Nodley Wright, Gleaner Writer
Players capitalise on 'momentum shift' to make end-of-round final
Harbour View head coach Vin Blaine was a pleased man at the end of Monday night's football extravaganza, and rightly so. Blaine had just presided over his team's come-from-behind 2-1 win over Sporting Central Academy, which placed them in the end-of-first-round final with one game still to go.
"My objective at the start of the season was to get to the end-of-round final, and we had put ourselves into pole position. We were overtaken briefly, and now we are back there," said Blaine, who took over as coach of the Harbour View Premier League team, in the off-season, after making his name locally as a coach of women's football.
For Blaine, who must have been under the microscope of local football observers, what was really pleasing to him was the response of his team, which looked second best in the first half of the encounter played at home.
"I said to them at half-time that they need to settle down and play football.
"I am a person who believes in momentum shifts, and I told my players that when the momentum shift comes, they have to be prepared to take advantage of that. They did, and Sporting Central did not respond," explained the man credited by many as one of the co-founders of the club.
"It was a game of two halves, really. Sporting Central had the better of the first half. In the first half, we never had any rhythm. We came up against a team that was running and we were chasing the game," he added.
As if realising that the game was slipping away, Harbour View refocused, and two telling supplies from the majestic Jermaine Hue and equally pinpoint headers from Damion Harwood did the trick. The first resulted from a foul on the hard-running Joel Senior by Christopher Banner in a very dangerous area on the right flank near the penalty box. The Sporting Central bench knew it as they shook their heads with collective knowledge as Hue strode forward.
Hue's curling free kick was met with a diving header by Harwood across goalkeeper Sanchez Lloyd, who had no chance.
Harbour View's dominance continued as the fluency and composure displayed by Sporting Central in the first half deserted them. They looked like a team unsure of themselves. The predictable winner came in the 83rd minute when captain Linval Lewis unwisely gave up a corner. The familiar look descended on the Sporting Central bench as Hue took up his position.
Harwood, who has been enjoying an excellent on-field relationship with Hue, stood unchallenged and headed into the net to send the Harbour View supporters into ecstasy.
That feeling of ecstasy was felt by the travelling Sporting Central supporters in the 32nd minute when François Swaby, who had missed earlier efforts, bundled his team ahead. Unlike Harbour View's feeling, Sporting Central's would not last.
"I think we played a very good first half but came out flat for the second half.
"We spoke about the threat of Jermaine Hue from the dead-ball situations and we still gave up opportunities for him, which is really sad," Sporting Central coach Nigel Stewart said ruefully.
"Now that we have no chance of getting to the end-of-round final, our plan is to win the next game that we have and get into the second round with a momentum and take it from there," he said with a tone of resignation.
Harbour View's 22 points means they cannot be overtaken by two teams with just one set of games remaining in the round. Behind them are second-place Boys' Town on 21 points and Portmore United. Boys' Town and Portmore meet on Sunday, and one will join Harbour View in November 12 final.