Nodley Wright, Gleaner Writer
When leaders Harbour View and promoted Cavalier meet at Drewsland Mini Stadium at 9:00 tonight in the second end-of-round final dubbed the 'Battle of the East', a lot more will be at stake than bragging rights for the title of best team from that side of Kingston.
The trophy and prize money of $250,000 will increase confidence and bring some amount of satisfaction to the winners, but both teams are playing to cement themselves as genuine title contenders.
"This will be our second successive end-of-round final and we lost the first. We are going into this game with the mindset that we cannot lose another," Harbour View's coach Vin Blaine stated.
"Losing two successive finals would not be good for a team aspiring to be champions. In saying that we will not be taking Cavalier lightly because they are a vastly improved team and that can be seen by their performance in the second round," said Blaine, whose team won their first round meeting 4-0 at Harbour View and tied the other 0-0 at Stadium East.
Cavalier's general manager, Kenrick Barnaby, said getting to the end-of-round final is a significant achievement for his club, especially in this their 50th year of existence.
"Getting to this final and the way we have acquitted ourselves in this competition, especially in the second round, is a great achievement. It means so much to us in our 50th year of existence and the fact that we were out of top flight football for 18 to 19 years makes it an even greater feeling," Barnaby said.
"When Harbour View beat us in the first round we were still in the return lounge and had not become accustomed to life back in the League. The results since then have shown that we are on our way back, the Duncan Destroyers are back," Barnaby added emphatically.
Barnaby said the players are aware of the importance of the game to the club's history and they are up for the challenge. Cavalier's last game may not be seen as the ideal preparation for a match of this magnitude, as they were defeated 4-0 last Thursday in a Jackie Bell Knock- Out. Not so, said Barnaby.
"We lost 0-4 to Waterhouse, but there were some lessons that came out of the game and the technical team took them on board and worked on them in training on Saturday," explained Barnaby, whose team will be looking to the goalscoring of Claudious Blackburn, the excellence of goalkeeper Gariece McPherson and the steady head of the experienced Girvon Brown.
Harbour View, on the other hand, will be looking to the maestro Jermaine Hue, Joel Senior, Montrose Phinn, Ranique Muir and Christopher Harvey to lead their fight as the talented Jermie Lynch and Damion Harwood will sit out because of injury.