The race to become the first team to win the $1 million Digicel Pro League football first prize is likely to be settled during two meetings between leaders Directv W Connection and defending champions Defence Force on May 4 and 6.
Defence Force are now just four points adrift of W Connection (45 points) after edging St Ann’s Rangers 2-1 on Tuesday night at Ato Boldon Stadium (ABS) to pick up a 13th victory in 20 Pro League matches. And the Army will attempt to further cut the lead tomorrow at the ABS, when they play a rescheduled match prior to the 2014 Lucozade Goal Shield final.
Defence Force face slumping Caledonia AIA from 6 p.m. in the opening match, after which Central FC and W Connection will meet in the Lucozade knockout final from eight o’clock.
On Tuesday night, Defence Force were again without prolific striker Devorn Jorsling due to a hamstring injury, but built a two-goal second half lead through Kerry Joseph and Josimar Belgrave, before Rangers captain Kennedy Isle pulled a goal back.
Rangers played conservatively and were rewarded with a goalless first half, before Army midfielder Josimar Belgrave put a header onto the Rangers crossbar early in the second half. The St Ann’s team immediately conceded a corner, from which Joseph scored when he put a diving header past goalkeeper Akel Clarke in the 48th minute.
Belgrave got Defence Force a second goal in the 73rd when he struck his shot onto the roof of the net. Rangers have looked an improved bunch late in the season, and pulled a goal back three minutes later when Isle put in the rebound following a spill by Army custodian Kevin Graham who failed to hold a long-range shot.
Later on, Central FC rallied strongly after conceding an early goal against 10-man Police, who had defender Anton Hutchinson red-carded in the 65th minute. The Lawmen were ahead after just three minutes when Aaron Stewart beat Jan-Michael Williams with a deflected shot from outside the penalty area. However, Central rallied with two goals in either half to win comfortably.
Ataullah Guerra put in a powerful low shot from outside the penalty area to level at 1-1 after earlier having a penalty saved by Police keeper Adrian Foncette.
Willis Plaza got the first of two goals and made it 2-1 on the half hour when he outpaced his marker and shot past Foncette. And he had a simple tap-in for the second in the 50th minute after the Police ‘keeper had saved an earlier shot. Central got a fourth goal deep into injury time when substitute midfielder Darren Mitchell scored following a solo run.
6 p.m. - Defence Force v Caledonia AIA, Ato Boldon Stadium
Lucozade Goal Shield final
8 p.m. - Central FC v W Connection, Ato Boldon Stadium
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE RESULTS:
Defence Force FC 2 (Kerry Joseph 48, Josimar Belgrave 73) St. Ann’s Rangers 1 (Kennedy Isles 76)
Central FC 4 (Ataullah Guerra 26, Willis Plaza 30 & 50, Darren Mitchell 90+) Police FC 1 (Aaron Stewart 3)
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE STANDINGS:
Teams P W D L GF GA GD Pts
W Connection 21 13 6 2 43 15 28 45
Central FC 22 11 8 3 46 21 25 41
Defence Force 20 13 2 5 40 25 15 41
Point Fortin Civic FC 23 12 3 8 35 24 11 39
North East Stars 22 10 6 6 24 17 7 36
Caledonia AIA 21 7 6 8 32 31 1 27
Police FC 23 8 3 12 30 41 -11 27
San Juan Jabloteh 22 3 3 16 22 53 -31 12
St. Ann’s Rangers 22 2 1 19 19 64 -45 7