On target for caledonia:
Rangers out of the blocks
...beat champions Defence Force for first points
Ian Prescott email@example.com
There is talk of days gone by when footballers of the Defence Force would have been punished had they suffered as humiliating a defeat as when the defending champions were beaten 3-2 by the bottom club, St Ann’s Rangers in the Digicel Pro League, on Saturday night.
But in the face of indifferent early season form and three early defeats in the 2013-2014 season, Army head coach Ross Russell swears that Defence Force will win the Pro League and pick up the million dollar Digicel Pro League champions’ prize. Following a similarly disappointing 2-1 loss to Central FC in the First Citizens Cup final recently, Russell remained defiant when declaring that the Army will be champions at season’s end.
“No doubt about it. We are going to win the million,” Russell said “We have a team that needs to be refreshed by the injection of some new blood. But we have young players coming through. They are not ready yet, but it is a long season and by the end, we will be there.”
But one senses that the run which Russell forecasts is not even close to its starting point.
Yet again, the champions faltered when losing an early second half lead and going down by one goal to Rangers, who won through two well-executed Kerron Cummings’ free-kicks.
Rangers are still bottom despite picking up their first points this season, but are now only goal-difference away from the champions and two points shy of Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA.
Last season’s runners-up, Caledonia AIA are also struggling, but picked up a first win of the season, 4-1 over San Juan Jabloteh in the second match of the Marvin Lee Stadium (MLS) double-header on Saturday night.
Noel Williams put Cali ahead with an awkward volley to the far post in the 10th minute, and the Morvant-Laventille bunch were comfortable at 3-0 early in the second half through further goals from Densill Theobald (42nd) and Keyon Edwards (49th).
By the time a hurried clearance bounced in off Jabloteh defender Keino Goodridge (own-goal) in the 61st, Caledonia were in charge, despite otherwise solid play from Jabloteh. Finally, the young San Juan team pulled a goal back in the 76th from a solo run by recent substitute Shaquille Bertrand, who cut across the penalty area and hit a low shot past goalie Glenroy Samuel.
Like Bertrand, Rangers had ambitious ideas in the face of what looked an imposing task, even against the “flat” champions Defence Force.
The modest St Ann’s team shocked the Army by taking a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute when captain Clevon McPhee cut in from the left and slapped past Army keeper Sheldon Clarke.
Rangers got good work out of their keeper, Terrence Lewis, who kept them in the match with several good saves. However, the Army were level at 1-1 in the 32nd through wide left Kerry Joseph, who held off two challenges and shot past the goalie. Later, Joseph’s pass inside the box created a chance for striker Devorn Jorslyn before the half ended, but the lethargic marksman hesitated long enough to be foiled by another Lewis save.
Russell probably wasn’t happy with a 1-1 half-time tie against the cellar team, and Defence