Highgate virtually secure spot
Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer
BUFF BAY, Portland:
It took two second-half goals, one from an unlikely source, to strengthen Highgate United's grip on a spot in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) next season, following their 2-2 draw against Sporting Central Academy at Lynch Park on Sunday.
Geoffrey Maxwell, who coaches the Highgate team, lauded his players for their fighting spirit, after falling behind by two goals in the first half.
"They clawed their way back in the second half," said Maxwell. "I am, however, very disappointed, as we could have scored anywhere between four to seven goals.
"Players need to realise that this is the Premier League and therefore the Super League style of play will not work in the big league," he added.
In a game played in slippery conditions, Sporting first scored in the seventh minute after André Allen was brought down in the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Kadian Wynter then calmly placed the ball to the left of goalkeeper Ralston Robinson to hand his team a one-nil lead.
That goal would somewhat spur Highgate to lift their game, but despite several attacks on their opponents' goal, they were unable to draw level.
At the other end, Sporting, after creating several openings, doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when the skilful Keith Kelly dribbled past two defenders and made a cross from the left flank, picking out Gregory Lewis who was left unmarked inside the 18-yard box. Lewis neatly placed the ball into the right-hand corner of the net.
On the resumption, Highgate came out throwing everything into attacking and came close on numerous occasions to scoring, but were denied a goal by that final touch.
In the 68th minute, Highgate got their long-awaited goal when Severo Murphy floated a corner kick from the left flank which found Barrington James inside the box, and he headed home to give his team a fighting chance.
A series of attacks from Donovan Davis, Murphy, Barrington James and Damian James inside Sporting Central's 18-yard box resulted in them being awarded a penalty after the referee ruled that a defender had handled the ball. But Lynch Park was in total silence when substitute Dennis Neish fired the penalty kick over the crossbar in the 79th minute.
With the clock ticking away, Highgate were awarded a second penalty in added time, and on this occasion Davis took the resulting free kick, burying it safely in the net.
Sporting Central's coach, Nigel Stewart, was thankful for the point.
"It was a good result," he said. "We travelled all the way from Clarendon with one substitute and we held them at bay for a long period."
SUMMARY of Red Stripe Premier League football matches played on Sunday:
Highgate United 2 Sporting Central Academy 2 at Lynch Park
GOALS: Highgate United - Barrington James 68th, Donovan Davis pen. 90th; Sporting Central - Kadian Wynter pen. 8th, Gregory Lewis 45th
Reno 0 Montego Bay United 2 at Frome Sports Complex
GOALS: Montego Bay United - Kemiro James 4th, Omar Gordon 79th
Waterhouse 3 Humble Lion 0 at Drewsland Stadium
GOALS: Waterhouse - Own goal 54th, Damarley Samuels 65th, Weston Forrest 74th
Harbour View 2 Boys' Town 0 at Harbour View Stadium
GOALS: Harbour View - John-Ross Edwards 50th, Jaron Richards 57th
Portmore United 1 Tivoli Gardens 1 at Ferdie Neita Park
GOALS: Portmore United - Roen Nelson pen. 78th; Tivoli Gardens - Dane Kelly 17th
Standings after Red Stripe Premier League football matches played on Sunday:
Next fixtures (Monday night game to be decided)
Sunday April 22, 2012
Group A (Teams Ranked 1-6)
7 p.m. Portmore United vs Humble Lion at Ferdie Neita Park
5 p.m. Tivoli Gardens vs Boys' Town at Edward Seaga Sports Complex
6 p.m. Waterhouse vs Harbour View at Drewsland Stadium
Group B (Teams Ranked 7-12)
6 p.m. Montego Bay United vs Highgate United at Montego Bay Stadium
6 p.m. Arnett Gardens vs Reno at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex
3:30 p.m. Village United vs Sporting Central Academy at Elliston Wakeland Centre
Tivoli Gardens' Keithy Simpson (left) celebrates with goalscorer Dane Kelly during their Red Stripe Premier League football match against Portmore United at Ferdie Neita Park on Sunday night.