Shots rang out in aftermath of Waterhouse's win over angry Arnett
Waterhouse FC defeated Arnett Gardens FC 2-1 in Monday's second leg encounter at the Anthony Spaulding Complex to progress to the championship match of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), though the night was marred by ugly scenes after the final whistle.
The win for the visitors gave them a 5-4 advantage on aggregate after the teams ended 3-3 in the first leg at the Drewsland Stadium last week. The final between Waterhouse and Montego Bay United was scheduled for next Monday at the Anthony Spaulding venue, but the post-game events have forced a rethink. At press time yesterday, reports were that the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) was in a meeting to decide on a new location.
In the second leg semi-final on Monday, captain Damarley Samuels gave Waterhouse a near-perfect start in the fifth minute in cool and slightly damp conditions. Arnett's goalkeeper Damian Hyatt, who was brave throughout, was no match for Samuels' close range right-footed blast before fans had barely settled in at the packed venue.
Thereafter Waterhouse totally dictated proceedings in the first half, using pace in wide areas to unsettle Arnett Gardens, and to create numerous easy chances against a defensive set-up which looked short on organisation and energy.
Despite the overwhelming dominance, Waterhouse were made to sweat when Arnett Gardens substitute Marcelino Blackburn sent in a 54th minute free kick from deep on the right side which eluded everyone and went into the goal.
However, Juvaune Benjamin, who was the most culpable in the wasteful Waterhouse attack, scored the winner with a stooping header 15 minutes before the end.
Winning head coach Anthony Patrick credited his players for the win and for retaining their composure even after Arnett Gardens equalised and wrested control for a short period in the second half.
"I'm very elated for the youngsters. They are really digging deep and showing a lot of quality. Our team has a lot of ball handlers and a lot of pace up front. The early goal for us made a difference and though we missed so many chances I wasn't worrying too much.
"Their goal lifted them for 10-15 minutes, but after that we got going again and they had no answer for us," Patrick told the Jamaica Observer.
His counterpart at Arnett Gardens Jerome Waite conceded that his team was beaten by a superior outfit on the night, but praised his players for making it to the last four of the competition.
"Based on what took place I think it was a fair result. On a day when you expect so much from players, it boils down to them showing that they wanted it more. The opponents did that.
"This is a team that was way down in the standings when I started [coaching after the season began] and seeing this run to the semi-final is an achievement. So in all fairness, I think they did well, but we just didn't perform on the day," he said.
In an end-to-end start to an encounter, of which much was expected after the enthralling draw in part one of the tie, Arnett came closest to scoring, but no one was able to properly connect to a menacing cross that fizzed across the Waterhouse six-yard box.
Seconds later, Samuels picked up a loose ball at the opposite end of the park and displayed unique composure before blasting home.
Waterhouse pressed for more goals in an electric first half show and were unfortunate when the enterprising right-back Hughan Gray passed to Benjamin, whose shot hit from the edge of the 18-yard box slammed against the upright in the 21st minute.
Soon after, the hard-running Benjamin had another good opportunity when a basic exchange of passes between him and midfielder Vincent Earle allowed him through on goal. He however, failed to get his placement correct against the advancing Hyatt, who blocked well.
A minute later, the porous Arnett Gardens defence gave up another chance, but Kenroy Howell miscued his shot after a lunge at the ball, and as if to prove he could outdo his dreadlocked teammate, Benjamin skied an even easier opportunity when goalkeeper Hyatt was caught out of his goal.
The second period started as the first began, but Benjamin, who was again put through on goal, hit straight at Hyatt.
Waterhouse were made to pay for their wastefulness when Blackburn's free kick from seemingly harmless territory found the back of the net. He and fellow substitute Kemal Malcolm, both entering the game two minutes earlier, appeared to claim the goal, but the officials credited the strike to Blackburn.
Amid celebratory pyrotechnics in a section of the stands, the home team found an attacking rhythm and grabbed the ascendancy, pinning back the Waterhouse team, but the visitors' defence held up well to stave off any threat.
And with both teams tussling for the go ahead goal, it was Benjamin, who finally got his bearings right, tucking home from an unmarked position.
The wiry attacker did get the chance to put the icing on the cake when he pounced on a long clearance, but he scuffed his volley straight at Hyatt.
While the encounter provided plenty of thrills for football watchers, the after-match events brought excitement of a different kind as Arnett's supporters took out their angst on the match officials, throwing bottles and verbal threats their way.
The officials and several political figures, including Minister with Responsibility for Sports Natalie Neita Headley, had to be whisked away, under heavy guard, to safety.
A few explosions similar to the sound of gun shots were heard during the melee and fragments of broken glass were visible on the playing field. The Observer could not confirm if anyone was hurt.
Teams: Arnett Gardens — Damian Hyatt, Jabeur Johnson, Shaquille Dyer, Renae Lloyd, Kirk Ramsey, Oneil Thompson, Fabian Reid, Jason Moore (Newton Sterling 83rd), Leon Strickland (Kemal Malcolm 52nd), Jaron Richards, Andre Clennon (Marcelino Blackburn 52nd)
Subs not used: Peter Harrison, Jarmar Jackson, Vishinul Harris, Kevin Wilson
Booked: Moore (59th), Malcolm (73rd), Johnson (83rd)
Waterhouse — Richard McCallum, Oshane Roberts, Omar Walcott, Nicholy Finlayson, Hughan Gray, Romario Campbell (Weston Forrest 89th), Ramone Howell, Juvaune Benjamin, Damarley Samuels, Kenroy Howell (Marvin Morgan 60th), Vincent Earle
Subs not used: Kelso Cousins, Rohan Amos, Kemar Brown, Kimorlie Brissett, Nathaniel Leslie
Booked: Finlayson (53rd), Earle (71st)
Referee: Kevin Morrison
Assistant Referees: Stacy-Ann Greyson and Keble Williams
Fourth Official: Courtney Campbell
Fifth Official: Stephanie-Dale YeeSingh
Match Commissary: Ewan Scott