Led by a pair of goals from striker Richard Roy, Defence Force registered an emphatic 5-2 win over Caledonia AIA to lift the Digicel Pro Bowl on Thursday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The soldiers avoided a third straight Final defeat against Caledonia this season having lost the Finals of the FA Trophy and Lucozade Sport Goal Shield against the Morvant/Laventille club.
Roy, very aware that a top drawer performance was needed in his team’s final match on the TT Pro League calendar, found the back of the net twice in the first half while teammates Ross Russell Jr., substitute Glynn Franklyn and Jerwyn Balthazar picked up a goal each.
Roy shared the Most Goals award with Russell Jr., both having four (4) goals each in the tournament, but stood alone with the MVP award during the presentation.
Roy was a threat from early hammering just wide of the upright from a set piece early into the match, and in the 26th minute he drove a low shot a couple feet away from the same left upright.
And in the same 26th minute the Ross Russell coached Defence Force picked up its opening item for a 1-0 score when Roy turned brilliantly inside the area and whipped a shot past Caledonia's Jamaican goalie Kevin Graham.
Caledonia then leveled the scores 1-1 from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute when right wingback Kareem Joseph buried the ball into the roof of the net against Defence Force goalie Kevin Graham who ironically carries the same name as his opposite number.
It was from a foul by Devin Jordan against Walter Moore inside the area that referee Neil Brizan awarded Caledonia the penalty.
But Roy responded in the 45th minute when he turned his marker and slipped a shot past Graham for a 2-1 advantage ending a brilliant play from the soldiers with midfielder Curtis Gonzales the provider by slipping a neat pass to the ace forward.
The Soldiers then made it 3-1 with a stunning item seconds inside the second period in which Ross Russell Jr. blasted a left footed strike past Caledonia’s Graham.
Caledonia meantime needed someone more than former Defence Force ace, Devorn Jorsling upfront as the forward was limited to just a shot across the face of goal minutes into the match.
Coach Jamaal Shabazz introduced speedy Trevin Caesar by replacing Sheldon Holder at the break and the Tobagonian made a huge impact for the Morvant/Laventille club which leaves for the Cayman Islands on Friday for upcoming Caribbean Union Football Union Second Round Group Four matches from May 20-24.
Ceasar was just too high in the 55th minute from distance but made no mistake in the 69th minute blasting into an exposed net from close range on the right to reduce the deficit 2-3.
Caesar was alive on the end of a pass inside the area after the intended target, Jorsling, was bundled to the ground at the edge of the six yard area.
However it was far from a comeback by Caledonia, also winners of the First Citizens Cup, attempting its fourth title this season.
Defence Force added a fourth item in the 81st minute when substitute Glynn Franklyn towered inside the area to powerfully head in a freekick by another substitute Kerry Joseph for a 4-2 score.
And in the 90th minute teammate Jerwyn Balthazar finally got his name on the scoresheet by smashing a powerful shot past a hapless Graham for a 5-2 Defence Force.
It was a much deserved item for Balthazar who was denied by Graham in the 25th and 29th minutes, and also spilled just overbar from distance in the 51st minute.
Caledonia AIA 2--5 Defence Force
Kareem Joseph 33'(pen), Trevin Caesar 69' ; Richard Roy 26', 45', Ross Russell Jr. 46', Glynn Franklyn 81', Jerwyn Balthazar 90'+
Caledonia AIA—Kevin Graham, Stephan David (capt.), Abdallah Phillip (Conrad Smith 73rd), Sheldon Holder (Trevin Caesar 46th), Colin Nelson, Cornelius Stewart (Trayon Bobb 65th), Keyon Edwards, Kareem Joseph, Walter Moore(yellow card), Kemron Purcell, Devorn Jorsling.
Defence Force—Kevin Graham, Jahvon Neptune (capt.) (Kerry Joseph 61st), Rodell Elcock, Aklie Edwards (yellow card), Devin Jordan (yellow card), Ross Russell Jr. (Michael Edwards 80th), Curtis Gonzales, Marvin Jones, Josimar Belgrave (Glynn Franklyn 75th), Richard Roy, Jerwyn Balthazar.
Russell relishes Pro Bowl victory.
T&T Newsdsy Reports.
DEFENCE COACH Ross Russell is relishing his team’s 5-2 spanking of Caledonia AIA to claim the 2011-2012 Digicel Pro Bowl title on Thursday night.
Speaking after the final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, Russell said, “it feels great.
“We have been hitting the buzzer (but) we haven’t been getting the door to open, for (us) to win a trophy,” said the Defence Force tactician. “As a coach, when you win the last game of the season, and you win it like this, I will imagine how (Manchester) City feels. Now I’m feeling that way.
“It comes right at the end and it comes at the right time, winner-takes-all and we take all,” he added, referring to the winner-takes-all $100,000 jackpot.
Defence Force entered the Pro League season in December, following the nationwide State of Emergency.
They relinquished their League crown to W Connection and lost to Caledonia in their two previous knockout crowns this year – 1-0 in the FA Trophy and 3-1 in the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield.
Reflecting on the season, Russell said, “I think the season was good for me. I wouldn’t say great because we (would have) like to win the league every year.
“But I think it was good because the guys gave all they could give, with the limited time they had. I think they worked their butts off to get where they are,” he added. “I think we reached all the finals which we could reach, which is a plus because last (season) we were in flying form but we didn’t reach all the finals.
“This year, we came in late but reached all the finals, with some of my senior players out. So it was a great feeling.”
Defence Force were unable to use regular players Corey Rivers (captain), Keston Williams, Sean Narcis and Kevon Carter for the Pro Bowl due to work commitments, but Russell’s son, Ross Russell junior, and right-back Marvin Jones, had important roles in this competition.
“All I really wanted was for the youngsters to believe,” said Russell. “We have (over) 30 players and I think, especially in the Pro Bowl, the Defence Force younger players proved themselves.”
He continued, “you can see young Ross Russell, getting in there and scoring four goals in a tournament like this. The future is bright for Defence Force. (The players) worked very hard, they worked good together.”
Looking ahead at his team, Russell noted, “we have some players still to bring in. (There are) some fellas from the reserve team (who) are not employed with the Defence Force as yet.
“We need to get them in, but the core we have is very tough to get in anyway. So we’ll see what the future brings for the rest of guys who want to come,” he ended.
… Defence Force seize Pro Bowl title
By: Lasana Liburd (wired868).
The Trinidad and Tobago soldiers faced more than their share of defiance in the 2011/12 Pro League season. But Thursday night was not one of those moments.
In the 2012 Digicel Pro Bowl final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, the Defence Force exploded and, for once, Caledonia AIA could not muster an adequate response as the “Eastern Stallions” ended on the wrong side of a 5-2 score summary.
“We worked hard whole year to get one trophy,” Defence Force coach Ross Russell told Wired868, with a chuckle. “Caledonia had three already.”
The 2011/12 season has been the most successful one in Caledonia’s history. But, as the Morvant/Laventille-based team flew to the Cayman Islands today for Caribbean Football Union (CFU) battle, it is uncertain whether they remembered much beyond Thursday’s mauling.