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La Horquetta Rangers pose for a team photo before facing Central Soccer World on June 17th 2022.
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The boys from East Trinidad — Terminix La Horquetta Rangers Football Club — walked away with the $100,000 first prize after surviving plenty pressure when held by defending champions Defence Force to an exciting 2-2 draw on a rain-soaked La Horquetta Recreation Ground on Friday.

Rangers finished second to Defence Force in the Ascension Invitational Tournament 2019, second in the First Citizens Cup 2019 and also placed second to Defence Force in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League 2019-2020. But the 2022 Ascension Championship is the first piece of silverware won by the club.

With league matches left against slumping Cunupia FC and in-form Deportivo Point Fortin, Rangers still have the chance to finish the season unbeaten.

Meanwhile, Defence Force (35 points), third-placed Police FC (33 points) and fourth-placed Deportivo Point Fortin (30 points) are all still in the battle for second place which offers a $50,000 prize and also the chance to join Rangers in a season-ending tournament involving the top two Jamaican Premier League teams and the top two finishers in the Ascension Tournament. A large part of that equation may be solved by today’s meeting between contenders Police and Deportivo at the St James Barracks from 5 p.m.

On Friday, Defence Force dominated the early running in the top-two showdown and were ahead in just the eighth minute when Brent Sam headed home Jelani Felix’s corner kick for a league-leading 15th goal of the season.

Under plenty pressure early on, Rangers worked their way back into the match and were level in the 23rd minute from a deflected Kaihim Thomas free kick which deflected off the defensive wall and flew past goalkeeper Aaron Enill.

The earlier pattern continued early in the second half, with Defence Force pushing forward and Rangers looking to break on the counter-attack. Eventually, it was Rangers who struck, with substitute Kadeem Corbin forcing in the rebound for 2-1, following a block on Ataulla Guerra’s attempt on goal.

Defence Force dominated the second half possession but Rangers were motivated to keep them out, while themselves only having the occasional attack on the break. While Defence Force often failed in their execution in the attacking third, it was also stellar work from Rangers’ goalkeeper Jabari St Hillaire which kept them at bay.

Asked what was the difference between the teams in a post-match interview, Army coach Hutson Charles replied: “I think it was Jabari. He had a really good game.”

St Hillaire made crucial saves and won Man-of-the-Match honours. As the home crowd went through the tension-filled final quarter, St Hillaire twice bravely saved at the feet of Kathon St Hilliare and Dwight Quintero. He had earlier also produced an outstanding flying tip to keep Sam’s hot free kick from entering the top corner, and was lucky when Rivaldo Coryat’s left-footer sneaked past the post with five minutes left.

But there was nothing St Hillaire could do to stop Reon Moore’s wonder goal which produced a superb equaliser at 2-2 in the 90th minute. With the ball looping inside the area, it went from Moore’s chest, to feet, and into the net in one motion, never touching the ground. Shocked, even the home fans applauded.

The Army launched into full attack consequently and the final minutes were tension-filled and heated with both Army midfielder Kevon Goddard and Rangers defender Jesus Perez temporarily forgetting that they were former team-mates on Trinidad and Tobago’s 2015 Caribbean Championship-winning team. Both were given red cards and sent off during a heated moment. However, Rangers survived the late test, to win the title and a first piece of silverware since moving East to La Horquetta.

“It was not easy,” stated relieved keeper St Hillaire.

Meanwhile, Army coach Charles said: “I thought it was a fair result. Both teams came out and played really good football. Let me congratulate the Rangers team, they deserve it. They played unbeaten in the tournament so far and they deserve it.”

Rangers head coach Dave Quamina was beaming a brighter than usual smile, having won the title. He thanked everyone who was instrumental in their success.

“You live for these nights,” he stated. “Tonight was a good game on a heavy ground; a fast-paced game.”

RESULTS:

Terminix La Horquetta Rangers 2 (Kahim Thomas 23rd, Kadeem Corbin 54th) Defence Force 2 (Brent Sam 8th, Reon Moore 90th)

AC Port of Spain vs Central FC (Postponed)

UPCOMING MATCHES:

(Today)

Police FC vs Deportivo Point Fortin, Police Barracks, St James, 5 p.m.


SOURCE: T&T Express