Relegation candidates battle to stalemate
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
It's as you were in the bottom six of the Digicel Premier League, as hosts Arnett Gardens played out a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Rivoli United, at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex last night.
The result means that both teams left the venue in the same position that they were before the start of the game, with Rivoli in ninth place on 39 points and Arnett Gardens sitting one point and one spot behind.
Both teams looked lively from the start, but neither was able to make any meaningful in-roads into the other's defensive third, as they crossed blades in a bruising midfield contest.
Chances at either end were few and far between but Arnett Gardens' Kevin Wilson and Newton Sterling both managed half chances midway in the opening half.
There was little difference in the second half as the two relegation candidates traded blows in the middle of the park.
Rivoli marksman Devon Hodges came close to opening the score five minutes after the restart, but his free-kick from the left side of the penalty box was expertly tipped over the crossbar by Julian McLeish in the Arnett Gardens goal.
Minutes later Wilson responded for the hosts, forcing Rivoli keeper Marlon Henry low to his right after latching on to a deft headed pass from his strike partner, Sterling.
Garfield Gillespie could not keep his shot from the edge of the box down in the 74th minute, as both teams began to take a few more chances with the clock winding down.
Arnett Gardens continued to pile on the pressure in search of the much-needed three points and on 78 minutes, Sterling should have found the back of the net. The towering striker fired tamely with his weaker right foot, straight into the arms of Henry after working his way behind the Rivoli defence.
He did, however, return to demand a much more serious effort from Henry on the stroke of full time, after his looping header was plucked out of the 'pigeon hole' by the goalkeeper.
Rivoli's coach, Oniel Thomas, was happy with the result and credited both teams for the keenly contested encounter.
"It was a hard game. Both teams fought hard for the points and I think at the end the result favoured both teams based on how the game went. We didn't come for a draw but looking at the game, I would say that it's a fair result," said Thomas.
Hugh 'Bingy' Blair, assistant coach at Arnett Gardens, agreed with Thomas' assessment of the game.
"It was a very hard and tough game. Rivoli came hard at us and we were not able to put the ball on the ground and bounce it around the way we wanted to. We got a couple chances but we weren't able to make the most of them, but the team fought well," said Blair.
In three other matches, Humble Lion thrashed August Town 4-1 at the Effortville Community Centre, Waterhouse blanked Boys' Town 2-0 at Waterhouse Mini Stadium, while Portmore United notched a 3-1 victory over Sporting Central Academy at Ferdie Neita Park.