Thu | Sep 19, 2019

Spotlight on fight for survival

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2019 | 12:33 AM

Montego Bay United’s Deshane Beckford.
Montego Bay United’s Deshane Beckford.

Even with the trio of Portmore United, Waterhouse, and Cavalier battling for lead of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), the focus will be on the lower half of the table, where the bottom four are engaged in a fight for survival.

The four are Harbour View, first-time entrants Dunbeholden, western Jamaica stalwarts Reno and Montego Bay United. Of major interest is the matchup between the best placed of the strugglers and team dubbed the ‘Stars of the East’, Harbour View, the worst, placed Montego Bay United, recent history’s pride of western Jamaica.

While Harbour View are in the strongest position of the four, their points haul from the last five games has been the joint poorest along with Reno. Both have taken two from two draws, losing the other three. Montego United have bettered them, taking three points from one win and four losses. Newcomers Dunbeholden, who were almost permanent residents at the foot of the table, have had the best form over the same period with eight points from two wins, two draws, and one loss.

As far as today’s matchups go most eyes and ears will be focused in the direction of Wespow Park. There, hosts Montego Bay United, fresh from the hiring of Brazilian coach Luciano Gama and the importation of three Ghanaians – Eric Acquah, Albert Asare, and Oduro Francis – will look to do their survival-chances a favour with a win.

MOST POTENT FORCE

Key to Montego Bay’s chances of a victory is Deshane Beckford, one of their repatriated sons, who, like Johann Weatherley, will come face to face with the team with which they spent the first half of the season. Beckford has been Montego Bay United’s most potent force since the start of the year.

Harbour View have brought in reinforcements, but the losses of Beckford and Peter-Lee Vassell have been huge. The most prolific scorer on their roster is Shemar Nairne. Midfielder Mark Alves is the next best with two, which means that they will need to find additional ammunition to ensure that they come away with the victory despite Montego Bay United’s porous backline.

At Drax Hall, Dunbeholden will be hoping that lightning strikes the same place twice when they play away to Mount Pleasant despite this being their home game. Dunbeholden won their first game of the season when they defeated Mount Pleasant at this same venue, which could have influenced their decision to give up home advantage.

The St Catherine-based Dunbeholden have been boosted by the additions in the January transfer window, but if both teams play true to form, it should be a difficult afternoon for the visitors. Francois Swaby, who joined Mount Pleasant last month, has added reliability and additional presence to their front line.

At UWI Reno’s chances of getting a much-needed win will not be helped by UWI FC’s need to win to retain their position in the top six. Though UWI FC are looking solid again, an upset is not an impossibility, but FC Reno will have to play out of their skins to pull it off.

Today’s Games:

n 3 p.m.: Dunbeholden vs Mount Pleasant – Drax Hall

n 3 p.m.: Montego Bay United

vs Harbour View – Wespow Park

n 3 p.m.: Portmore United vs Cavalier – Prison Oval

n 7 p.m.: Tivoli Gardens vs Arnett Gardens – Edward Seaga Complex

n 3 p.m.: UWI FC vs Reno

– UWI Mona Bowl

Tomorrow’s game:

n 8:35 p.m.: Waterhouse FC

vs Humble Lion

– Waterhouse Stadium