Nodley Wright, Gleaner Writer
A stunning free kick from Marcelino Blackburn in the 66th minute and a fine save from the previously shaky goalkeeper Damion Hyatt in the 90th minute preserved a point for Arnett Gardens in their Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) encounter against Tivoli Gardens on Sunday.
Playing on their home ground at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, the 'Junglists', as the Arnett Gardens team is commonly called, found themselves trailing the visitors 0-2 in the 15th minute. Fabian Campbell struck first in the fifth minute and Nicholas Scott added a second in the 15th as the Arnett Gardens supporters again questioned the effectiveness of Hyatt between the sticks.
While Tivoli Gardens continued to look the better team in the first half, the Arnett Gardens team never gave up. They created chances of their own but could not find the back of the net until Ricardo Oldham's 30-yard effort through a crowd of players eluded the grasp of the diving Edsel Scott in the 58th minute. That goal really energised the home team as they went in search of the equaliser.
Arnett Gardens' pressure resulted in the second goal when captain Kirk Ramsay was fouled by Kemar Flemmings about 22 yards from the goal. Running up from an angular approach reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo, Blackburn's left-footed effort struck with ferocity looked like a goal the moment it left his boot as it curled beautifully into the upper right hand corner of the goal.
"It was a gutsy performance from the guys and I have to lift my hat off to them. They really showed character to come back from two goals down," a very pleased assistant coach Lijyasu Simms offered at the end of the game.
"We wanted three points but we got one and we are satisfied," he added.
On the issue of the goalkeeping, Simms said a goalkeeping coach has been brought in and it would take time for the results to show. Hyatt's smart save from Jermaine Allen in the 90th minute showed that there is still hope for his team.
Tivoli Gardens' assistant coach, Alvin Shaw, was a mixture of disappointment and satisfaction.
"It is a little bit disappointing, but I am still going to give the players credit. They gave 110 per cent," a relaxed Shaw said.
"We started out brilliantly. We got two goals in the first half. We were affected by injuries in the second half. One of our defenders had a terrible stomach problem and another dislocated a finger.
"I am proud of the guys nonetheless," continued Shaw, who presided over a major turnaround from the team's meeting in the first round where they lost 1-3 at the Edward Seaga Stadium.
With the result, Arnett Gardens remained in fourth position on 18 points, while Tivoli Gardens slipped from ninth to 10th position.