Old rivals clash in the Jungle - Hosts Arnett look to halt Tivoli’s winning run
Arnett Gardens will seek to halt the steady march of their neighbours and rivals Tivoli Gardens up the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) table and, at the same time, stem their slide down, when both teams meet this evening in one of four games on today.
The slow-starting Tivoli Gardens, who at one point this season looked up at every other team, are now on a three-game winning run and are intent on adding the scalp of their major rivals for the second time this season. Currently they sit in seventh position, two points behind sixth-place Arnett Gardens.
“We are still looking for a top-six position as that is one of our short-term objectives. We are looking forward to being involved in the play-offs and only a top-six finish at the end of the regular season can help us with that,” Phillip Williams, coach of Tivoli Gardens, said.
This matchup, Williams added, is a very important one to both teams and one his charges always look forward to.
“It is one that we always look forward to. It does not matter where we are in the table, this encounter always delivers. We definitely looking forward to delivering in this one and getting to the position that we desire,” Williams continued.
His squad, which was strengthened by some additions in the transfer window, is raring to go, added Williams, who will be looking to the likes of the veteran Jermaine Johnson, Kemar Flemmings, and the youngster Trayvon Reid to provide the spark.
Arnett Gardens, on the other hand, will be looking to home support to get them back to winnings ways having lost to both Portmore United and Humble Lion in successive matches. Another loss to Humble Lion was that of their influential midfielder, Vishinul Harris, who could not resist the pull of a bigger pay packet. Paul Wilson, a major force in Arnett Gardens’ early season good run, is still out nursing injury and could also be a big miss.
“Yes, we are missing Paul Wilson who is out on injury and Vishinul left for Humble Lion, but we have a keen youngster such as Romeo Guthrie who has shown that he has the heart for the competition. There are also people like Tamar Edwards and the versatile Fabian Reid and not to mention Kemal Malcolm who is always good for a goal or two,” Alex Thomas, coach of Arnett Gardens, said.
This clash, Thomas said, could be a season-defining one.
“This game is very crucial. We are in sixth position and want to get back up in a more comfortable and competitive position where we are challenging for the leadership.
“They are looking to get into the top six and we are in their way. When you look at a derby clash such as this, there is so much to it, so much more than football, so you know that neither team will want to come out on the losing end,” Thomas explained.
Today’s game will also be a season tiebreaker, as in the two games so far, both teams have won on their home ground. With this game being at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, Arnett Gardens should have the advantage but Thomas is taking nothing for granted.
“This will be a tough one,” was Thomas’ only prediction.
Portmore United should go into their game against lowly Vere United as favourites. Not only have the defending champions rediscovered their scoring boots, but they are playing with a level of confidence which should have the other teams concerned as the competition winds down. Vere United appear to have resigned themselves to the fate of going down to the lower leagues and this will play right into the hands of Portmore United.
A win for Portmore United could see them move into third position, even temporarily, as Humble Lion will not be in action until Monday night when they play away to Mount Pleasant.
UWI FC are seven points behind 10th-place Molynes FC their best bet of overtaking a team above them. Home advantage should help the University boys to determine their own fate and a win for them will make the race heading into the close of season even more interesting. Molynes United have lost the leadership and goals of Jermy Nelson, but in Calvert Fitzgerald they have a coach who has successfully navigated the relegation fight and his experience will prove invaluable.
n 3 p.m.: Portmore United vs Vere United – Spanish Town Prison Oval
n 3 p.m.: UWI FC vs Molynes United – UWI Mona Bowl
n 5 p.m..: Cavalier vs Harbour View – Stadium East Complex
n 8 p.m.: Arnett Gardens vs Tivoli Gardens – Anthony Spaulding Complex
n 8 p.m.: Mount Pleasant FA vs Humble Lion FC @ Drax Hall Sports Complex