Former USA-based striker Lemuel Lyons scored a controversial equaliser for North East Stars, as defending champions Defence Force were held 1-1 at Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. The Army lost further ground in the defence of their Pro League title and are still only seventh in the Pro League on 17 points, but have five outstanding games in hand. North East Stars are fourth.
Having lost central defender Curtis Gonzales sent off by referee Neal Brizan in Friday’s 3-1 defeat of San Juan Jabloteh, Defence Force had a defender sent off for a second consecutive match.
On Tuesday, referee Marvin Pierre ejected Army veteran right defender Corey Rivers mere seconds before the first half ended. Rivers fouls opponents as frequently as he defends these days, and picked up a second yellow card after heavily taking down shifty Stars left-midfielder Kennedy Hinkson, the same player he had in almost a choke hold earlier.
The Army took a 32nd minute lead from a superb finish by playmaker Jerwyn Baltazar, who swept the ball first-time to the far post after running onto an earlier Devorn Jorsling free-kick.
However, the match was not without its controversy, given the goal disputed by the Defence Force when Lyons equalised 10 minutes later. Lyon seem to be quite offside, and behind the last Army defender when a forward pass by a Stars teammate inadvertently came off Army defender Devin Jordan. Lyons picked up the ball, raced unchallenged to goal and put a low shot by Defence Force goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke. Whether Lyons got an advantage from being offside when the ball came off the defender was disputed by the opposition.
Typical of Angus Eve’s team, Stars conceded territorial advantage to Defence Force and were pinned back for much of the first half, but still managed a couple of good chances themselves on the counter-attack. Lyons might have opened the scoring in the 20th minute, but had a low shot saved by Clarke from the centre of the penalty area, following good work by Hinkson. Baltazar scored to give Army a 1-0 lead, and Lyons had a low shot turned around for a corner, after Hinkson again set him up. A minute later, came Stars’ controversial equaliser.
Even with a man short, Defence Force came closest to winning all three points when left-footed striker Jorsling put a free-kick off the far upright in the 73rd minute, with Stars keeper Cleon John well beaten and planted to the spot.
Right midfielder Jemel Sebro also found the side-netting for the Defence Force, but should have scored instead while at the other end, Clarke barely put over a free-kick played into the Defence Force penalty area.