Leaders Harbour View hunt full points at August Town
Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sport
WITH the champions breathing down their necks, road kings and leaders Harbour View are aiming for the maximum when they invade the University of the West Indies Bowl this afternoon for a Digicel Premier League match against homesters August Town for a 3:30 p.m. kick off.
"The way we're playing we're looking to maintain our form away from home," noted Donovan Hayles, coach of the Harbour View team which has won 10 and drawn two of its 13 away matches this season.
"It's one of those inexplicable things," Hayles noted of a feat that is simply, quite remarkable.
"The team plays for each other more when we're away. We weren't having a good spell at home and because of that the players doubled their efforts because we had to get points, and big points at that on the road," he added.
UWI Bowl is actually one of those venues that brings happy memories for Harbour View, as far as this season is concerned. After starting with a plethora of draws - four to be exact - Harbour View got their very first win in 1-0 result away at August Town.
Since then, much has changed both clubs.
Harbour View have consistently hit the big Ws and now head the 12-team standings with 51 points.
August Town, which won six of their 14 home matches, were languishing at the bottom of the table until recently when Paul Young started coaching the team. They have turned things around, moving off the cellar to now occupy eighth position with 28 points.
Of note is the fact that Young left the island this week for the United States and will not be guiding the team this afternoon.
Their second round match ended 1-1 at Compound, where Harbour View have won only five of 12 matches and both teams won last week - August Town 3-1 over St Georges Sports Club at UWI Bowl; and Harbour View 3-1 away at Waterhouse.
Despite the disparity in points accumulated, both teams are under pressure to force a positive result: with the leaders engulfed in what has slowly evolved into a two-horse race with Tivoli Gardens - last year's winners - for the championship in the last couple of rounds; and August Town still very much involved in a heated relegation battle.
Tivoli, on 48, trail Harbour View by three points, with third-place Waterhouse further adrift on 41.
August Town are two points behind Sporting Central Academy and Rivoli United, but even more acute just one point ahead of three teams tied in the second relegation position - Portmore United, Humble Lion and Village United. Arnett Gardens are holding up last on 23.
Game in hand
Harbour View, Portmore United, Arnett Gardens and fifth-place St Georges Sports Club (37) all have a game in hand. Every other team has 12 matches remaining in the title race.
While Harbour View can create a bit more breathing space with a quick one-two today and Wednesday when they play their outstanding fixture, Hayles' focus is fixed on the task at hand.
"We're not looking to jump the gun," he commented. "Our approach is not to look where we are in the competition, but at the opposition that we're playing against.
"The opposition is a tough August Town team which is showing a resurgence in terms of personnel and their standings in the competition. They've acquired some real key players, efficient players who will fill gaps they were lacking earlier in the season," he pointed out.
Fabian Dawkins, who hails from August Town but had long represented Trelawny campaigners Village United, has returned home and added much spunk by scoring some goals. Another player born in August Town who returned home is experienced and big-kicking midfielder Daniel Shaw. Both are key to their chances of spoiling Harbour View's ambitions.
For Harbour View, Kavin Bryan has made a mark with goalscoring while rejoining the team from an overseas stint in Europe. Marcelino Blackburn is also back from a long injury lay-off and they have established playmaker Jermaine Hue and national reps Lovel Palmer, Richard Edwards, Dicoy Williams with goalkeeper Dwayne Miller providing additional experience to enhance Hayles' optimism.
"We are still confident and fancy our chances of taking three points," he said, "even though we're playing at UWI Bowl."
H View 25 15 6 4 30 14 16 51
Tivoli 26 12 12 2 38 18 20 48
W'house 26 12 5 9 27 27 0 41
Boys' Town 26 10 8 8 23 18 5 38
St Georges 25 9 10 6 20 15 5 37
Rivoli 26 6 12 8 26 26 0 30
Sporting 26 6 12 8 22 22 0 30
August Twn 26 7 7 12 22 35 -13 28
Portmore 25 6 9 10 16 22 -6 27
H Lion 26 6 9 11 20 29 -9 27
Village 26 5 12 9 20 29 -9 27
Arnett 25 5 8 12 22 31 -9 23
- Humble Lion vs Boys' Town Effortville Community Centre at 3:30 p.m.
- August Town vs Harbour View at UWI Bowl, Mona, at 3:30 p.m.
- Sporting Central vs Tivoli Gardens at Brancourt at 3:30 p.m.
- Rivoli United vs Arnett Gardens at Spanish Town Prison Oval at 4 p.m.
- St. Georges vs Waterhouse at Lynch Park at 5 p.m.
- Portmore United vs Village United at Ferdie Neita Park at 7:30 p.m.