Nodley Wright, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The city of Montego Bay will be the envy of Kingston this evening when it hosts the game of the day which features defending champions Portmore United and the pride of western Jamaica, Montego Bay United, at the Catherine Hall Stadium. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
Not only will two of the teams which play the most attractive football in the country's top-flight football be on show but the Second City will see a return of one of its brightest talents, Ricardo Morris. Morris has been enjoying his best form in recent weeks as the man pulling the strings for his team from midfield. Unlike previous times when Morris was seen as the darling of the parish when he paraded alongside Allan Ottey and John Barrett for St James High in the daCosta Cup, he will be representing the visitors with the hope of doing damage to Montego Bay's title chances.
Of the two teams, Portmore United have the better chance of taking the title even though they are 12 points behind leaders Harbour View, who do not get into action until tomorrow. For them, today is a situation that reads like 'when the cat is away the mice will play'. A win for Portmore would see them cut Harbour View's lead to nine points. It would be even more interesting if Harbour View do not get full points from their game against Boys' Town tomorrow as both Portmore and Harbour View will meet next week.
Despite the many situations that could play out in this game and after, Portmore United's coach André Waugh is just focused on the immediate task at hand.
Focused on MoBay
"It is all about us going out there and doing what we have to do.
"Every game for us is like a final, so we are not so much focused on Harbour View because we play them a week from now. We are focused on MoBay and going out there and doing our best," said the man whose team currently sits on 46 points to Montego Bay United's 39.
"We have the second-best away record and that to us is very pleasing and we know what we have to do and the players are up for it.
"We are yet to concede a goal on the road this round and we have averaged two and a half goals. It is for us to continue what we are doing on the road, which is to score goals and prevent them from scoring," added Waugh.
Crucial to Portmore's impressive defensive record is the form of captain and national defender Adrian Reid. As if refusing to give up on a national invitation, the elegant defender has been at his best in recent weeks, displaying excellent reading of the game, well-timed tackles, organisation of his unit and passing well out of the back. Suela McCalla and Jamar Jackson have added bite to the Portmore attack while Ewan Grandison is recovering his form, but one of the men who has many tongues wagging is the veteran Kevin Deerr who delights with his masterful displays.
The Montego Bay United team is one of class and one which has been punching below its weight in recent weeks during which they lost 2-0 away to Humble Lion, drew 2-2 with Highgate after giving up a lead and drawing away with Boys' Town, again after taking the lead. In Dino Williams they have a forward who on his day can destroy any team. If he teams up well with Lesley St Fleur, Ottey and Leon Irving, then the Portmore United backline and goalkeeper Kemar Foster could be in trouble.
But while Montego Bay's attacking abilities are well known, it is in the defensive aspect that they will have to be tight. If the likes of Orlando McBayne, Ladale Richie, Cordel Simpson and Fabian McCarthy are not in sync then Montego Bay United will be in trouble.
"It is always a concern when we are not in our usual winning ways, but in a long season like this, there is likely to be a dip. Especially for the last two games we should have won against Highgate and against Boys' Town. But coming away with a point from Boys' Town, which we have never done since we have been back in the league is a feat within itself," said coach Dr Dean Weatherly.
According to Weatherly, the plan for his team is "not to lose any home games and see if we can win all seven games remaining in the round, so as to put us in good standing going for the championship".
Definitely looking to win
"It will be tough but we won't be giving up anything and we are definitely looking to win. We intend to play our regular game and let Portmore adjust and then we take it from there," said Dr Weatherly, whose primary objective must be to keep Montego Bay United in the top six thus avoiding the relegation scrap.
In other games, fourth-place Waterhouse on 43 points will be looking for another three points when they play away to Sporting Central as they take aim on the leaders while the competition's leading scorer, Jermaine Anderson, will be trying to remind of his goal-scoring attributes.
At Tony Spaulding Sports Complex fifth-place Arnett Gardens on 41 points host seventh-place Cavalier on 35 points in a crucial battle for a top-six spot. Cavalier cannot afford another slip-up like they did last week when they went down 4-0 to Sporting Central.
At the bottom of the table, relegation favourites Savannah FC (17 points) take on Humble Lion in 10th spot on 32 points at Frome. A win is crucial to both teams. Highgate United, the team most likely to go down with Savannah, will try to get some valuable points off the inconsistent Tivoli Gardens.
3:30 p.m: Savannah vs Humble Lion - Frome Sports Complex
3:30 p.m: Sporting Central vs Waterhouse - Brancourt
5:00 p.m: Tivoli Gardens vs Highgate United - Edward Seaga Complex
6:00 p.m: Arnett Gardens vs Cavalier - Anthony Spaulding Complex
6:30 p.m: Montego Bay United vs Portmore United - Catherine Hall Complex
9:00 p.m: Harbour View FC vs. Boys Town FC @ Harbour View Stadium