foul on Jabloteh forward Jamal Gay.
Quarter Final Results
Ma Pau Stars 0 vs Club Sando 2 (Kevon Piper 63’, Akeem Humphrey 76’), at Ato Boldon Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Adrian Reid 29’ penalty) vs Defence Force 2 (Hashim Arcia 49’, 52’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Ma Pau Stars: 22.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 2.Carlos Edwards (Capt.), 4.Kerry Baptiste (10.De Fou Xae Pierre 65th minute), 8.Adrian Noel (6.Leon Whyle 85th minute), 11.Elton John, 14.Chike Sullivan (16.Kareem Eastman 75th minute), 17.Hayden Tinto, 18.Jordan Devonish (Yellow Card), 19.Glenton Wolffe, 23.Akiel Guevara, 25.Kern Navarro.
Unused substitutes: 1.De Andre Villaroel (GK), 3.Hakim Baird, 20.Quincy Charles.
Assistant coach: Kevin Jeffrey
Club Sando: 34.Kelvin Henry (GK), 5.Nical Stephens, 6.Kemuel Rivers, 7.Akeem Humphrey (Capt.), 8.Kevon Piper, 9.Keron Cornwall (11.Joel Kevin Lewis 92nd minute), 13.Akeem Roach (10.Shaquille Holder 92nd minute), 17.Jared London (Yellow Card), 18.Trevin Latapy, 23.Nicholas Thomas, 27.Jayson Joseph.
Unused substitutes: 4.Rondell Payne, 12.Michael Basdeo, 16.Anderson Toussaint, 21.Sharkeel Donatien, 33.Alexei Julien (GK).
Coach: Angus Eve
Referee: Keilon Bacchus
San Juan Jabloteh: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 7.Jamal Gay, 9.Keithy Simpson, 10.Tyrone Charles (19.Aaquil Campbell 82nd minute), 11.Damian Williams (Capt.), 17.Josiah Trimmingham, 18.Jevon Morris, 21.Aquil Selby (Yellow Card) (12.Kion Joseph 63rd minute), 23.Kennedy Hinkson (13.Kadeem Corbin 70th minute), 24.Adrian Reid, 27.Nathan Lewis.
Unused substitutes: 35.Andrew Durant (GK), 5.Elijah Manners, 6.Akeem Benjamin, 14.Vernon Mills.
Coach: Keith Jeffrey
Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 6.Rodell Elcock, 7.Jamille Boatswain (9,Devorn Jorsling 89th minute), 8.Christopher Durity, 10.Hashim Arcia (20.Levi Serries 76th minute), 13.Marvin Jones (32.Jameel Cooper 82nd minute), 17.Curtis Gonzales, 21.Aklie Edwards, 23.Kerry Joseph (Yellow Card), 26.Justin Garcia (Yellow Card + Yellow Card = Red), 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.).
Unused substitutes: 14.Darryl Trim, 22.Anthony Charles, 35.Tirek George, 94.Keron Fox.
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Referee: Crystal Sobers
Upcoming Semi Final Round Fixtures
(Sunday 12 February 2017)
Central FC vs Club Sando—4pm, Ato Boldon Stadium
Police FC vs Defence Force—6pm, Ato Boldon Stadium