Thu | Dec 5, 2019

‘Bibi’ keeps faith with misfiring strikers

Published:Thursday | November 14, 2019 | 12:14 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Portmore United’s head coach Ricardo Gardner, (centre), walks off the field at half-time during a Red Stripe Premier League match against Dunbeholden played at the Spanish Town Prison Oval in Spanish Town, St Catherine on Sunday September 15, 2019.
Portmore United’s head coach Ricardo Gardner, (centre), walks off the field at half-time during a Red Stripe Premier League match against Dunbeholden played at the Spanish Town Prison Oval in Spanish Town, St Catherine on Sunday September 15, 2019.

Portmore United head coach Ricardo ‘Bibi’ Gardner says he will continue to put his faith in strikers Cory Burke and Rondee Smith and that he remains confident that they can get them the goals needed for a successful Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) title defence.

The two forwards have only scored five goals between them over 11 first-round matches, but Gardner pointed out that he remained confident in the pair despite their poor form in front of goal so far this season.

Burke, who is currently on loan with the St Catherine club due to his immigration problems, which prevented him from returning to the US earlier this year, has only netted three goals, while Smith, one of chief scorers for the club last season, has only two strikes to his credit this term.

The strikers’ form is key in the team’s overall offensive output, with only ninth-place Dunbeholden (7) and cellar-dwellers Vere (7) scoring less than Portmore’s eight goals so far this campaign, a return that has contributed to their disappointing eighth-place position in the points table.

However, Gardener says that he will continue to rely on the two as he believes that they are putting in a lot of work on the training pitch and he is convinced that it’s only a matter of time before they come good.

“They are putting in a shift. We just need to be more clinical. But we will continue to work with them (Burke and Smith). They are working very hard to get it right, but come game time, it’s not going their way. But it’s nothing to worry about for me. Once they continue to work on their craft, it will come back naturally to them because they are goal scorers. They just have to start putting away their chances,” Gardner said.

The former national captain also thought that the team did enough to get three points against Waterhouse on Sunday but lamented their lack of efficiency in their 1-1 draw with the league leaders.

“We should have got more from the game. We did enough to get all three points, but it’s against a very tough opponent who is in form, so we think it is ungrateful to have come out of the game with one point,” Gardner said.

“We did enough to get three points, but if you don’t convert your chances, people will continue to put away theirs, and we will have to be more resilient in terms of keeping people out of our penalty area,” he pointed out.

Portmore ended the first round in eighth place with 12 points, but Gardner believes that there were a lot of positives to take away from Sunday’s match, especially, with the second round just around the corner.

“We will have to go back and prepare ourselves for another tough encounter. We have to play every game as a final, but I continue to believe in the group, and I think we are starting to get our confidence now. We just need to convert our chances and we will continue to put points on the board.

“It’s a fresh round, it’s a round that we are looking forward to. We have to go to Tivoli Gardens and continue to fight like this (Sunday), and if we continue to fight and put away our chances, we will put points on the board,” he commented.