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Photo: Defence Force FC forward Brent Sam attempts to drive past Morvant Caledonia United’s Travell Edwards during their First Citizens Cup 2018 semi-final clash at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Jul. 13, 2018. (Courtesy First Citizens/CAI/Allan V. Crane)
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Defence Force FC begun the new 2018 Pro League championship campaign with a victory on opening night, Friday, but had their work cut out against an improved Morvant Caledonia United outfit which they managed to overcome 4-3 in the second game of a Super Friday double-header at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Substitute Hashim Arcia scored the winner for coach Marvin Gordon’s side, after the Tetron Boys twice needed to come from behind with Devorn Jorsling (38) and an own goal credited to Morvant Caledonia’s Jomokie Cassimy (58) cancelling out strikes by Morvant Caledonia’s Quincy Ballah (31) and R3naldo Francois (40).

Brent Sam (66) gave Defence Force the lead for the first time before Sheldon Holder (70) levelled the Eastern Stallions. But Arcia (73) had the last say, grabbing the winner in an enthralling affair after San Juan Jabloteh and Point Fortin Civic played to a dreadful goalless stalemate in the opening game.

Morvant Caledonia started brightly, but saw Kerry Daniel, Kareem Joseph and Holder all denied by Defence Force goalkeeper Andre Marchan in the first six minutes.

Marchan, however, was hung out to dry by his defence on the half hour mark and Ballah put the Jerry Moe-coached Morvant Caledonia 1-0 ahead with a cool finish after Francois, picked out by Holder in the box, rolled a feed across the area.

Jorsling levelled Defence Force 1-1 with a simple tap in on Terrence Lewis’s goal on 38 minutes when Thurlani George headed a Sam cross back into the six yard area.

But Morvant Caledonia were back in front two minutes later, for a 2-1 lead which they took in at the break, thanks to a finish from Francois who had earlier unleashed a stinger which troubled Marchan.

Morvant Caledonia looked on their way to exacting revenge over the side that thumped them 4-0 in the semi-finals of the First Citizens Cup a month ago, but for a second time allowed the narrow lead to slip – this time by their own doing.

Referee Kwinsi Williams credited the goal to Cassimy, the defender he said inadvertently headed into his own net two minutes from the hour mark on a corner swung in by Dylon King who was denied by ‘keeper Lewis.

Sam then handed Defence Force the lead for the first time on 66 minutes with his sixth goal in all competitions this season when he beat Lewis in mid-air to win an Aklie Edwards cross before nodding a header into the net for a 3-2 lead.

That too, was however short-lived when only seconds onto the pitch Morvant Caledonia debutant Shem Clauzel was influential in setting up Holder to find the back of the soldiers’ net to put the scores at 3-3 in the 70th minute.

But a double-substitution made by Gordon early in the second half would pay huge dividends – full three points to be exact – after Arcia, picked out by a squared pass from Jameel Cooper from the left, thundered a strike through the legs of Lewis from 20 yards out in the 73rd minute for the eventual 4-3 winner.

Morvant Caledonia must next travel to Civic from 7pm at the Mahaica Oval on Tuesday in Match Day Two in search of their first point/s, while Defence Force will host St. Ann’s Rangers from 7pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Wednesday.

Today (Saturday) Match Day One continues with defending champions North East Stars hosting recently crowned First Citizens Cup champions Central FC from 4pm at Larry Gomes Stadium.

The action returns to Ato Boldon Stadium on Sunday with W Connection against St. Ann’s Rangers from 4pm followed by Club Sando taking on Police FC from 6pm.

Results - Round 1 Match Day 1

San Juan Jabloteh 0 vs Point Fortin Civic 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium;

Defence Force FC 4 (Devorn Jorsling 38’, Jomokie Cassimy Own Goal 58’, Brent Sam 66’, Hashim Arcia 73’) vs Morvant Caledonia United 3 (Quincy Ballah 31’, Renaldo Francois 40’, Sheldon Holder 70’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Teams

Game 1

San Juan Jabloteh: 30.Shemel Louison (GK); 3.Travis Joseph, 10.Jomoul Francois, 13.Kristoff John, 15.Dellon Jagessar, 16.Jamal Spencer, 17.Sean Bonval (9.Jaydon Prowell 70th minute), 18.Jevon Morris, 20.Elton John (Capt.) (4.Nical Stephens 63rd minute), 24.Kareem Eastman, 25.Nickell Orr (19.Joel Lewis 54th minute).

Unused substitutes: 1.Christopher Biggette (GK); 2.Nicholai Orr, 7.Elijah Manners, 12.Keron Bethelmy.

Coach: Keith Jeffrey

Point Fortin Civic: 22.Miles Goodman (GK); 7.Hughtun Hector (Capt.), 8.Jamal John, 10.Jabari Mitchell (12.Rondel Phillip 81st minute), 11.Akeem Redhead, 19.Nathaniel Garcia (24.Akinola Gregory 83rd minute), 20.Bevon Bass, 21.Ronell Paul, 27.Darnell Hospedales, 30.Nion Lammy (6.Judah Garcia 65th minute), 33.Justin Sadoo.

Unused substitutes: 1.Jasse Aguillerra (GK); 14.Shaquille John, 15.Nideon Noel, 25.Shaquille Dublin.

Coach: Reynold Carrington

Referee: Marlon Peruse

Game 2

Defence Force FC: 1.Andre Marchan (GK); 4.Dave Long (32.Jameel Cooper 52nd minute), 6.Rodell Elcock, 8.Brent Sam (23.Kerry Joseph 77th minute), 9.Devorn Jorsling, 13.Marvin Jones, 17.Curtis Gonzales, 19.Thurlani George (10.Hashim Arcia 52nd minute), 21.Aklie Edwards, 45.Dylon King, 99.Jerwyn Balthazar (Capt.).

Unused substitutes: 25.Sheldon Clarke (GK); 5.Jerome Mc Intyre, 16.Kellon Serrette, 20.Levi Serries.

Coach: Marvin Gordon.

Morvant Caledonia United: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK); 3.Richard Williams, 4.Maurice Ford, 5.Joshua Sylvester, 10.Sheldon Holder (9.Sedale Mc Lean 82nd minute), 11.Quincy Ballah, 12.Kareem Joseph (Capt.) (8.Andrew Murray 74th minute), 17.Kerry Daniel, 19.Renaldo Francois (21.Shem Clauzel 69th minute), 22.Joshua Alexander, 28.Jomokie Cassimy.

Unused substitutes: 30.Dejourn Charles (GK); 15.Malik Mieres, 16.Travell Edwards, 26.Jair Edwards.

Coach: Jerry Moe

Referee: Kwinsi Williams