Veteran midfielder Marvin Oliver was the toast of Central FC after his second-half header earned the Couva-based club a 1-0 win over T&TEC in an all-Digicel T&T Pro League FA Trophy semifinal at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, on Wednesday.
Central FC, featuring new signings Antiguan Peter Byers, Jason Marcano and Weslie John, started the brighter and should have gone ahead after six minutes.
However, Marcano's dangerous free kick to the far post was missed by two of his lunging teammates and five minutes later the nippy attacker sent in another cross which John directed straight at goalkeeper Akini Adams.
T&TEC captain Keeron Benito had his team's first real effort on goal when he tested goalkeeper Marvin Phillip in the 17th minute and soon after at the other end, Adams was forced into more action when he denied a long-distance blast from former Puerto Rico Islanders striker Justin Fojo to keep the score goalless.
And when the Central FC attack did manage to get past Adams, it was denied by the woodwork as was the case in the 22nd minute when Byers passed to Marcano only to see the effort whisk past the T&TEC custodian but canon off the crossbar.
Despite their lack of fortune, Central continued to push for the opener with Oliver hitting overbar in the 35th minute as both teams went into the break still in search of the opener.
Seven minutes after the restart, national under-20 striker and Presentation College of San Fernando striker Shackeil Henry picked out an unmarked T&TEC's Sylvester Teesdale in the Central FC 18-yard box, but he fired straight at Phillip, who tipped over for a corner. However, with the minutes running down, Oliver, a former FA winner with Fenwick at Jabloteh, headed in the decisive item in 76th minute off a well-placed Marcano cross at the far post for Central's winning item.
It was the second win of the season for Central FC over T&TEC, having won their lone Pro League 2-1 with Tyrone Charles and Anthony Wolfe scoring second-half goals to cancel out Benito's first-half strike.
In the final on March 1, Central FC will come up against the winner of Wednesday's other semifinal between 2003 winner and two-time holder and reigning champion Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA.
This, after the depleted Caledonia minus no fewer than nine first team regulars who have all gone on trials either in Europe or USA eked out a 1-0 win over host Stokely Vale of the National Super League at the Plymouth Recreation Ground, Plymouth.
Lanky midfielder Sheldon Holder was the scorer for the Jerry Moe-coached Morvant/Laventille-based "Stallions." The result avenged a 6-5 sudden-death penalty-kicks loss in the round-of-16 of the Toyota Classic last November.
The meeting between Caledonia and Stokely Vale was initially set for the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, a week earlier but was called off due to a no-show of officials.
In last week's quarterfinals, Stars secured a 4-2 penalty-kicks victory over Central Football Association's Cunupia FC following a 1-1 draw; Central FC blanked Secondary Schools Football League's Shiva Boys' Hindu College 2-0 and T&TEC needed kicks from the penalty spot to beat Pt Fortin Civic Centre, winners of SFA treble crown.
Caledonia AIA 1
(Sheldon Holder 55th)
vs Stokely Vale 0
Central FC 1
(Marvin Oliver 76th)
vs T&TEC FC 0
North East Stars vs Caledonia AIA,
Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo,