Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Sporting Central Academy will seek to maintain their dominance over Arnett Gardens and also their position atop the 12-team standings, when they travel to the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex this evening for the teams' eighth-round Red Stripe Premier League encounter at 6 p.m.
The Nigel Stewart-coached Sporting Central have amassed 16 points, registering five wins, one draw and a defeat. This type of start is customary for the Clarendon-based club, as they lost only one of their opening eight league matches last season, but faltered badly to finish ninth.
"I think they (Sporting Central players) are more mature this year and I think they want to win not only the first end-of-round final, but also the title," Stewart said.
"We have set a long-term goal and a short-term goal. In the past, internal problems cost us our momentum when we had a good run going, but this year, I think the management staff put out a lot and they are ensuring that we are comfortable. This year, the performance will be different," he added.
Sporting have lost only twice to the Junglists in three seasons (12 games). One of these defeats was, however, suffered in the team's most recent league meeting, when a Newton Sterling fifth-minute strike was enough to decide the game.
"The stats show that we have a good record against them (Arnett), but we are not going to take them lightly," Stewart said.
Sporting Central, along with Arnett, have scored 10 goals so far in league play to be joint second on the scoring chart. LeVaughn Williams leads Sporting with four goals. They have also been the most miserly in defence, conceding a mere three goals.
"Over the years, plenty goals have been scored on us, so this year we set out not to make that mistake again and be as mean as possible at the back," Stewart said.
Arnett Gardens suffered their first defeat of the season on Monday night, going down 3-1 to Waterhouse and are eager to get back to winning ways.
"This match coming up on Sunday is very important. For one, we haven't beaten Sporting Central for some time and they have been getting the better of us," Arnett assistant coach Lijyasu Simms said.
"Getting three points on Sunday will level the playing field again, so we are in training and working very hard, trying to get the players focused and motivated, so that we can go out on Sunday and deliver," he added.
Arnett have been hit by injury early in the season, with creative midfielder Errol Stevens yet to feature, having undergone surgery. Joining Stevens on the sidelines are Ricardo Oldham, Gary Williams, Shawn Laws and Andrew Phang. Rohan Reid and Kemar Brown are, however, back in training and could at least make the bench today.
Lamar Nelson leads the Junglists in scoring with four goals, followed by captain Kirk Ramsey, who has managed three.
Savannah vs Highgate United - 3:30 p.m.
Humble Lion vs Boys' Town - 3:30 p.m.
Arnett Gardens vs Sporting Central - 6 p.m.
Harbour View vs Cavalier - 7 p.m.
Montego Bay United vs Waterhouse - 7 p.m.
Tivoli Gardens vs Portmore United - 5:30 p.m.