Nodley Wright, Gleaner Writer
Portmore United coach Geoffrey Hewitt was full of praise for his team, which played an entire half with 10 men, and for a while nine, to earn a draw and a valuable point away to Arnett Gardens following a 3-3 draw in the Red Stripe Premier League football match at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Sunday night.
"It was really a gutsy performance from the guys, and I want to congratulate them.
"We went down a man and conceded another goal, and they fought back gallantly, and I have to be proud of them," a pleased assistant coach, Hewitt, said at the end of the game.
Needing a win to keep the pressure up on leaders Harbour View, the defending champions got off to a flying start when Rosario Harriott fired them ahead in the seventh minute. That lead lasted eight minutes as Kirk Ramsay pulled his team level, only for Aldane Grant to put Portmore ahead again. Ricardo Oldham drew Arnett Gardens level once more and things really took a turn when Kareem Manning was ejected in the 44th minute as his foul tackle denied Ramsay a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Ramsay converted from the penalty spot as Arnett Gardens went into the half leading 3-2. Portmore United really applied themselves in the second half as they hardly looked like a team playing short.
Arnett Gardens, on the other hand, lost their composure as they took on a more physical approach. A number of chances were to fall to Arnett Gardens' forwards, especially the two-goal man Ramsay, but they were wasteful.
In addition to maintaining their cool, Portmore United rode their luck as after making all three of their substitutions, they were lucky not to have substitute Stephen Williams sent off as he retaliated to a tackle, but was pardoned by the referee.
Andrew Christie, who scored the equalising goal in the 70th minute, had to be taken off the field immediately after for treatment and spent quite some time off.
Hewitt did not single out anyone for praise, stating that it was "really a team effort".
For Calvin Lewis, a former coach of Portmore United, the draw was an opportunity lost.
"Portmore United got off to a flying start, but we settled down and got going and went ahead before half-time. With more discipline, we would have won," Lewis rued.
"As a former coach of Portmore United, I knew what to expect of them; we had to possess the ball and run at them. We did that but missed too many chances," added Lewis, whose team despite improving their points tally to 25, slipped two places to fifth behind Waterhouse and Tivoli Gardens, which both won.
Portmore United, with the point earned, improved to 27 and closed the gap on leaders Harbor View to four, following the latter's 1-2 loss to the battling Highgate United.