Jamaica Observer / Harbour View FC, Waterhouse FC and Cavalier SC secured the final three berths in the six-team play-off round of the Red Stripe Premier League as the preliminary phase came to a close yesterday. The ‘Stars of the East’, who entered yesterday’s contest on 46 points and in sixth position, moved up one place on 49 points after clipping runaway leaders Portmore United (66 points) 1-0 at the Spanish Town Prison Oval with a 55th-minute strike from Dushane Beckford.
For the late rallying Waterhouse, they secured fourth spot, moving up from fifth to 50 points after blanking demoted Boys’ Town 3-0 at Barbican field. Tremaine Stewart (57th minute), Cardell Benbow (60th) and Carlos Barrett (90th) were on target for the Donovan Duckie-guided outfit.
Cavalier, who snatched the sixth and the final play-off spot after playing to a 0-0 tie with second-placed and defending champions Arnett Gardens (51 points) at the Anthony Spaulding Complex, ended with 48 points.
Also finishing on 48 points are UWI FC, who edged third-placed Tivoli Gardens (50) 1-0 at the Mona Bowl, but a better goal difference carried Cavalier forward ahead of them.
Playing with 10 men for 66 minutes after former Tivoli man Kemar Flemmings picked up a second yellow card, UWI made an auspicious start to the contest by blazing into a sixth-minute lead through Dwayne Smith, but the university men knew from the start that their fate hung precipitously on other results.
So said, so done.
“We made a gallant effort as we fought to the finish and I would like to commend my team… we have a fantastic bunch of players who performed throughout the season… we now have to go back to the drawing board to see where we went wrong and try to fix it next year.
“I believe our inconsistency hurt us and our depth was not as good as previous years, but in the end when it mattered most we could not go over that hurdle,” lamented UWI coach Marcel Gayle.
Having already pinned down their spot in the defining play-off stage, Tivoli were clearly in holiday mode in yesterday’s game, and even with a one-man advantage, they appeared to lack desire and the required killer instinct to end the three-round preliminary stage with a flourish.
“I believe that on occasions we got carried away, especially on the flanks where we should have had some more crosses in the box… but we have qualified coming here and I believe we took our foot off the pedal which resulted in us conceding a goal early.
“We now have to get re-organised and get ready for the top six… the emphasis will be on team work and organisation, because in order for us to win the Premier League, we have to play as a team and not as individuals, and I believe that we displayed some individual things today (yesterday),” said Tivoli coach Omar Edwards at game’s end.
At the Mona Bowl yesterday, national goalkeeper Amal Knight was in spectacular form to deny the Tivoli attackers when they ventured out on the hunt.
On one of those occasions in the 28th minute, he was majestic in pulling off a brilliant one-handed save to deny Andre Moulton, who had created room on top of the area, then unleashing ferociously with the left boot.
Knight was again on top of his game in 36th minute parrying a cheeky 20-yard free-kick from specialist Junior McGregor, who was clearly having an off day in dead ball situations.
At the other end, UWI got a glorious opportunity to add another in minute 74, but with only goalkeeper Davin Watkins to outsmart, Ramoun Reid’s final effort lacked polish and conviction.
In other matches, relegated Sandals South Coast bid farewell in style whipping Reno FC 4-1 in the Westmoreland derby, while Humble Lion blew away Montego Bay United 4-0 at Effortville.
Teams: UWI FC – Amal Knight, Taniel McKenzie, Deno Schaffe, Fabion McCarthy, Akeem Thenstead, Andrae Bernal, Ryan Miller, Kemar Flemmings, Zhelano Barnes (Roshane Smith 56th), Kemoy Atkinson, Dwayne Smith (Ramoun Reid 56th).
Subs not used: Nickolas King, Stephen Barnett, Davion Garrison, Abayomi D’Aguillar, Jamie Robinson.
Booked: Flemming (22nd, 24th – ejected), McKenzie (48th), Thenstead (70th)
Tivoli Gardens – Davin Watkins, Junior McGregor, Kenroy Lumthen (Trayvone Reid 66th), Romaine Brakenridge, Rushane Facey, Shavar Campbell (Nicholas Smith 41st), Marvin Stewart, Sean Coleman (Elton Thomas 39th), Howard Morris, Andre Moulton, Jermaine Johnson.
Subs not used: Nicholas Clarke, Tykvin Garnett, Authur Walters, Lamar Thompson.
Booked: Morris (86th)
Referee: Kevin Morrison
Assistant Referees: Jermaine Yee-Sing, Kemar Bailey
Fourth Official: Odette Hamilton
Match Commissary: Raymond Anderson
— Sean Williams