Sat | Apr 29, 2017

Hunt begins for Premier League spots

Published:Wednesday | May 27, 2015 | 5:00 AMMarc Stamp

The battle for two available spots in the 2015-16 Red Stripe Premier League begins today, with two games in the Jamaica Football Federation Confederation play-off.

Former Premier League cham-pions Portmore United tackle Savannah Sports Club at Spanish Town Prison Oval and York United will go up against the University of the West Indies FC at York Complex. Both games start at 3:30 p.m.

All four teams will seek to get off to a flying start in the first of six sets of games to be contested on a home-and-away format. At the completion, the top two teams on points will advance to the Premier League, replacing Barbican and Sporting Central Academy which were demoted this season.

Portmore United, who have won the national title on three occasions, will look for a quick return to the island's top football competition, but will be up against former Premier League campaigners Savannah SC, of Westmoreland.

"Building up to this play-off, we won the St Catherine Major League and then the South Central Confederation titles. Now, this is the ultimate play-off to get back into the Premier League," Portmore United FC's manager, Clive Marshall, told The Gleaner yesterday.

"We don't know much about Savannah, but the fact that they have been in the Premier League before, and once a team reaches this stage they must be confident," Marshall pointed out.

LOYAL PLAYERS

He praised his club's young players for remaining loyal to the outfit after being demoted, especially Ewan Grandison, Paul Wilson, Javon East and Ricardo Harriott.

"After being relegated, some of the players stayed with the club and I must give them credit," he added.

On the other hand, Savannah SC captured the JFF's Charley's JB Rum Western Confederation title two weeks ago - for the second time in four years. On the previous occasion, they qualified for the Premier League.

Now, they are determined to join Reno as the parish's contenders in the 2015-16 competition.

Coach Marvin Quarrie said: "The plan was to return to the island's top club football competition and winning the Confederation Super League title was a stepping stone. We hope to come away with a positive result against Portmore."

Savannah will look to Ron Daley and Leaton Galloway - scorers against Wadadah in the second-leg Confed final.

In the other game, UWI FC of KSAFA and York United of St Thomas will both hunt historic berths in the Premier League.

"We have been out of competition for over a month after winning the Super League, but preparation has been good so far. It is going to be a tough opening game and we are working very hard," coach of UWI FC, Marcel 'Fuzzy' Gayle, said.

"We are getting good support from manager Kerry-Ann Robinson. The players are upbeat, but we are aware that all the teams are winners and deserve to be at this stage," he added.

UWI will look to Andre Bernal, Mitch Wright and veteran Nicholas McMorris.

York United FC are winners of the Eastern Confederation title and will also be coming to win in front of partisan home support.