Nodley Wright, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Of the six games on in today's Digicel Premier League (DPL), the one which most catches the eye is the Tivoli Gardens versus Sporting Central matchup as it appears set to be an even and entertaining contest.
In the two previous meetings between the two teams, current League leaders, Tivoli Gardens, have defeated the sixth-placed team by the odd goal. On both occasions Tivoli Gardens had their strongest team available but today could be a different story. While they will enjoy home advantage, they will be without two of the players who have provided the bulk of their goals. Devon Hodges, the team's leading scorer, is away in Vietnam while Keammar Daley is still nursing a hamstring injury.
In the absence of Hodges and Daley, Tivoli Gardens will look to Navion Boyd who is still not his sharpest since returning from a shoulder injury and Roland Dean. In reserve they have Owen Powell and the leading scorer in the Under-21 competition, Dane Kelly, and last season's leading Under-21 scorer Michael Spence.
Despite the results between the two teams, Alvin Shaw, assistant coach of Tivoli Gardens, acknowledged the quality of Sporting Central.
"In my assessment of the first rounds in terms of all the teams we played, to me they (Sporting Central) were the most competitive," he said.
What Tivoli Gardens have used to get the better of Sporting Central, according to Shaw, is the experience of their players.
"I know they will be coming very hard at us but we will use the experience of our players. That is how we got the result the last time we played against them because they controlled approximately 60 per cent of the game, but we were able to come away with the win. Our thing is just to play an intelligent game and use our experience to keep them at bay," Shaw explained.
Sporting Central showed their quality in the second round as they marched to the end of second round final while playing good quality football. During that march, the likes of Renoir Elliott, Kadian Wynter and the attacking trio of François Swaby, the competition's joint leading scorer, Gary McIntosh and Levaughn Williams were outstanding for them. Goalkeeper André Blake and defender Akeem Annakie also showed that they have come of age.
Even without three of their key players in captain Jevaughn Watson, the injured David Boswell and the suspended Marlon Allen, Sporting Central could still pose problems for Tivoli Gardens.
"Normally, when we play against Tivoli and lose against them, we always concede early so that always set us back as we have to play from behind," Sporting Central coach, Donovan Duckie, said before explaining what his team will have to do differently to reverse the fortunes.
"We have to be very stable defensively and possess the ball a lot against them because they are a quality team and they are an attacking team," he added.
At Drewsland, Waterhouse, despite their struggles, should get the better of Benfica who showed courage in their fighting loss to Tivoli Gardens last week, while Harbour View should be given the edge over the battling St Georges at Lynch Park.
Portmore United are expected to continue their good form with a win over Village United while the Arnett Gardens-Reno matchup as well as the Humble Lion-Boys' Town games could go either way.
6 p.m: Arnett Gardens vs Reno - Anthony Spaulding Complex
3 p.m: Humble Lion vs Boys Town - Effortville Community Centre
6:30 p.m: Portmore United vs Village United - Ferdie Neita Park
6:30 p.m: St Georges vs Harbour View - Lynch Park
5 p.m: Tivoli Gardens vs Sporting Central - Edward Seaga Complex
4 p.m: Waterhouse vs Benfica - Drewsland Stadium