Sport

H'View look to amp up tempo in championship push

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior Reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, December 27, 2013    

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A magnificent run of seven consecutive wins — of nine overall and coming from 11 games — has propelled Harbour View as winter champions of the Red Stripe Premier League.

Harbour View, who have lost two of their first three games by gaining one point in the process, went into overdrive early and amassed 23 of a possible 24 points to end the first round on top with 24 points.

The defending champions then secured further wins at the start of the second round, and at one point, stretched their lead to six points, but a 1-1 draw away to Cavalier saw them ending the year with a four-point lead.

The Harold Thomas-coached Stars of the East have rattled up nine wins, three draws and two defeats from their 14 games, scoring 18 times, while conceding a meagre seven.

Meanwhile, Donovan Duckie, still searching for his first Premier League title, saw his Montego Bay United outfit draw four consecutive games and give up the lead, but they finished the year with a good 1-0 win over Tivoli Gardens to be second on 26 points.

Montego Bay United, formerly Seba United, are the only team from the west of Jamaica carrying the fight for that region and are genuine title contenders.

With seven wins, five draws and only two defeats, the St James outfit is five points clear of third-placed Waterhouse and look a good bet to secure a semi-final spot after the end of the third round. Already blessed with a talented bunch of players, Montego Bay have strengthened their ranks with the acquisition of the outstanding Evan Taylor from Harbour View.

As long as Jermaine "Tuffy" Anderson is around, Waterhouse will be a force to be reckoned with, and his six goals so far make up half of his team's tally, propelling the former champions into third spot with 21 points.

Clarendon-based Humble Lion, under the astute tutelage of Geoffrey Maxwell, are fourth on 20 points but have a host of teams breathing down their neck to secure a semi-final spot.

It is close going in midtable with only three points separating fifth-placed Rivoli United (19 points) and 10th-placed Boys' Town (16 points).

Former champions Portmore United have kick-started their season a bit late and have won two of their last three games, moving off the bottom into 11th spot with 14 points.

The promoted August Town, who held the unbeaten record after the first six games, have slipped down the pecking order rapidly, losing their seven of their following eight games to be rooted at the bottom with 11 points. They also had a coaching change as Max Straw departed and was replaced by veteran Bradley Stewart.

There have been coaching changes at Arnett Gardens with Jerome Waite replacing Calvin Lewis, with the latter replacing Linval Dixon at Portmore United.

Arnett Gardens are once again the top-scoring team with 21 goals from 14 matches, but have also conceded 16 times, which is the third highest behind Boys' Town (16), Sporting Central Academy (18) and August Town (20).

Cavalier and Portmore United are the least most prolific teams with nine goals apiece, the same number as Harbour View's Brian Brown, who is the leading goalscorer.

The towering and trimmed Newton Sterling of Arnett is second on the chart with seven goals, the same as Francois Swaby of Sporting Central. Former national player Devon Hodges of Rivoli United have scored six of his team's 10 goals and are joint fourth on the list with Jermaine Anderson and the promising Dino Williams.

The league will resume on January 5 where a number of teams will be busy in the transfer market as they look to boost their stock for the final push with eight games remaining in the second round.

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