Waterhouse celebrate despite disturbance
Nodley Wright, Gleaner Writer
Not even the threat of violence, warning shots and disturbance could spoil Waterhouse's party and kill their joy; the joy of advancing to the final of the 2013-2014 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) final on Monday night. They will now meet Montego Bay United.
The league's most impressive team defeated the top-scoring Arnett Gardens 2-1 in an entertaining and sometimes combustive encounter at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, courtesy of goals from Damarley Samuels in the fifth minute and Juvaune Benjamin in the 75th. Kemal Malcolm gave Arnett Gardens hope in the 54th minute.
"I am very, very happy; very happy for the youngsters. We are just a step away now from copping that title. It is not over, there is 90 minutes ahead, and we have to prepare for that," a beaming Anthony Patrick, coach of Waterhouse, said at the end of the game.
Arnett Gardens' Jerome Waite found room to praise his team, despite the look of disappointment etched on his face.
"The team has really done well. The fact that they were on five points, in 11th spot and really made a surge to reach the top four is really something to be proud of. They have done themselves a huge service," said Waite, who has previously led Arnett Gardens to back-to-back titles.
Playing in front of a stadium packed to capacity, Waterhouse looked very much the team at home, and took the lead in the fifth minute when Samuels ran on to a miscued shot that cut the Arnett Gardens defence wide open.
Waterhouse continued to boss the game, as they made the Arnett Gardens midfield seem non-existent, as Vincent Earle, in particular, strolled around with a swagger which suggested the place belonged to him. Benjamin and Samuels, with their intelligent running, provided the outlet and encouragement that he needed.
More clinical finishing from the duo, and Benjamin in particular, would have ended the match as a contest. Benjamin missed the easiest chance of the match when, after participating in a wonderful build-up which had the Arnett Gardens backline in sixes and sevens, he guided high over an empty net from close range.
Arnett Gardens searched for answers, while their first leg hero, Kirk Ramsay, looked a frustrated figure, as he begged for proper service, with Nicholy Finlayson and company giving him no room.
With the game in danger of slipping further away from them in the second half, Jerome Waite introduced the lively duo of Malcolm and Marcelino Blackburn for the ineffective André Clennon and Leon Strickland.
Less than a minute later, Arnett Gardens were level. After Malcolm was felled charging down the right flank, Blackburn curled in a left-footed free kick, which Malcolm stooped to guide a wonderful glancing header home.
Arnett Gardens' celebrations were far more spectacular than Waterhouse's. In a manner similar to the celebration of new year on the waterfront, fireworks lit up the sky. Chants rang out. It was as if they had won the title.
Waterhouse had other ideas, and would not be denied. Benjamin made up for his earlier misses with a goal from a diving header, which was like a dagger to the home fans' hearts.
In the dying seconds, Arnett Gardens had a call waved off for a penalty when Malcolm went down under a challenge as he bore down on goal. This left them disappointed at the final whistle.
A small group of spectators made their way onto the field. One in particular went directly at referee Kevin Morrison to confront him about what he believed to be a missed penalty call in favour of Arnett Gardens. After a number of warnings, police personnel protecting the referee lost patience with the supporter and pepper sprayed him to keep him away. That response angered sections of the crowd, who hurled missiles at the police personnel. Order was restored following warning shots fired in the air to calm the crowd.
Unlike some of his team's supporters, Waite was graceful in defeat.
"I think the team that wanted it more won. We played a little flat in the first half. They created numerous chances where they should have put the game out of the reach of Arnett Gardens, but with all of that, the goalkeeper really stood up well," Waite said.
Patrick credited their victory to his team's training on the weekend.
"The training Saturday morning and Sunday morning really made a huge difference. The players were really up for it. I was really enthused, as a coach, to see the players going through their paces," Patrick said.