Thursday, February 22, 2018

High point

...two Adams saves put Civic in Lucozade semis


FLASHBACK: Defence Force forward Devorn Jorsling winds up to shoot at goal in this file photo. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

Mark Fraser

It took a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory for Point Fortin Civic to halt a three-match losing run against Defence Force this season, while Central FC shut out an uninterested Caledonia AIA, all from Friday’s 2014 Lucozade Goal Shield quarter-finals matches played at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. 

Central FC scored a solid 4-0 victory over a Caledonia AIA bunch, which looked more eager to end their worst season in five years, than reach the semi-final. Striker Willis Plaza scored a first half double, including the first of two penalties awarded by Tobago referee Marville Wallace on the night. The “Sharks” captain Ataullah Guerra scored the third goal, while Marvin Oliver also converted a late 90-minute penalty. 

Plaza converted his own penalty for a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute, after a clumsy tackle by lanky Antiguan central defender Akeem Thomas, and also put a hard, low finish onto Samuel Delice’s pass into the box in the 43rd, for a 2-0 Central lead the break. Guerra had a clear run at the “Cali” goal before putting a low past Shemel Louison for the third goal in the 81st minute. 

And with Plaza substituted and unable to complete his hat-trick, Marvin Oliver took responsibility of converting the second penalty near the end. Darren Mitchell was running onto a superb flick from Sean De Silva when he was taken down approaching the six-yard box and awarded the penalty.

Meanwhile, it took several notable moments before Civic were able to celebrate a first win over Pro League champions Defence Force this season. The Army won three League meeting 1-0, 3-1 and 3-2 just three days prior, when coming back from two goals down.

Defence Force should have won again, when capable utility Curtis Gonzales bore down on the back post in added-on time, with the teams even on 1-1 and Point keeper Akini Adams desperately trying to get across the goal. 

Maybe Gonzales saw glory. And he blazed a powerful shot wide of the near post, when a placed shot would have won Army the match. On bent knees, Gonzales held his head in disbelief after. Army head-coach Ross Russell looked gutted, but consoled his player.

The match instead went to a penalty shoot-out, where Civic keeper Adams emerged a hero with two saves, to give Civic a 4-3 win via shots from the penalty spot. Adams stopped a weak shot from Gonzales, and sparked a wave of celebration among Point fans by also stopping the final kick from Army captain Cory Rivers. 

Early on, Civic seemed to have done enough to win outright. They struck the woodwork three times in the first half, before Akeem Redhead put away a powerful, low shot inside a crowded penalty area for a 1-0 lead in the 41st minute. Before then, the season’s impressive top-scorer Marcus Joseph, drew a roar of applause with an explosive 30-metre shot which sent the ball flying past Army keeper Kevin Graham, before crashed off the crossbar. 

Later, Wesley John also headed Joseph’s corner-kick off the crossbar, but during another attack, Redhead                                 finally benefited by scoring the rebound after a third Civic shot hit an upright.

Army came closest in the first quarter hour, when striker Devorn Jorsling slid in, and marginally missed connecting with Jemel Sebro’s pass across the box. Later, a wicked Jorsling free-kick was just kept out of the far corner by a back-peddling goalie Adams.

Point began seeing a semi-final spot a full quarter-hour before the regulation period ended, and became ultra defensive. That allowed Defence Force back into the match, and an 80th minute header from substitute Army defender Glynn Franklin pulled the team level at 1-1. 

Gonzales really should have won Defence Force the match in extra time, but once he failed to do so, Civic fans were giving the chance to celebrate on the long drive back to Point Fortin.