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Central, Pt Fortin reach Shield semis
Central FC and Pt Fortin Civic booked the first two semifinal places in this year’s fifth edition of the T&T Pro League Lucozade Sports Goal Shield with contrasting wins in their quarterfinal encounters at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Friday night. In the opener, Willis Plaza scored a first-half double as Central FC stretched its unbeaten run in all competitions to 14 matches with a 4-0 thrashing of 2012 winners and last year’s semifinalist Caledonia while two hours later, Pt Fortin Civic got its first win of the season over two-time beaten finalists Defence Force, 4-3 from the penalty-spot after a 1-1 draw. On Wednesday at the launch of the competition, Caledonia coach Jamaal Shabazz had sounded out a warning to the Terry Fenwick-coached Central “Sharks”.
However, by the end of their quarterfinal contest, Fenwick was the one with a smile on his face as Shabazz and his lacklustre Caledonia squad which was made to eat humble pie. The former Vietnam-based Plaza opened the scoring from as early as the 14th minute from the penalty-spot and two minutes before the half-time whistle, he added another for his team to hold a comfortable 2-0 cushion at the half. Caledonia managed to hold the confident Central FC at bay for most of the second-half before its former midfield duo of Ataullah Guerra and Marvin Oliver (penalty) added their names to the scoresheet in the 81st and 90th minute respectively, to complete the drubbing for its first win of the season over against the Morvant/Laventille-based club after 0-0 and 1-1 draws in two league meetings and set up a semifinal meeting with the winner of last night’s quarterfinal between 2010 winners North East Stars and Police.
Like Central FC, Defence Force also entered its match against Pt Fortin Civic full of confidence having beaten the same opponents three days earlier at the same venue in a rescheduled league match, 3-2 after trailing 0-2 at the half. But on this occasion, the Reynold Carrington-coached Civic seemed intend on not allowing the same outcome against the Army/Coast-Guard who also won their two other league encounters, 3-1 and 1-0 and at the half led 1-0 via a 41st minute Akeem Benjamin item. However, in a match of few chances, defender Glen Benjamin drew Defence Force level with 10 minutes left on the clock to send the match to penalty-kicks, where his team fell 3-4. Pt Fortin Civic now awaits it semifinal opponent, after defending Goal Shield champion and two-time winner W Connection faced San Juan Jabloteh in last night’s other quarterfinal.
The semifinals will take place at the same venue on April 11 while the final is carded for two weeks later, also at Couva. This season's edition, the unique tournament, based on its cash for goals incentive, will see the winners take away an increased base prize, from $20,000 to $30,000 and $3,000 for every goal scored in the Final, $2,000 for every goal scored in the semi-final, and $1,000 for every goal scored in the quarter-final round. The runners-up prize structure pays out a $10,000 base amount and $1,500 for every goal scored in the final, $1,000 for every goal scored in the semi-final, and $500 for every goal scored in the quarter-final round. There are also cash incentives for the leading goal-scorer, most outstanding player, most outstanding coach, and the “Lucozade Sport Goal Pot” for spectators from the semi-final round.