San Juan Jabloteh winger Kadeem Hutchinson last night scored what could arguably stand the most spectacular double in the history of the First Citizens Cup but finished on the losing end after an electrifying quarter-final clash against a 10-man Defence Force team.
Club Sando had earlier dispatched Morvant Caledonia United with a 3-1 come-from-behind win in the first game of the quarter-final double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva to advance to next Friday’s 2017 semi-final round where the Oranges will meet the winners of today’s quarter-final clash between record seven-time winners W Connection and two-time former champions Central FC.
In the second game of the night, Devorn Jorsling, the veteran Defence Force talisman and last season’s First Citizens Cup MVP, delivered at the death to level the game at 3-3 before leading the defending champions into the semi-finals with a 4-2 win on penalty kicks over Jabloteh.
Defence Force will meet the winner of yesterday’s clash between North East Stars and Point Fortin Civic in the semis.
“We continued to believe and I thought the guys were brilliant tonight,” said Defence Force head coach Marvin Gordon after the final whistle.
“I also want to commend Jabloteh because I thought both teams gave supporters a great game tonight.”
The Army/Coast Guard combination had taken a 1-0 lead on 26 minutes when winger Reon Moore completed a wonderful team move with a low drive past Jabloteh number one, Javon Sample.
But Defence Force were reduced to 10 men on the stroke of the half when centre-back Jamali Garcia received his second yellow of the game for upending Keithy Simpson on the edge of the penalty arc.
“I think we started stronger than (Jabloteh),” added Gordon, who described the contest “a classic game.”
“I think calls were going one way—against us. We got some early cards [and] ended up with a red card.
“Jabloteh lifted the tempo a bit (in the second half) and we were down a (player). They gained momentum and scored two great goals. But we continued to believe and dig deep as defending champions.”
Hutchinson lifted Jabloteh in front in the second half with a top-drawer brace – both spectacular volleys in a space of three minutes – after dragging an effort miserably wide from eight yards out, two minutes after replacing Panama midfielder Jairo Lombardo on the hour mark.
Hutchinson, arriving at the back post, thumped a left side Kennedy Hinkson cross past Defence Force goalie Andre Marchan to level the scores at 1-1 in the 69th minute.
Then in the 72th minute the winger put to shade his earlier strike with an acrobatic scissors-kick to send a right side Jevon Morris cross past Marchan and Jabloteh were in front 2-1.
That lead, however, lasted until the 80th minute when Hashim Arcia, with a composed finish, found the bottom corner to Sample’s left to make it 2-2 after being picked out by Jorsling inside the area.
Defence Force then faced the exit when Jabloteh’s Jamaican midfielder Keithy Simpson coolly rolled the ball into the soldiers’ net following a spill by ‘keeper Marchan with four minutes left.
But in the second of four minutes stoppage-time, Jorsling controlled an Arcia pass inside the box and fired past the legs of Sample to level it 3-3 to send the game into a shootout.
Defence Force were the better side on the shootout with Jorsling, Arcia, Curtis Gonzales and late forward substitute Dylon King clinical from the spot.
Elijah Manners and Kennedy Hinkson had kept Jabloteh level until misses by Akeem Benjamin and Nkosi David on the third and fourth kicks respectively, saw the San Juan side, like their neighbours Morvant Caledonia, bow out the 2017 First Citizens Cup.