Sat | Feb 22, 2020

RSPL quarterfinal showdowns - UWI FC vs Mount Pleasant; Arnett Gardens vs Cavalier

Published:Sunday | March 24, 2019 | 12:34 AMNodley Wright - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Mount Pleasant’s Cardel Benbow.
Ryan Miller – UWI FC
Arnett’s Fabian Reid (front)

The Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex will be a hive of activity this evening as the intensity of the Red Stripe Premier League gets to another level for the first-leg quarterfinals.

In the 5 p.m. opener, Mount Pleasant FC of St Ann will go up against the schemers of UWI FC, with the youthfully refreshing Cavalier taking on the tough homeboys Arnett Gardens in the feature at 8 o’clock. True fans of football could not ask for a better evening of entertainment and a full house is expected.

If all teams lived up to expectations, there will be no disappointment. Based on form many would expect Mount Pleasant and Cavalier to end the day in advantageous positions as the St Ann-based team has the longest unbeaten run heading into the play-offs. They have also improved their goal scoring and tightened up defensively. On the other hand, UWI FC have shown that, on their day, they can beat any team.

Coach Donovan Duckie has managed to get his players at Mount Pleasant clicking at the right time, with new recruit Francois Swaby providing the finishing touches to the industry and creativity of the likes of Cardel Benbow, Kemar Beckford, and Daniel Green. For UWI FC, the deceptive Ryan Miller, Akeem Thenstead, Rochane Smith, and Anthony Greenland, if fit will be key.

Cavalier’s Rudolph Speid has never been short on confidence or afraid to give his opponents credit. His stance was the same ahead of today’s game.

“I don’t think it matters as the game is over 180 minutes, in that it is over two legs, so home advantage is not a big deal,” said Speid about the fact that they will be playing at Arnett Gardens’ home.

Of more concern to Speid was the nature and mentality of the opposition.

“They are very attacking. They are blessed with a lot of attacking players, a lot of industry and effort especially in front of their home crowd.

“Also, I think that they will be probably be coming with a chip on their shoulder for us, as throughout the season, they have only managed to get one point off us,” Speid explained pointing out that his charges have won twice and drawn the other on the three occasions they have met.

Arnett Gardens’ assistant coach Eugene Williams exuded the same unflappable quality that marked him out as a player in his days on the field.

“Things will be right tomorrow. The preliminaries are over. It is now top six, so the time is now. It will be a different ball-game tomorrow,” he said alluding to their indifferent run which had fans worrying about their falling out of the top six.

Williams appeared unaffected by the absence of their midfield magician Vishinul Harris, who according to reports, picked up another injury midweek.

“We have lost a few keys players including Vishinul, but some have returned. Marvin Morgan and Kemal Malcolm are two of them who are available,” said Williams.

For Williams, who deputised successfully for coach Jerome Waite, the last time he was on national duty, his team’s biggest challenge will be keeping the goals out.

“Of the top six teams we conceded the most. We know the goals will come for us, but we just have to keep them out and we are confident that we will do that,” he said.

On the attacking front, Nicholas Hamilton, Alex Marshall, Chevone Marsh, and Leonardo Rankine should figure prominently for Cavalier, while Fabian Reid, Michaelous Martin, Zhelano Barnes and Lamar Nelson should carry Arnett Gardens’ fight.

Today’s games

- 5:30 p.m: UWI FC vs Mount Pleasant

- 8 p.m: Arnett Gardens vs Cavalier