Tough Reno test for struggling Tivoli Gardens
Nodley Wright, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The mental strength of the Tivoli Gardens unit will be tested this afternoon when they host former champions Reno Football Club at the Edward Seaga Stadium in one of five games on in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL).
Most people will be excited by the National Stadium doubleheader, a new feature, with Rivoli United going up against Barbican in the 4 p.m. opener and Harbour View tackling Boys' Town in in the 6 p.m. feature. But the Tivoli Gardens-Reno game could answer a lot of questions.
Tivoli Gardens have not looked like true contenders for the title in the past two seasons, and on the eve of this season's competition, it appeared as if they would fold.
With four sets of matches played, the west Kingston-based team are sitting just a place and a point above the bottom of the table on two points from two draws and two losses. Despite that situation, coach Alvin Shaw is confident that things will get better.
"We are facing a lot of issues, and it will take a little time to get everything sorted out. We will not wash our laundry in public," Shaw said.
The task facing his team is made tougher by the fact that at least eight of their senior players have been hit by the chikungunya virus, but not fielding a team is not an option, according to Shaw.
"Most of our senior players like Edsel Scott, André McFarlane, Navion Boyd and Barrington are affected and will not be available. Damion Gordon is out for the season also, but we are going to take the field. We will not use it as an excuse. They, our mostly young players, will give a good account of themselves," a confident Shaw said of his players who did not have the benefit of pre-season training and only have limited training now due to the absence of lights at the stadium.
The players, he said, are fighting hard to find a rhythm, and Thursday's victory over St George's Sports Club in the Flow Knock Out was a positive sign for the group, according to Shaw.
Like Tivoli Gardens, Reno also won midweek, but their victory was a laboured 1-0 win over Lewisville. The manner of the victory was not a worry to coach Patrick Graham, as he indicated the match was used to look at other players within the squad.
"The Lewisville game is not a measure of where we are right now. We have to look at players within the group, and that is what we did. We will be ready for Tivoli Gardens, which is normally a competitive game," Graham expressed.
The fact that Tivoli Gardens have struggled so far this season will have no impact on the approach his team will take to the game, Graham added.
"The game of football is unpredictable. You could be on your best form and end up losing the game. There is nothing to say that the team at the bottom cannot beat the top team; it is just a part of the game," said Graham.
Craig Foster, the league's leading goal scorer, has been the main man for Reno so far this season, but Graham said there is more to his team.
"Foster is scoring goals from up front, but we are getting goals from midfield, too, which is great for us. There is a concern, though, in that we are giving up some goals, so we have to improve in that area," he pointed out.
At Effortville Community Centre, bottom-of-the-table Humble Lion will entertain top-of-the-table Cavalier at 6:30 p.m., while defending champions Montego Bay United will aim to rebound from last week's loss to Cavalier when Sporting Central, who were idle last week, visit the Wespow Park.
- 6:30 p.m: Humble Lion vs Cavalier - Effortville Community Centre
- 3:30 p.m: Montego Bay United vs Sporting Central - Wespow Park
- 3:30 p.m: Tivoli Gardens vs Reno - Edward Sega Complex
NATIONAL STADIUM DOUBLE-HEADER
- 4 p.m: Rivoli United vs Barbican - National Stadium
- 6 p.m: Harbour View vs Boys' Town - National Stadium
- 9 p.m: Arnett Gardens vs Waterhouse - Anthony Spaulding Complex
P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Cavalier 4 2 2 0 3 1 2 8
Arnett 3 2 1 0 5 2 3 7
W'house 2 2 0 0 4 0 4 6
Reno 3 1 2 0 7 6 1 5
Rivoli 3 1 2 0 6 5 0 5
MoBay Utd 4 1 1 2 5 5 0 4
Boys' Town 4 1 1 2 3 8 -5 4
Sporting 2 1 0 1 3 1 2 3
Barbican 2 0 2 0 1 1 0 2
H View 3 0 2 1 3 4 -1 2
Tivoli 4 0 2 2 3 6 -3 2
Humble 4 0 1 3 3 7 -4 1