Former champions Morvant Caledonia United and Police FC, both of the Pro League, have booked their places into the 2017 FA Trophy semi-final round which is tentatively set November 26.
Morvant Caledonia edged Super League side Club Sando Moruga 1-0 courtesy Kareem Joseph’s late converted penalty before Police rallied from a goal down to beat rivals Defence Force 3-1 to complete the first quarter-final double-header at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training field on Tuesday afternoon.
Jemel Sebro fired Defence Force in front seconds into the second half, but a Todd Ryan equaliser from the penalty spot and late goals from Elijah Belgrave and Joshua Leach saw the Lawmen run away comfortable winners.
Morvant Caledonia, a far cry from their 2008, 2011-12 and 2012-13 FA Trophy winning teams, struggled to find rhythm against the second tier Club Sando Moruga. But chances did come with Lester Joseph spilling overbar with the goal at his mercy in the 11th minute and quarter-of-an-hour later Quincy Ballah directed his shot too close to goalkeeper Alexei Julien, who put the attempt behind for a corner.
Julien, a former top-flight goalkeeper with Club Sando’s Pro League outfit, also made a diving save to keep out substitute Rufuson Pierre Louis’ half volley in the second half and moments earlier was lucky to see a Joseph free kick fly inches wide of his far top corner.
Julien, though, was wrong-sided in the 90th minute by Joseph, the last remnant of Morvant Caledonia’s FA Trophy winning teams of the past, who was clinical from the spot to put his side in front 1-0 after CS Moruga substitute defender Kernel Hamilton upended MCU substitute Sedale Mc Lean in the box.
High praise, however, should go Glenroy Samuel’s way after the Trinidad and Tobago and Morvant Caledonia ‘keeper pulled off back-to-back saves in stoppage-time to deny Club Sando Moruga’s Kyle Morgan and Marcus John to preserve his side’s narrow advantage and eventual victory.
The second game, as expected from the oldest surviving rivalry in Trinidad and Tobago Football, did produce higher intensity, but a dog fight between six-time FA Trophy champions, Defence Force, and three-time champions, Police.
Defence Force, undefeated against the Blues in two previous meetings this season with a win and a draw in the Pro League, grabbed the lead on the restart through winger Sebro following a wonderful team move.
But the Army/Coast Guard combination, who will try to successfully defend the First Citizens Cup when they tackle W Connection in the 2017 final of that tournament on November 17, had their lead taken from under them when ten minutes later Ryan (T), fresh from scoring the winner in a 3-2 Pro League victory over San Juan Jabloteh last Sunday, converted from the spot to level the Lawmen 1-1.
Belgrave then put Richard Hood’s side ahead for the first time for a 2-1 lead on 88 minutes after a flurry of chances which saw defender Ryan O’Neil and midfielder Kaashif Thomas -- twice -- miss the target.
Belgrave, who missed a great chance off a low Keion Wilson cross six minutes into the game, made no mistake in finding the back of goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke’s net from close range when the ball, played into the area from a right side Ryan cross, fell to his feet.
And Blues’ substitute Leach, after a couple attempts to control a Belgrave cross into the box, fired past a late Clarke challenge for the 3-1 finish.