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AC Port of Spain's Radanfah Abu Bakr (#6) and Robert Primus (#12) contest a header against a Moca FC player in a Concacaf Caribbean Cup match at Estadio Cibao, Santiago De Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic on August 25th 2023.

Whatever could have gone wrong, went wrong for AC Port of Spain in the first half of their 2023 CONCACAF Caribbean Cup Championship Group A preliminary round match last night against visitors Golden Lion of Martinique.

A late Kevin Parsemain penalty in the 83rd minute saw AC Port of Spain lose 3-2 to the Martiniquan champions at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, having at one point come from two-goals down to equalise. With Jamaican team Cavalier FC on seven points after beating Moca of Dominican Republic 3-0 on Tuesday, and Defence Force second on four points, AC Port of Spain have been eliminated with one match to go.

Once again, there was no doubt that AC Port of Spain was the better team, but defensive errors saw the Trinidad and Tobago Premier Football League runners-up trailing by two goals just past the quarter hour mark.

During that period, T&T national team midfielder John-Paul Rochford also hit a post, and strike partner Mark Ramdeen spurned another chance in the opening minute. Given a clear but slightly wide path to goal from Rochford’s excellent pass, Ramdeen unwisely chose to cut inside, allowing a defender to block his eventual attempt.

At the other end, the decision-making was far better from Martinique veteran Parsemain, who was quick to pounce on a weak back pass from Malik Meres, the nervous and relatively new Capital Boyz right-back. Parsemain quickly funnelled a low pass inside of Mieres, and found Thierry Catherine, who beat goalkeeper Marvin Phillip with a low shot for 1-0 in the second minute.

Rochford was perfectly placed to equalise when facing only goalkeeper Giles Meeslien, after collecting Duane Muckette’s ball over the top. But after hitting the woodwork with his first effort, Rochford also failed to chip the goalie.

Similarly, as with the opening goal, the visitors scored within a minute of almost conceding. This time defender Robert Primus scored an own goal, slicing the ball past his goalkeeper Phillip when trying to clear a cross, making it 2-0 in the 16th minute.

Central defender Radanfah Abu Bakr headed in a free-kick to bring AC Port of Spain closer at 2-1 in the 27th, and the Capital Boyz launched into full attack, pressing the visitors back for the rest of the half.

Coach Walt Noreiga tossed the dice with a triple substitution in the 42nd minute and almost had immediate dividends when substitute Tyrone Charles escaped up the flank and cut back perfectly to Rochford, who had a powerful shot defected wide, so many of the Golden Lions footballers having been in their own penalty area to defend. Noreiga had made all of his five changes early in the second half and by the 68th minute, AC Port of Spain were level at 2-2, a combination of Charles’ dogged persistence, Sedale Mc Lean’s ball across the box and Jameel Neptune’s pressure forcing an own goal.

The home team went into all-out attack, stretching Golden Lion but also leaving themselves vulnerable. And for a third time, AC Port of Spain conceded within a minute of almost scoring. This time, Charles struck the woodwork from a wide angle in the 81st minute, and at the other end, notoriously slow Abu Bakr lunged in recklessly on an attacker.

Following an injury delay, Parsemain converted for 3-2, despite goalkeeper Phillip getting a hand onto the ball. This time, there was no comeback, although goalkeeper Meeslien had to make at least one more big save to keep the Lions ahead.

SOURCE: T&T Express