Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Sandals gain first RSPL berth

Published:Monday | July 3, 2017 | 7:00 AMMarc Stamp
Sandals players celebrating their team qualifying for the Red Stripe Premier League with Cavalier at the Stadium East field yesterday.
Cavaliers’ Alex Marshall (left) turns away from Sandals South Coast players Junior Neil and Ron Daley (right) in their Magnum-Charley’s JB-JFF Red Stripe Premier League qualifier at the Stadium East field yesterday.
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Sandals South Coast advanced to the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) for the first time when they held Cavalier SC to a 1-1 draw in the final round of the Magnum-Charley's JB-JFF promotion play-off series at Stadium East Complex yesterday.

Cavalier, who had already qualified a week ago, finished on 10 points ahead of Sandals South Coast on nine. Rivoli, who slammed Priory 8-0 in the other game at the Spanish Town Prison Oval, ended on eight points. Priory finished last in the four-team series on four points.

Sandals came into the game in search of at least a point and earned it courtesy of a goal by Dervin Campbell in the 21st minute. However, George Pinnock levelled for Cavalier in the 33rd minute.

It was a game that both teams did enough not to lose. Cavalier ensured that they won the top-prize money of $200,000 and the trophy, while Sandals won $150,000 and also a trophy

Sandals assistant coach Orville Bryan was in charge of the team in the absence of head coach Aaron Lawrence, who is away with the Jamaica national Under-15 team in Cayman as coach.

Bryan lauded Lawrence for taking the team from the lower division in the Westmoreland Football Association to the nation's top-flight competition.

"Aaron Lawrence is the man. He started the programme from scratch. He must be jumping in Cayman on hearing the news of our qualification. He was calling throughout the game for updates," Bryan said.

 

TAKING THE LEAD

 

Looking back at the game, Bryan said that the plan was to take the lead and control the tempo of the game.

"Our aim was to try and possess the ball for long periods. We scored an early goal, which was good, but they scored quickly after to level the score. We came close to scoring again, but the point is enough to take us into the Premier League," the assistant coach shared.

Sandals is now looking forward to the Red Stripe Premier League next season.

"Now is celebration time. Then when Coach Lawrence comes back, we will make plans for the Premier League. We have the ears of Corporate Jamaica with Mr (Butch) Stewart as chairman of Sandals (Resorts). They are fully in support of the programme, and, most of the players do daily work at Sandals," Bryan pointed out.

Technical director of Cavalier, Rudolph Speid, said that having qualified last week, the team's plan was to top the series.

"We were concerned about topping the group and winning the prize money for doing so," Speid said.