Defence Force will play in the first knock out final of the 2012/13 season after a 2-1 win over St Ann’s Rangers this evening in the First Citizens Cup semifinal at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
The army/coast guard combination would face the winner of tonight’s meeting between Caribbean champions Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA and runners-up DirecTV W Connection next Friday at the same venue.
Almost certainly, Defence Force coach Ross Russell would need an improved performance next week if he expects to get near the trophy.
The “Teteron Boys” met Rangers, two weeks ago, in the opening Digicel Pro League fixture and the final scoreline was identical. The pattern of play, however, could hardly have been more different.
In a scrappy affair, Rangers created enough chances to have won the match comfortably within the first hour and then enjoyed a numerical advantage for the final 30 minutes as opposing defender Rodell Elcock was ejected for a second yellow card.
Somehow, Rangers contrived to squander them all save a penalty decision and paid the price for this genorosity.
Overrun two weeks ago, the St Ann’s squad was more compact in the First Citizens Cup and would not be stretched by a Defence Force side missing adventurous left back Aklie Edwards. And responsible ball movement saw Rangers create several scoring opportunities too as a bewildered Defence Force team found itself on the ropes.
Hector Sam, who scored a brilliant goal when the two teams last met, might have had another today but for a fine save by army custodian Kevin Graham low to his right in the 13th minute.
Rangers captain Mikhail Awai threatened too with a volley from just outside the opposing penalty box that dipped just over the bar in the 20th minute
Seven minutes later, Graham could only look on and pray as a Sam cross eliminated the Defence Force backline and found Andrew Smith unmarked at the far post. Six yards from an open goalmouth, Smith leaned backwards and cushioned his header. Wide.
Remarkably, Rangers conjured up another sitter in the first half.
Caledonia edge Connection for First Citizens Cup Final spot.
Caledonia AIA are one match away from defending the First Citizens Cup after edging six-time winner W Connection 1-0 in semi-final two at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday night.
Substitute Keyon Edwards had the easy task of guiding in a Densil Theobald cross near the back post in the 89th minute to beat goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams and break a dreadful deadlock.
Edwards celebrated the item along with his teammates but it was the determined run by substitute Theobald working his way into the box and rounding defender Kern Cupid to make the cross that received a generous applause.
Caledonia secured its spot in the Final on Friday 5 October at the same Hasely Crawford Stadium against two-time winner Defence Force from 8:30pm. Defence Force marched away 2-1 winner over St. Ann's Rangers in the earlier contest at the Port of Spain venue.
Caledonia wasted the opportunity of the opening half when Kareem Joseph struck the side netting off a rebound of Trayon Bobb's effort in the 45th minute.
After the interval Connection substitute Joevin Jones teamed up with Rennie Britto playing a diagonal pass forward, but the return pass across the area was met later by Jones who only found the side netting in the 48th minute.
Jones struck the side netting again in the 61st minute, and in the 78th minute he flashed an effort across the face of goal after he was played in by Shahdon Winchester's looped pass.
Connection failed to find the target again ten minutes from time, when Britto spanked a low effort wide of the far post.
W Connection 0--1 Caledonia AIA
; Keyon Edwards 89'
W Connection--Jan Michael Williams (capt) (Yellow Card), Joel Leslie Russell, Daneil Cyrus, Mathew Bartholomew (Jomal Williams 29th), Stephano Rissell (Joevin Jones 46th), Hashim Arcia (Shahdon Winchester 64th), Kern Cupid, Gerrard Williams, Clyde Leon, Rennie Britto, Kemuel Rivers
Coach--Stuart Charles Fevrier
Caledonia AIA--Glenroy Samuel, Stephan David (capt.), Kurlon Ferguson (Densill Theobald 41st), Nuru Abdullah Muhammad, Conrad Smith (Ataullah Guerra 66th), Abdallah Phillips (Keyon Edwards 74th), Colin Nelson, Kareem Joseph, Trayon Bobb, Walter Moore, Jamal Gay
Army shield off Rangers to advance into First Citizens Cup Final.
Second half goals by Jerwyn Balthazar and Kevon Carter earned 10-man Defence Force a 2-1 First Citizens Cup semi-final win over St. Ann's Rangers on Friday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The victory landed the Soldiers' fifth (2000, 2002, 2004, 2009 & 2012) First Citizens Cup Final. Defence Force won the title in 2002 and 2009.
Defence Force advances into the Final on Friday 5 October against defending champion Caledonia AIA, 1-0 winner over six-time winner, W Connection, in the second semi-final at the Port of Spain venue.
But Friday's match will definitely be remembered as one of the toughest journeys to a First Citizens Cup Final.
Rangers dominated the first period and should have gone up by two goals in the first period.
Twenty-seven minutes into the match Hector Sam, the liveliest of Rangers, did well down the right showing good composure and unselfishness to find Andrew Smith at the back post, however the rookie headed disappointingly wide unmarked only foot away from goal.
And in the 37th minute Sam squared a dangerous ball across the six yard area however Cameron Roget was a fraction late hitting into a defensive block.
Rangers were made to pay in the second half against the Ross Russel coached Defence Force which lost defender Rodell Elcock to a second yellow card for a foul on Jamal Jack.
Balthazar fired the Soldiers ahead in the 67th minute from inside the area.
Earlier warnings were sent in the 62nd minute after quick exchanges Decorn Jorsling forced a blockout Rangers goalie Zane Coker.
And a minute before the opening item from a long kick forward by Graham, Jorsling raced past Kadeem Drayton on the left and whipped a shot across the face of goal.
Carter later made it 2-0 slamming past goalkeeper Coker after another all out raid on the Rangers goal.
The Soldiers also missed the target by inches in the 55th minute when Ross Russell Jr. dispossessed left wing-back Christon Thomas and curled a shot at goal.
But it wasn't all Defence Force in the second period.
Rangers' Jason Marcano also missed the target with a curling effort in the 59th minute and Sam who tested goalkeeper Kevin Graham early in the first period, did so again in the 69th minute.
Marcano followed up with a low shot that was easily wrapped by Graham in the 71st minute and defender Elijah Belgrave fired just wide from distance six minutes later.
Rangers finally pulled a goal back in the 84th minute through a converted penalty by Devon Modeste beating Graham on the right after a handball call was given off a somewhat tame substitute Nicholas Castellanos attempt at goal.
Defence Force 2--1 St. Ann's Rangers
Jerwyn Balthazar 67', Kevon Carter 79' ; Devon Modeste 84'(pen)
Defence Force--Kevin Graham, Corey Rivers, Marvin Jones, Devin Jordan, Rodell Elcock (Yellow+Yellow=Red Card), Jerwyn Balthazar (Yellow Card), Curtis Gonzales, Devorn Jorsling (Keston Williams 75th), Richard Roy (Jemel Sebro 90th), Ross Russell Jr., Kevon Carter
St. Ann's Rangers--Zane Coker, Mikhail Awai (capt.), Kadeem Drayton, Jason Marcano (Yellow Card), Hector Sam, Andrew Smith (Nicolas Castellanos 75th), Christon Thomas, Jamal Jack, Elijah Belgrave, Devon Modeste, Cameron Roget