Highgate, Seba join Premier League
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Highgate United and Seba United secure their spot in next season's Premier League football competition, following contrasting results in yesterday's final round of matches in the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Confederations play-offs.
Highgate United, who are champions of the Eastern Confederation, booked their passage through to the island's top league with an exciting 2-0 victory over Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) winners Cavalier at St Mary Sports Club (formerly Gray's Inn).
Meanwhile, Seba, champions of the Western Confederation, secured their place with a come-from-behind 2-2 draw against hosts Rivoli United, at the Spanish Town Prison Oval.
Highgate, who were led to victory courtesy of second-half goals from former Arnett Gardens players Anthowe Dawkins (63rd) and Severo Murphy (82nd), finished atop the four-team table with 12 points, two ahead of Seba. Cavalier ended with seven and Rivoli (two).
"It is a great feeling and I am very delighted right now," said Calvin Lewis, head coach of Highgate. "I am happy for the players, staff and for the fans for playing the 12th-man role behind us because everyone wanted this and we worked very hard for it."
He added: "The players went out and they applied themselves and in the second half we scored and so they had to push players forward and their defence opened up and we capitalised on that by scoring on the counter-attack."
At the Prison Oval, Fidel Anderson netted both goals for hosts Rivoli in the 15th and 17th minutes, to give them a surprise 2-0 lead at half-time.
However, Montego Bay-based Seba dominated the second half, as they scored two goals in the space of 10 minutes, with Gareth Johnson netting in the 62nd and 72nd.
Omar Clarke, coach of Seba, who last played in the Premier League in 2008, was overwhelmed.
"It is a good feeling," said Clarke. "We always knew that we were going to be here and now that we are actually here, it is an overwhelming feeling."
Reflecting on the game, Clarke said: "We put ourselves in a tough position because we allowed them to score two early goals. We started the game very flat and it was after the half-time break that we were able to get ourselves back into game by scoring two goals."
Calvert Fitzgerald, coach of Rivoli, was gracious in defeat.
"We think it was a great game. We could not advance, but did not to lose the game," said Fitzgerald.
"The difference today is that we played with most of our younger players because we must invest in the youth," he added.