Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Excitement rising in RSPL

Published:Sunday | March 26, 2017 | 3:00 AMNodley Wright
Rodave Murray (left) of Waterhouse in action against Maverley- Hughenden's Andrew Peddlar in a Red Stripe Premier League encounter at the Waterhouse Stadium.

With four match days to go in the regular season, barring outstanding matches for defending champions Montego Bay United, Humble Lion and two each for Portmore United and Reno FC, the excitement in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) is rising.

Things are just as tight at the top of the league as they are competitive at the bottom. Five teams in the top half of the league are battling for the bonus prize of $1 million, which will go to the top team on points. They are also in contention for an automatic place in the semi-final round of the playoffs, a reward for the top two finishers in the regular season on points.

At the other end of the table, four teams - Jamalco, Maverley-Hughenden, Waterhouse and Boys' Town - are battling to not be among the relegated two. Three of the four relegation battlers will be in action today with the other, Maverley-Hughenden going up against Reno in the opening game of the Monday night double-header at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex.

TOUGH GAMES

All of today's games are tough and interesting encounters, but the one which will be of most interest to neutrals and fans of attractive football is the Waterhouse vs Montego Bay United clash set for 6 p.m. at Drewsland. This is a match neither can afford to lose, but for different reasons.

Defending champions Montego Bay United could have been in an ideal position to take over the leadership position in the league had they not lost their last two matches to Harbour View and Boys' Town, respectively. Instead of being a point off the lead with a game in hand, they are seven away with a game in hand.

A third successive loss could see them slip out of the top four if Portmore United get the better of Harbour View today and also come out on top in their outstanding matches.

Waterhouse were of the view that they were sailing in smooth waters after getting a few wins under the guidance of Glendon 'Admiral' Bailey. Three successive losses, just goal difference of one away from relegation and they are back in choppy seas.

For Waterhouse to have a chance of winning today, they will have to score, and for goals to be a reality, Rodave Murray and Kemar Beckford will have to feature. Montego Bay United, on the other hand, will look to the increasingly consistent Donovan Carey, the rejuvenated Owayne Gordon and Dino Williams.

Boys' Town have done in their last three games what they have failed to do before all season by winning three in a row. If they can better that by winning their fourth successive match, then it would be very difficult to see them going down to the lower league this season.

Tivoli Gardens are in second place, but have not been the most consistent of late, suffering two losses and playing to a draw with Maverley-Hughenden in their last five games. Boys' Town will be hoping that today is one of their off days and that the competition's leading scorer, Jermaine Johnson, doesn't pack his shooting boots.

Today's games

o 3:30 p.m.: Portmore United vs Harbour View - Prison Oval

o 3:30 p.m.: Jamalco vs Arnett Gardens - Wembley Centre of Excellence

o 6 p.m.: Waterhouse vs Montego Bay United - Drewsland Stadium

o 3:30 p.m.: Tivoli Gardens vs Boys' Town - Edward Seaga Complex

Tomorrow's games

o 5:30 p.m.: Maverley-Hughenden vs Reno - Anthony Spaulding Complex

o 8 p.m.: UWI FC vs Humble Lion - Anthony Spaulding Complex