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Army, Central in finale
Central FC booked its place in the 2018 final of the 2018 First Citizens Cup after a 7-6 penalty win shootout over Police FC, after their semi-final contest ended 1-1 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Friday night.
Marvin Phillip proved one better than his T&T goalkeeping teammate Adrian Foncette when his second save of the shootout to deny Police winger Kareem Perry in sudden death send the Couva Sharks into the final against Defence Force FC which had earlier clobbered Morvant Caledonia United 4-0 in the evening’s double-header programme.
Brent Sam scored twice for three-time (2002, 2009 & 2016) champions Defence Force, separated by the half and goal from team captain Jerwyn Balthazar after Hashim Arcia had first put the Tetron Boys in front against the two-time (2011 & 2012) former champions Morvant Caledonia.
But for Central, the 2013 and 2014 champions, booking a place in Friday’s final required a gritty performance, a handful of yellow cards conceded, a Duane Muckette equaliser, and the heroics of Phillip between the sticks in the deciding penalty shootout.
Police, coached by Richard Hood, had taken the lead through Kareem Freitas after 12 minutes when he put a right side Kareem Perry cross past Phillip, to go level with Defence Force’s Sam on five goals as the tournament leading scorers.
That lead lasted until the 70th minute when Muckette, free in the heart of the Police penalty area, levelled the Stern John-coached Central with a solid finish past Foncette off a hard-worked Anthony Wolfe cross from the left.
Police, however, tossed victory to the wind when substitute Keion Wilson lifted a low Nequan Caruth cross—which had a goal written all over it—over the cross-bar from inside the six-yard area and the goal at his mercy in stoppage time.
After penalties from Todd Ryan, Kurdell Brathwaite, Ryan O’Neil, Kareem Freitas, Dexter Alleyne and Wilson, team-mates Clevon Mc Fee and Kareem Perry were denied by Central’s keeper Phillip.
For the winners, Kerry Baptiste, Wolfe, Keron Cummings, Akim Armstrong, Taryk Sampson, Dwight Pope and Jared London all hit the back of the target for Central, which face an even bigger challenge against Defence Force in the title match.
The Marvin Gordon-coached Defence Force took a 1-0 lead against Morvant Caledonia in the 29th minute through Arcia, who from inside the right of the box, drilled a low shot past goalkeeper Terrence Lewis and into the far bottom corner.
Lewis later acrobatically put behind a strike from Sam who had held off two challenges in the box before letting off the left-footed shot.
But Sam celebrated his first on the night three minutes from the break with a low drive into Lewis’ far bottom corner. The lanky forward completed his double and his team’s 4-0 win from close up in the 83rd minute after Balthazar had turned in a short feed from substitute Kellon Serrette two minutes earlier.
The win means First Citizens Cup final number 10 for the Army/Coast Guard combination.
Friday’s First Citizens Cup 2018
Defence Force FC 4 (Hashim Arcia 29’, Brent Sam 42’, 83’, Jerwyn Balthazar 81’) vs Morvant Caledonia United 0, at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Police FC 1 (Kareem Freitas 12’) vs Central FC 1 (Duane Muckette 70’), at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Central won 7-6 on penalties
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