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Tivoli Gardens look to stay in front

Published:Sunday | April 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer

Leaders and defending champions Tivoli Gardens will be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the 12-team table when they tackle Portmore United at Ferdie Neita Park in today's final set of matches in the third round of the Digicel Premier League. All matches kick off at 3:30 p.m.

Despite languishing in 10th place in the standings, Portmore United (35 points) have managed to avoid defeat at the hands of the league leaders in two previous meetings this season. The teams played to a 0-0 draw in their first encounter at Ferdie Neita Park, while the return meeting at the Edward Seaga Complex ended 2-2.

Tivoli (63 points) improved their third-round record on Wednesday to eight wins, one draw and one defeat with a 2-0 victory over Rivoli. After having a horrible second round, Portmore have put on a better third-round showing, which has seen them not losing in their last four outings. Their latest result was a 1-1 home draw against St Georges.

Every game a final

Tivoli's coach, Lenworth Hyde Sr, intends to take every game from here on as a final.

"We have to try and win every game when we play now; every game is like a final to us," said Hyde. "It is important that we work on the mental part of the players right now because physically we are OK, so it is the mental preparation that is important, and we are looking forward to another good performance from the team," he added.

In the other games, second-place Harbour View (61 points) will seek to rebound from their disappointing 2-1 loss to Village United when they travel to ninth-place Arnett Gardens (36 points), who are on a seven-game unbeaten run.

Third-place Waterhouse (47 points), who secured their first win of the round last week when they clipped August town 1-0, have a tricky encounter away to fourth-place Boys' Town (45 points). Sixth-place Village United (40 points) will travel to fifth-place St Georges (43 points), knowing that a point will see them maintaining their position in the elite top six. If Village leave the game empty-handed and seventh-place Rivoli (37 points) were to score a victory over bottom-place team Sporting Central Academy (32 points), Rivoli would take the coveted sixth spot as they have a superior goal difference.

'One point is good enough'

Village United's assistant coach, Cassman Williams, knows a point will be good enough but his team will be playing for three points."We would love to get three points there and we will be going up there and working with the intention of getting it, but one point is basically good enough for us," said Williams.

Rivoli's coach Oneal Thomas is hoping St Georges will do them a favour and beat Village, giving them a chance to reclaim sixth position.

"It is very important for us to be in the top six, but if it doesn't work we still have to fight hard to be in the Premier League, and I think the players are up to that challenge as well," Thomas said.

In the day's other game, August Town (34 points) will seek to pull themselves out of the drop zone and get some momentum going into the final round when they entertain eighth-place Humble Lion (36 points). August Town will be seeking a hat-trick of league wins over their rivals.

In the fourth and final round, the top six teams will compete against each other but, with only Tivoli and Harbour View in with realistic chances of winning the title. The other four teams - Waterhouse, Boys' Town, St Georges and either Village United or Rivoli - will take comfort in the fact that they cannot be relegated. The bottom six teams will be locked in a much tighter battle as no more than eight points will separate the seventh-place team from the team at the foot of the table.

Today's games

  • Portmore United vs Tivoli Gardens at Ferdie Neita Park
  • Boys' Town vs Waterhouse at Collie Smith Drive
  • Arnett Gardens vs Harbour View at Anthony Spaulding Complex
  • St Georges vs Village United at Lynch Park
  • Rivoli United vs Sporting Central Academy at Prison oval
  • August Town vs Humble Lion at UWI Bowl, Mona

All games will kick off at 3:30 p.m.