The champions are gone. There will be no three-peat.
A year after losing the 2012 final, Defence Force turned the tables to knock defending champions Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA out of the First Citizens Cup.
Caledonia won both the 2011 and 2012 editions of the First Citizens Cup, but lost at the 2013 quarter-final stage when going down 1-0 to Defence Force on Monday night, at the Marvin Lee Stadium (MLS) in Macoya, through Marvin Jones’ 54th-minute goal.
In one of this Friday’s semi-finals at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Defence Force will meet a newly-constructed San Juan Jabloteh, 2-1 winners over St Ann’s Rangers in the first MLS quarter-final on Monday, while six-time champions W Connection meet Central FC in the other.
Winning becomes a habit. Perhaps, Caledonia are becoming accustomed to losing, having bagged just a single point in the last seven matches—four played in the Concacaf Champions League, two in the Pro League, and one unsuccessful First Citizens Cup quarter-final.
Defence Force got the one clean finish from Jones, something Caledonia coach Jamaal Shabazz is unable to inspire out of his players at the moment. Caledonia simply cannot score goals right now.
There was enough hard running and signs of desire on the part of Nathan Lewis, the regular left wide-midfielder, who exchanged a few positions on the night. But the closest any of Lewis’ three good scoring chances came to going in was when his low shot across the box scraped the far post in the second half. Mind you, he twice forced good saves from Army keeper Kevin Graham early in the first session.
Other malfunctioning parts of the Caledonia machinery included utility player Keyon Edwards, who lost control of a low pass which he looked certain to sweep home late in the match. Striker Jamaal Gay has also not scored during Cali’s barren run, and usually forward-surging right-back Kareem “Tiny” Joseph has limped off early in a couple recent matches.
Newly-signed Grenadian striker Kithson Bain is not yet settled, and not menacing anyone at the moment. Playmaker Densill Theobald did what he does, and Caledonia are still attempting attractive, flowing football, but with little cutting edge to their play.
At the other end, Defence Force began slowly. The pacey Kevon Carter was benched. Last season’s top-scorer Devorn Jorslyn got his first 20-minute run of the season off the bench since he is completing Army promotion exercises, and striker Richard Roy has not yet made use of the starting role in Jorslyn’s absence.
Still, there was enough forward thrust from the overlapping left-back Aklie Edwards and others to suggest that the Army might score at some point. Jones got the breakthrough early in the second half with a first-time flick on of Edwards’ cross, which looped the ball over Caledonia’s Grenadian keeper Shem Louison.
Earlier, Josimar Belgrave and Roy had back-to-back chances on the half hour, Belgrave misdirecting his attempted header across goal, and Roy having his shot blocked by the keeper’s legs.
The one major concern with Defence Force on the night might be the unattractive blue and white hoops uniforms. Not only are they hard on the eye, but gold numbers on a white surface are almost impossible to pick up.
Earlier, it was business as usual for still unbeaten San Juan Jabloteh, whose two victories this season both came against St Ann’s Rangers. But, Monday’s replay had none of the frenetic scoring of the 6-5 Pro League shootout recently. Despite putting together a squad just three weeks ago, Jabloteh looked improved and deservedly won 2-1.
Shane Hospedales opened the scoring with a low shot from close up in the 43rd minute after Kerry Baptiste re-directed Dilion Kirton’s cross his way. Baptiste then converted a penalty to make it 2-0 in the 70th after Rangers right-back Akim Ash handled in the penalty area. Jabloteh defender Jamal Spencer headed a free-kick over keeper Keston Malchan for an own goal a minute into added-on time. But, that goal came too late to keep Rangers in the contest.
MONDAY’S QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Shane Hospedales 43rd, Kerry Baptiste 70th-penalty), St Ann’s Rangers 1 (Jamal Spencer 91st-own goal)
Defence Force 1 (Marvin Jones 54th), Caledonia AIA 0