Portmore taking Tivoli game 'like a final'
Nodley Wright, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The 2011-12 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) could be wrapped up by tomorrow with three rounds of games to be played after today's action.
A victory for runaway leaders and title favourites Portmore United and a loss for second-place Boys' Town could see them crowned champions, while victory for Highgate United and losses for Reno and Village United will confirm their places in the lower leagues next season.
All could know their fate today, while Village United will have to wait until tomorrow when they play away to Arnett Gardens in the Monday night feature.
At Ferdie Neita Park, Portmore United should fancy their chances against the defending champions Tivoli Gardens. Having finally given up the ghost last week when they suffered a home loss to Humble Lion, the West Kingston team can now only play to restore lost pride and a greater share of the spoils.
Portmore United, despite watching their 12-point lead cut to eight, have been losing their footing as they approach the finish line, but coach Calvin Lewis is confident his players will steady themselves and breast the tape with room to spare.
"We are looking at this game like a final. We know that if we win and the other results go our way, then we could wrap up the title (today), a relaxed Lewis told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We have not won in the last three games and have lost our last two home games so we need to return to winning ways and we have what it takes to do it. In the matchups against Tivoli Gardens we won two and lost one outside of the end-of-round final and also beat them in the end-of-round final," added Lewis, who said he should have a full-strength squad at his disposal with the return to fitness of Rosario Harriott, Upstan Edwards, Adrian Reid and Eric Vernan.
Despite their positive record against Tivoli Gardens, Lewis said nothing will be taken for granted.
"We are not looking at past results. This is the one that we need to win and if we do that then we wrap up the league on home soil, and I must laud our players for the way they have played. The truth is that we were never worried about who is injured, we have a deep squad and eager youngsters ready to play and we have never been afraid to play them and they have done the job for us when they have played. So we have confidence in all our players, they all compete for places in the starting line-up."
Tivoli Gardens' assistant coach, Alvin Shaw, said his team's focus at this stage of the competition is on second place.
"Our focus is second place where there is an incentive, so that is another reason why we are going to Portmore and give it our all," said Shaw, who stated that they are now back to full strength, which means Navion Boyd and Mario Swaby should feature.
Besides that, Shaw said: "As coaches our philosophy is to win at all times; try and leave the game with maximum points and that is what we are going to Portmore to do on Sunday."
Boys' Town have a mathematical chance of overtaking Portmore United, but the 'Red Brigade' are a shadow of the team that handed Portmore United their first home loss of the season on the back of a fine performance from Michael Campbell. Even though they got the better of former title contenders Waterhouse in their last meeting, they did not look their best.
Boys' Town's opponents Harbour View have been showing some quality late in the season with the bright young star Jermie Lynch leading the way with three goals in three games. Coach Donovan Hayles also made it clear that there will not be any easing of any team.
"It (our committed approach to the game) is not just about Portmore. Whenever Harbour View step out on the field, we want to give a good account of ourselves," Hayles said after his team's draw with Portmore United on Monday last.
"I repeat that we must maintain the integrity of the league, so we have to come out and give it our honest effort. Harbour View does not know anything better than representing ourselves and representing ourselves well," Hayles added.
Group A (teams ranked 1-6)
6:30 p.m. Harbour View vs Boys' Town at Harbour View Stadium
6 p.m. Waterhouse vs Humble Lion at Drewsland Stadium
7 p.m. Portmore United vs Tivoli Gardens at Ferdie Neita Park
Group B (teams ranked -12)
3:30 p.m. Highgate United vs Sporting Central Academy at Lynch Park
3:30 p.m. Reno vs Montego Bay United at Frome Sports Complex
Monday Night Football
9 p.m. Arnett Gardens vs Village United at Anthony Spaulding sports Complex