Top-six spot on the line - RSPL returns with five matches
After being one of only two teams to taste Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) action in midweek after the referees refused to take up their whistles, UWI FC will host Tivoli Gardens in a crucial mid-table clash.
UWI FC, who have played a match more than their opponents, are two points ahead and hold on to the prized possession of sixth place, which gives them an opportunity to play off for the title. Tivoli Gardens, on the other hand, will swap positions with them if they are able to get the victory.
"We are in sixth position and are playing against the seventh placed. Our mission is to further separate ourselves from Tivoli and maintain our position in the top six by getting the three points," Andrew Peart, coach of UWI FC, said of today's game.
"We want to maintain the form we have had in the last three games. We are winning again and are scoring goals, which is good for us," added Peart, whose team has won two of their last three games and drawn the other, following a lengthy winless run, which saw them slip down the table from a position of challenging for the leadership.
Tivoli Gardens have had more fruitful times as well but have only managed to collect five points from their last five games, winning just one over that stretch. Club stalwart Jermaine Johnson is, however, optimistic that things are looking up.
"To be honest, our last game against Mount Pleasant was a great game for us. It is one of the best games that I have seen Tivoli Gardens play this season, and to get the goal was special.
"It was a big bonus for both me and the team, and it has boosted our morale heading into this game," said Johnson, who scored a late equaliser in that game to give Tivoli Gardens a share of the points.
Today's game, Johnson said, was a massive one as top-six position is on the line.
"It is like a final for us. Every three points that we get boosts our chances of getting back into the playoff position, and this is a big thing for us. What we need as a team is to come back focused, and we will get the job done," said Johnson, the veteran, who is in his third stint with the club after playing abroad.
Beating UWI FC at the Mona Bowl is not out of the question for Tivoli Gardens as they did so 1-0 when they met in the first round. As far as UWI FC's Peart is concerned, though, that game will have no bearing on this one.
"The most important thing is not to get caught up with the fact that they beat us previously and at this venue. It is a new game and a new challenge for which we have to be ready," Peart said.
At Stadium East, leaders Portmore United will be aiming to repel the challenge of another title aspirant when they play away to third-placed Cavalier FC. Last week, they drew 1-1 with second-placed Waterhouse, and this week, they will be looking to end their sequence of draws at three. A fourth could see them lose their top spot as the team of the second round, Waterhouse, are expected to get the better of the struggling Montego Bay United at Wespow Park.
Ninth-placed Reno are one of three teams on 16 points and only goal difference separates them from Montego Bay United and Harbour View. They have played to draws in their last two matches and will make a major statement with a win over the visiting Humble Lion, who now field two of their former players in Craig Foster and Fancy-Hue Stewart.
Harbour View FC's 3-0 win over Montego Bay United on Monday night was their best result for some time, but they are still in the relegation zone. Mount Pleasant are a much deeper squad with more weapons, but they have misfired on a number of occasions against weaker opposition at home.
- 3 p.m.: Reno vs Humble Lion - Frome Sports Complex
- 3 p.m.: Mount Pleasant vs Harbour View - Drax Hall Sports Complex
- 3 p.m.: UWI FC vs Tivoli Gardens - UWI Mona Bowl
- 5 p.m.: Cavalier vs Portmore United - Stadium East
- 3 p.m.: Montego Bay United vs Waterhouse - Wespow Park
- 8:35 p.m.: Arnett Gardens vs Dunbeholden - Anthony Spaulding Complex