Devorn Jorsling, perhaps spurred on by Kerry Baptiste nearing his lead atop the Pro League’s all-time scoring chart, scored his 154th and 155th Pro League goals on either side of the break in a 3-2 Defence Force win over MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers on Friday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Trinidad and Tobago international Hashim Arcia grabbed the winner for the Army/Coast Guard combination after Rangers had first levelled the scores before going ahead through two spectacular individual strikes – both in the second half – with Gerald Meloney and Kathon St. Hillaire producing their debut goals in style.
The win moved Marvin Gordon’s side up two spots on the PL standings into fifth with 12 points, two points behind fourth-positioned San Juan Jabloteh and two points ahead of three-time defending champions Central FC, who both have two games in hand, while Rangers remains bottom of the 10-team standings and tied on seven points with Morvant Caledonia United who must visit Point Fortin Civic from 6pm at the Mahaica Oval on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, W Connection and Central FC will renew arguably the fiercest rivalry of the Pro League from 8pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium following a 6pm top-of-the-table clash between Club Sando and North East Stars. Jabloteh meanwhile, must take on hosts Police FC from 6pm at the Police Barracks all after competing in this weekend’s FA Trophy 2017 Round of 64.
Jorsling, in a rare start this season due to absence, fired Defence Force ahead from the penalty spot in the second minute for his first goal of the season, wrong-siding Rangers goalkeeper Cleon John after referee Cecile Hinds ruled a foul in the box against the St. Ann’s club.
But Rangers later levelled the score at 1-1 less than two minutes into the second half when Meloney, from almost 30 yards out, beat a fully stretched Defence Force goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke.
Clarke was helpless again in the 55th minute when St. Hillaire, from inside the right of the area, lashed a powerful strike off the outside of his right boot to swing the ball beautifully into the Defence Force far top corner for a 2-1 Rangers’ lead.
Rangers, despite being without the offensive prowess of Xae-Pierre De Fou, Anselm ‘Worm’ Jackson and recent signing Neil Gerard Mitchell, scorer in last Sunday’s 1-0 win over Morvant Caledonia United, were a spirited bunch under new coach Adrian Romain but showed defensive flaws – especially defending on crosses – and were made to pay despite the heroics of shot-stopper John.
John, the Wendy’s Player of the Month for June 2017, had made no less than seven saves inclusive of twice denying winger Reon Moore and a tricky attempt by Defence Force captain Jerwyn Balthazar.
Jorsling, who was denied by the upright after heading a right side Shaquille Bertrand free kick towards goal and twice by John, grabbed the Defence Force equaliser in the 57th minute, putting the scores at 2-2 with a cool finish off a low Bertrand cross to move five goals ahead of North East Stars attacker Kerry Baptiste who scored his 150th Pro League goal in a 1-1 draw with Jabloteh last Tuesday.
Another cross, this time swung in by Moore, proved damaging for Rangers—a brave and youthful side against a full strength Army/Coast Guard combination on the night—in the 65th minute when Arcia sent a powerful header past John to make it 3-2.
Talented Rangers midfielder Omari Lezama had an ambitious go at goal in search of an equaliser but his strike from distance flew just wide upright before Clarke produced a fine save to deny substitute Kazim Donald a minute from time and Defence Force held on for victory—their first since hammering W Connection 4-1 on July 29 while their previous outing ended in a 2-2 draw with rivals Police FC on August 11.
St. Ann’s Rangers 2 (Gerald Meloney 47’, Kathon St. Hillaire 55’) vs Defence Force 3 (Devorn Jorsling 2’ pen., 57’, Hashim Arcia 65’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.
St. Ann’s Rangers: 1.Cleon John (GK) (Capt.), 3.Kareem Eastman, 4.Shane Sandy, 5.Gerald Meloney (11.Kazim Donald 56th minute), 6.Omari Lezama, 15.Keshawn Hutchinson, 17.Hakim Baird, 18.Kristian Maloney, 23.Kathon St. Hillaire, 31.Malique Gumbs (21.Micah Lansiquot 82nd minute), 40.Frederick Commissiong (28.Shem Alexander 80th minute).
Unused substitutes: 25.Nathan Fergus; 2.Keon Figaro, 45.Alexis Blackwell, 50.Shaquille Hinds.
Coach: Adrian Romain
Defence Force: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK), 3.Jamali Garcia, 4.Dave Long (16.Kellon Serrette 58th minute), 9.Devorn Jorsling, 10.Hashim Arcia (45.Dylon King 90th minute), 13.Marvin Jones, 15.Shaquille Bertrand, 17.Curtis Gonzales, 18.Reon Moore (8.Christopher Durity 74th minute), 26.Justin Garcia, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.).
Unused substitutes: 1.Andre Marchan (GK), 12.Jemel Sebro, 19.Thurlani George, 39.Akil Morris.
Coach: Marvin Gordon
Referee: Cecile Hinds.