HIGHGATE United continued their unbeaten run in the second round of the Red Stripe Premier League on Sunday, with former Waterhouse striker Roberto Fletcher scoring two first-half goals to lead the St Mary club to a 2-0 win over the unpredictable Arnett Gardens at the Tony Spaulding Sport Complex.
The win was the second straight for new coach Michael Smith, who took over from Calvin Lewis at the start of the round. Smith started his reign with a 0-0 draw against Waterhouse, then followed up with victory against Sporting Central, and now Arnett.
They have now gathered seven points in just three matches, two more than they were able to accumulate the entire first round. Smith said their turnaround is mainly due to defensive adjustment he made since moving up from the post of assistant to head coach.
He believes they can continue this form with hard and come close to the their target of 23 points in this round.
"All I did was correct the defensive unit by putting in a centre-back and pack the midfield with five... and told them that all they need to do is work hard," Smith told reporters.
"We were letting in goals, now I think we've stopped it... but we are just taking it one game at a time... our objective is to accumulate some points in this round," he added.
Arnett, who were unbeaten in their last two games, came into the game with high expectations, but were stunned after eight minutes when Fletcher pulled away from the defence to head past Damion Hyatt at his far post.
Hyatt, who has been under pressure for some recent blunders, came under flack from the Arnett supporters for that goal.
But there was little he could do about the second in the 22nd when the speedy Fletcher raced through on a ball over the top and smashed a half-volley to the far post to make it 2-0.
Arnett did hit the woodwork twice in the half and had more possession, but they struggled to breakdown a no-nonsense Highgate defence led by former Arnett captain Anthowe Dawkins.
Leon Strickland also had two great chances for the hosts early after the break, but could not make then count.
Highgate then sat back and allowed the home team to come at them, but despite waves of attack, the visitors held out for the three points.
Arnett coach Paul 'Tegat' Davis said the loss, which saw them slip one place to fifth on 21 points, was damaging, but insists they will continue to fight. He noted that a number of players, including Lamar Nelson, were down with the flu.
"The team is not playing with any enthusiasm... and I'm trying hard as a coach (to motivate them), but you have some players who want to play and others don't... but we won't give up," he said.
Arnett Gardens -- Damion Hyatt, Andrew Peddlar, Dwayne Gaynor, Odaine Simpson, Ricardo Oldham, Vishinul Harris (Marcelino Blackburn 51st), Leon Strickland (Andrew Allen 65th), Kirk Ramsey (Vanado Manning 56th), Rohan Reid, Kemal Malcolm, Jonathan Williams.
Subs not used: O Dixon, L Nelson, K. D. Brown, W Richards.
Highgate United -- Maurice Evans, Anthowe Dawkins, Kevin Williams, Carlos Barrett, Dwayne Holmes, Andre Dyce, Severo Murphy, Roberto Fletcher (David Boswell 84th), Donovan Davis (Loxley Thomas 61st), Shamir Stewart (Gawayne Speed 58th), Jahmika Hutchinson.
Booked: Hutchinson 11th.
Subs not used: C Graham, K Campbell, D Neish, D Henry.
Referee: Valdin Legister
Assistants: Garnett Page, Charles Washington
Fourth Official: Cardella Samuels
Match Commissary: Maureen Chin