Who will join Reno? - Montego Bay United are the favourites but Humble Lion, Harbour View and Dunbeholden in crucial clashes
One team went down on Wednesday and another could follow suit today as the Red Stripe Premier League continues with the penultimate set of matches in the regular season. For purposes of transparency, all six matches will be played today and at the same time.
Three teams are in a position to join FC Reno as one of the two relegated teams. Among them are eighth-placed Humble Lion, who, like ninth-placed Harbour View, are both on 34 points. Tenth-placed Dunbeholden FC on 33 points are also in the danger zone as well as 11th-placed Montego United, the favourites to go down.
Montego Bay United are considered the favourites to go down not only because they are in 11th position, but also because they face the leaders and defending champions Portmore United who cannot afford to take the risk of fielding an understrength team. Portmore United, who lead the table with 60 points, are four ahead of Waterhouse with both in contention for the $1 million bonus awarded to the team that ends the regular season with the most points. Any slip-up at this point could see Portmore overtaken by their closest rivals.
A loss today for Montego Bay United and as little as a point for the three teams immediately above them will confirm their slide out of the big league. If, however, Montego Bay United manage to get the better of Portmore United and one of the three is beaten, then they will extend their life in the top flight to another game day.
Dino Williams, a significant factor in Montego Bay United’s titles and run to the finals, has shown flashes of brilliance since being reactivated, but he will need to recapture past form, inspire his teammates, and hope that Portmore United’s attackers misfire. Jovan East and Rondee Smith do not always fire, but if they don’t, others usually rise to the occasion.
Harbour got a big shot in the arm on Thursday when they pipped Cavalier 2-1. With today’s game against the already-relegated Reno a home one, their chances of a win and survival should be very high. Tevin Scott, acquired via loan from Cavalier in January, has been in good form, scoring three goals in four games. Today’s game is one he should relish, and if he gets going, he could not only add to his tally, but help to secure Harbour View’s safety.
Humble Lion face a tougher challenge than Harbour View as they host fourth-placed Cavalier, who are not in danger of slipping out of the top six, but are within striking distance of top three just four points behind the form team Mount Pleasant FC. One point will make Humble Lion safe, but their fans, who tasted their first victory in five games on Thursday, would welcome another at home.
Dunbeholden will not have things easy despite being at home to UWI FC. Like Dunbeholden, UWI FC are in need of points as they can still be caught by Tivoli Gardens, who are still eyeing a place in the top six. A win today will pull them out of Tivoli’s reach and guarantee their place in the playoffs.
At the other end of the table, third-placed Mount Pleasant FC are expected to continue their good run when they host the now inconsistent Arnett Gardens while Tivoli Gardens should be boosted by the absence of Tramaine Stewart for Waterhouse when both teams meet. Stewart, Waterhouse’s leading scorer and most influential player this season, will be suspended for today’s game due to an accumulation of cards.
Tivoli’s Colorado Murray, joint second place on the goalscorers chart with 10, one behind Arnett Gardens’s Fabian Reid, could use this opportunity to not only fire his team back into contention, but get to the top of the goal-scoring chart.