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North East Stars and two-time winners DIRECTV W Connection both advanced out of the semifinal round of the Digicel Pro Bowl on Friday night, but needed kicks from the penalty spot to oust Central FC 5-3, and defending champions Defence Force 4-3 respectively at the Marvin Lee Stadium following 1-1 scores.

Stars, this season’s Toyota Classic winners and defeated finalists against Connection in the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield last month, will meet the ‘Savonnetta Boys’ Wednesday 29 May at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 8pm in the Pro Bowl Final—the Sangre Grande club’s third Cup Final this season and second against Connection.

Following an uneventful first half, in semifinal one, Stars’ full back Kennedy Hinkson broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when he was set free behind the defense with a neat pass through the legs of Central defender Dario Holmes by Cornell Glen.

Hinkson angled himself early before whipping in a strike to beat Central, and Trinidad and Tobago international goalkeeper Marvin Phillip at first post for a 1-0 North East advantage.

But Central responded by the next minute to level the scores 1-1 when Tobagonian striker Rundell Winchester brilliantly controlled a Jason Marcano pass inside and confident placed the ball to the left of goalkeeper Cleon John and into the net.

North East Stars had an opening in the 69th minute to restore the advantage but attacker Elijah Manners flopped in front of goal when he directed his effort at goalkeeper Phillip—the goalie’s chest feeling the pain temporarily, but not in vain, as it kept out the strike.

Central came close in the 72nd minute when a crack at goal from above the area by Anthony Wolfe took a slight deflection and swooshed overbar. And from the resulting corner, goalscorer Winchester headed wide of the far post.

Intensity flared and five minutes from time Stars’ substitute Marcus Gomez, only twenty-one minutes on the pitch, was shown a direct red card by referee Rodphin Harris for dissent. The furious teenaged Gomez believed he had won his side a penalty after going down in the area, but instead landed himself a spectators’ view for the Final next Wednesday.

And in the 89th minute Stars’ defender Kareem Moses was lucky to only receive a yellow card after pulling Central’s Antiguan forward Peter Byers back after he was released free towards the area by an intelligent Winchester pass.

It was kicks from the penalty mark following Rodphin’s final whistle and the Stars completed their five kicks—Elijah Manners, Elton John, Kareem Moses, Kaashif Thomas and Kennedy Hinkson—never allowing Central a comeback after Darren Mitchell’s miss on the second kick. (See full kicks from the penalty spot listing below)

And following regulation time of the second semifinal, match referee Gordon Maloney had to also oversee kicks from the penalty spot between Defence Force and Connection.

A bit of controversy though on the part of the officials.

Connection goalie Alejandro Figueroa had a good start with a shutout against Defence Force forward Devorn Jorsling, who scored the equalizer from a superb free-kick in the 74th minute to level the regulation time score 1-1, but Maloney ordered a retake—with encroachment the only probable cause.

Jorsling made no mistake at the second chance to put the soldiers 1-0 from the kicks.

Connection midfielder Andrei Pacheco, scorer of his team’s regulation time item in the 8th minute when he guided in a low cross by Kurt Frederick, was next, but disappointingly blasted his effort wide.

However Figueroa was excellent pulling off a save against Richard Roy and Kevon Carter struck the upright for Defence Force’s second and fifth kicks respectively.

While his Connection teammates Silvio Spann, brothers Joevin and Alvin Jones, and Hashim Arcia were on target.

But both sides had their chances in open play to avoid taking the match into penalties.

After putting his side in front, Pacheco later clipped an effort over bar in the 35th minute when Arcia unselfishly fed a pass. And five minutes from the break he tried his special left boot from a free-kick, but drove that effort a few feet wide.

Defence Force then had their best opening of the half in the 44th minute when Kevon Carter raced down the left and pulled back a low cross into the area for an onrushing Jorsling who failed to do well with the opportunity.

Jorsling later redeemed himself with the curling free-kick 74th minute, and in the 82nd minute substitute struck wide.

And the soldiers had an excellent opening in the 85th minute, but an excellent lunging tackle by Alvin Jones, kept out a Jemel Sebro effort.

Kicks from the penalty spot

North East Stars (5)            (3) Central FC
Elijah Manners (scored)            Jason Marcano (scored)
Elton John (scored)                    Darren Mitchell (missed)
Kareem Moses (scored)              Marvin Oliver (scored)
Kaashif Thomas (scored)           Rundell Winchester (scored)
Kennedy Hinkson (scored)

North East Stars 1—1 Central FC
Kennedy Hinkson 57’  ;  Rundell Winchester 58’

Teams

North East Stars—Cleon John (capt.), Kareem Moses, Kerry Baptiste (Micah Lewis 64th), Kevon Villaroel (Kaashif Thomas 77th), Jeromie Williams, Elijah Manners, Elton John, Cornell Glen (Marcus Gomez 64th) (Red Card), Glenton Wolfe, Kennedy Hinkson, Keryn Navarro.

Unused substitutes—Adrian Foncette, Gary Glasgow, Jayson Joseph, Keithy Simpson.

Coach—Angus Eve

Central FC—Marvin Phillip (capt.), Sean Thomas, Anthony Wolfe (Johan Peltier 76th), Marvin Oliver, Peter Byers, Carey Harris, Adrian Noel, Rundell Winchester, Jason Marcano, Dario Holmes, Darren Mitchell

Unused substitutes—Shane Mattis, Marc Leslie, Hayden Tinto, Sayid Freitas, Cyrano Glen, Darryl Trim.

Coach—Terry Fenwick

Kicks from the penalty spot

Defence Force (3)            (4) W Connection
Devorn Jorsling (scored)     Andrei Pacheco (missed)
Richard Roy (saved)           Silvio Spann (scored)
Rodell Elcock (scored)         Joevin Jones (scored)
Curtis Gonzales (scored)     Alvin Jones (scored)
Kevon Carter (saved)         Hashim Arcia (scored)

Defence Force 1—1 W Connection
Devorn Jorsling  74’  ;  Andrei Pacheco 8’

Teams

Defence Force—Kevin Graham, Kevon Carter (capt.), Glynn Franklyn, Curtis Gonzales, Devorn Jorsling, Jerwyn Balthazar (Yellow Card), Ross Russell Jr. (Jemel Sebro 52nd), Sean Narcis (Adrian Welch 88th), Rodell Elcock, Aklie Edwards, Dave Long (Richard Roy 52nd).

Unused substitutes—Sheldon Clarke, Balondemu Julius, Dexter Pacheco, Dwight Scott.

Coach—Ross Russell

W Connection—Alejandro Figueroa, Clyde Leon (capt.) (Yellow Card) (Silvio Spann 60th), Daneil Cyrus, Eligah Joseph, Gerrard Williams, Hashim Arcia, Andrei Pacheco, Stefano Rijssel (Jerrel Britto 75th), Kurt Frederick, Alvin Jones, Neil Benjamin (Joevin Jones 52nd).

Unused substitutes—Aquelius Sylvester, Jelani Grosvenor, Jomal Williams, Tremain Shayn Paul.

Coach—Stuart Charles Fevrier.